Articles

Haitian Music Industry: Underground artists

underground-artists-logo
Source: Unknown

The Haitian Music Industry

The “Haitian Music Industry” consists of a lot of talented artists. However, music listeners, are missing out on a lot of Haitian artists because they don’t get as much exposure. Granted, regardless of the genre the artist chooses, it is always hard for them to instantly make it. However, I feel that certain “Underground” artists don’t get the encouragement nor the credit they deserve. We live in an era where real talent/hard work is overlooked, yet mediocrity is supported and applauded.

Whether it’s as a rapper, or a singer, there are artists who deserve a shot and I believe it  should be given to them. We need to start encouraging real talent, artists who are on the come up, who’ve worked hard but have never been supported by our Haitian media outlets, or by people who have real social media platforms they could’ve used to help them but chose not to. & most importantly, I want the upcoming generation to stop supporting popularity but real talent and I’m not the only one who thinks so.

I decided to hear what others had to say about the Haitian Music Industry and its Underground artists. All of them seemed to have similar thoughts:

“It’s no longer about talent. You’re automatically a 0 if you don’t have the right contacts. It’s the same for many underground artists. They put in a lot of work and make a lot of efforts but, the spotlight remains on the same people; the ones who are already there, the popular ones. They don’t get help.” – Peet The Ghost

“Underground artists are dope, they’re usually better than the mainstream”- Aristide I.

“In my opinion, unlike other countries, underground Haitian artists are undervalued. The radio hardly plays their songs, no one really listens to their Soundcloud music, and lastly some of them often never get the recognition they deserve.” – Mondly Stainvil

“Haitians support mediocrity way too much, it’s embarrassing. I’m sure there are amazing underground rappers, sick vocalist, dope writers and fabulous singers that we know nothing about in Haiti and it’s ridiculous. A platform has been given to people who are mediocre or just simply suck. I also do hope that greater opportunities can one day be given to artists in the HMI who deserve it.” – Gabrielle Alexis

In the mind of our underground artists

Today, I had the chance to interview 4 amazing underground artists. These artists are some of which I admire and been following for a while, so I took the liberty to interview them. Read along to find out a bit more about them.

Mr AlCol Le DJ

Muhreah: Would you like to introduce yourself to the readers?

AlCol: Most of you know me as AlCol, Mr. AlCol Le DJ, or even Le Fils DJ Vivant, but my given name is Alim Colin. I’m 24 years old. I’ve been a student of the National School of Arts in Port-au-Prince, and of the Audio Institute in Jacmel. I am a DJ, a producer, and a rapper – you could say I wear many hats.

Muhreah: Which music genre/category do you think you fall into? Have you ever explored other genres?

AlCol: I fall into my own genre category: moombahkonpa. I have been a big fan of moombahton for a long time, but I wanted to explore a different direction. Moombahkonpa is where elements of Haitian konpa meet moombahton. This is mainly how I produce. I have dabbled in trap music, and many of my remixes touch many genres from rasin to pop.

Muhreah: Why exactly did you choose to pursue a music career? How long have you been making music for?

AlCol: Making music has always been a force hidden inside me. I went from drumming on the edge of school benches, to recording myself in my bedroom, to exploring systems like Machine. I could hear sounds around me, and make music in my head – I just wanted to share it with the world. I’ve been making music since 2014.

Muhreah: What are your thoughts on the HMI and what do you think could be done to give underground artists a better chance at the spotlight?

AlCol: The HMI only serves a few people inside of it; I think we all know that, by now… But as a whole, I would say that artists’rights initiatives need to be taken more seriously by people in the HMI who launch them. Being passive in that sense makes them a lot less credible. To underground artists though, I would suggest not waiting for a chance to be in the spotlight. Waiting is in large part what keeps them underground. The best way  to get in people’s faces is for them to notice you, and the best way for that to happen is for underground artists to develop their skills. Learning is a never-ending process.

Muhreah: What are your future goals as an artist?

AlCol: By the end of next year, I will be completing my studies in audio production techniques in Canada. The HMI needs professionals of a certain level that it currently does not have. I intend to open my own recording studio and production practice, in Haiti. Having the backbone of Canada will also allow me to put out higher quality original production for AlCol. I will also be able to fully launch and support SaBonWi, the label platform for myself and other SaBonWi artists. This opens a lot of doors: an album, a tour, performances in Haiti and in other countries – because moombahkonpa is worldwide.

Muhreah: Tell us the title of the best track you think you’ve ever recorded? Why?

AlCol: That would be “Map Byen Pase’. It’s the first of my “moombahkonpa” compositions, so there is some artistic and emotional value attached to it. I felt like a true creator; like a movie director pulling strings behind the scenes. I put together the instrumental, invited another artist, and at the end, watched the project explode. “Map Byen Pase” felt like when you get that creative process absolutely right.

Map byen pase (ft Steves J. Bryan)

Muhreah: A fan of yours wanted to know why you let Valmix take all the credit for “Konyen Nòmal” and also how you came up with “Moombahkonpa”?

AlCol: This first question comes up quite a bit, doesn’t it… As I was saying earlier, the HMI doesn’t really serve the artists that make it what it is. I’ve been told that I didn’t make a big enough deal of the “Konyen Nòmal” incident; I’ve been told to let it die. At the end of the day, I didn’t fight as much as others may have wanted me to because my career wasn’t and never will be limited to “Konyen Nòmal”. As for “moombahkonpa”, this is the junction between the popular “moombahton” style of music, and elements of Haitian konpa which we all know and love. It’s a cool musical experiment that has ended up taking a life of its own.

Marvens Mathieu

Muhreah: Would you like to introduce yourself to the readers?

Marvens M.: I am Marvens K. Mathieu, also known as TiMa by a few people. I was born and grew up in Haiti. I went to Catts pressoir, S.L.G and C.P. Edme. I’m turning 23 this august. I am very passionate about Music and sports.

Muhreah: Which music genre/category do you think you fall into?

Marvens M.: I don’t usually associate with any genres/categories, because I strongly believe I could make music from any type of genre/category. However, I am Rap amateur, and I’m also a singer. So, I’d say Hip Hop/R&B.

Muhreah: Have you ever explored other genres?

Marvens M.: I have songs yet to be released that fall in other genres. There’s a zouk single that is mixed with a little rap twist. And I have a couple of compas songs on my mind that I am willing to make remixes of.

Muhreah: Why exactly did you choose to pursue a music career? How long have you been making music for?

Marvens M.: I believe I was influenced because music was around me so much. I loved music and believed I was capable of  writing dope songs. Therefore, I started recording tracks and releasing them. I eventually fell in love with it and I just kept on going, so I guess we will just have to see where that leads. I released my first single in 2010/2011, and I have never been consistent with it up until now.

Muhreah: What are your thoughts on the HMI and what do you think could be done to give underground artists a better chance at the spotlight ?

Marvens M.: I think the HMI is complicated. There’s not really an entity that is controlling the numbers, or even allowing the bands and artists to make as much money as they should be through copyright and sales. It’s also a tricky business where the “Tenors”, ”pioneers” tend to control the industry making the window really tight for the ones defined as underground to emerge.  A lot could be done to help the underground artists, and one thing I think would be helpful would be having someone scouting underground artists, picking some and growing with them.

Muhreah: Can your fans expect a mixtape or an album anytime soon?

Marvens M.: Yes, totally. My fans, those who support my work can expect a mixtape soon. I will also be dropping visuals so that they can finally put a face on the voice.

Mureah: Tell us the title of the best track you think you’ve ever recorded? Why?

Marvens M.: Dang! That’s a tough one. I love all my songs. I have one that I never released. It’s titled “happy birthday”. It was special so definitely that one. However, I’d say “Pa Tounen” with Steves J Bryan is my second favorite. I knew it was going to be a hit, the beat (by soundheightz) was crazy, Olee’s touch, my verse, Steves J’s flow … crazyy!

Pa tounen Olee x Marvens (Ft Steves J. Bryan)

Muhreah: A fan of yours was curious about the mixtape you were supposed to drop back in 2017, what’s the story behind that?

Marvens. M: Several things happened with the mixtape. Since it was a collab, things got complicated with the recording. We had to find another producer. As of right now, my man “Steady Tek Nik” is adding the last touches needed and it should be out soon. I’ll make up for the wait with a couple visuals and a personal mixtape by the end of the year.

Prestans Douge

Muhreah: Would you like to introduce yourself to the readers?

Prestans: I am Dougé Williamson, known as Prestans. I am rapper and I’m evolving within the “45 Soldiers”, a group from Jacmel.

Muhreah: Which music genre/category do you think you fall into?

Prestans: I fall into the Hip-Hop category. We met while I was still a child. And since, he lives in me.

Muhreah: In your opinion, what is one way for an underground artist to make it in the industry?

Prestans: Perfect your music so that it has no barriers or limits! There are things that people can not stop, as long as your product is good. Otherwise, no one will be nice enough to give you a little piece of their success. Nothing is handed to you in this industry.

Muhreah: What are your future goals as an artist?

Prestans: I have many projects. I wonder if I will have the time to finalize them all, but there are a few I already started working on. #AnnAlJakmel is a project with which I intend to fizzle out, although it does not have too much to do with my musical career.

 

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Source: Douge Williamson
Muhreah: Tell us the title of the best track you think you’ve ever recorded? Why?

Prestans: As I read this question, two songs come to mind. One of them is on the project “First Tape First Step” that I made with 45 Soldiers, titled “Tout a changé”, the text is deep, the chords are divine. And the other one will be on PJays next album. I got the chance to work with him. It’s been a great experience, that’s all I can say about it.

Tout a change – 45 Soldiers

Muhreah: A fan of yours wanted to know if you ever thought of going Solo, what’s your answer to that?

Prestans: Perhaps… one day. However, I want to stay attached to my group at all costs. If my solo project could affect “45 Soldiers”, I rather avoid it.

Redge CH

Muhreah: Would you like to introduce yourself to the readers? 

Redge CH: My name is Reginald, but I go by the name of Redge CH. I was born and raised in Haiti. I moved to the United States in 2010. I’m also part of a music group called “Baz Bel Tet”.

Muhreah: Which music genre/category do you think you fall into, and have you ever explored other genres?

Redge CH: I think I fall into the rap music genre. I have explored another music genre, namely Afrotrap which is a mix of Afro rhythms and trap music. As of matter of fact, that’s the genre that my music group focuses on.

Muhreah: Why exactly did you choose to pursue a music career, and how long have you been making music for?

Redge CH: I would not really say that I chose to pursue a music career since I’m evolving more in my profession as a software engineer. However, I am passionate about music. It’s something that makes me very happy, and I also rejoice the fact that I make people happy with my very own. Some of my friends even think that I’m a melomaniac because I’m always listening to music. I’ve been rapping since I was 16 years old, so about 10 years.

Muhreah: What are your thoughts on the HMI, and what do you think could be done to give underground artists a better chance at spotlight?

Redge CH: I think that the HMI needs a lot of improvement. What needs to be addressed is mainly infrastructure. I don’t think that the artists are getting the help that they need in order to flourish. They are barely making money with their work. There are a lot of great artists out there, but they need our support so that they can thrive and give us even better products. As for the underground artists who are not getting enough recognition, there are some ways that can help change that. For instance, music contests – these are a good way to discover talents. We can also consider building a platform that would focus only on underground music. Furthermore, the artists also need to put themselves more out there so that the public can know about them and their products.

Muhreah: What are your future goals as an artist?

Redge CH: I’m trying to put out more music, but it’s quite tough to achieve that goal, especially with a full-time job and other daily activities. Some fans have been reproaching me for “wasting my talent”. They believe that I have the potential to be great, but I don’t exploit enough. Lately, I’ve been releasing short videos of series called “FM”(Freestyle Machine) where I’m just rapping nonstop over an instrumental for about 1 minute. I currently have 13 out. I plan to release a single soon.  I don’t think I’m that well known in the industry, so I’ve been pondering plans/projects to change that and hopefully make it big.

Muhreah: Tell us the title of the best track you think you’ve ever recorded. Why?

Redge CH: The best track I think I’ve ever recorded is “Lavi A”. I poured my heart into the text where I spoke about some hardships of life. It has a very deep meaning. I was actually going through tough times when I wrote that song. Moreover, everyone knows that life is not easy, and I guess that makes it very relatable.

Lavi a – Redge CH

Muhreah: A fan of yours wanted to know why you were holding back, why isn’t there a mixtape out yet?

Redge CH: That takes us back to the question of infrastructure in the HMI that I broached before. I’m scared to risk it all to no avail. What if things don’t work out? Or how am I going to support myself with music when music itself is not selling? On top of that, many critics tend to point that the lyricism of my texts is a bit too complex hence hard to commercialize. Like I mentioned before, I already have a professional career, and I’m very happy with it. Going all in would entail my giving up on that career to pursue music one instead, but I’m not sure if it’s worth it right now. Nevertheless, you never know what the future holds.

underground
Source: Unknown

Below, I’ve attached a list of songs from more underground artists/groups I unfortunately did not have the chance to interview. Enjoy!

  1. ReylexKiSouBeatLa – Sans Toi
  2. Baz Bel Tet – Pou Pita Remix (feat. Baky, Dro, Balalatet)
  3. PIC – Tet Poupe
  4. Synedad – Kenbe La
  5. FIP – What it do (Ft GINO)
  6. GINO – Secure remix
  7. Squeezy Ramses – Slow down
  8. Fre Gabe – Ti Kal Nan Temwanyaj Mwen (Ft Stanley G.)
  9. 2pat – Bannann dous
  10. Next level – Particula (Ft Ray Raymond)
  11. LilBirdLeii – Barbie Girl (Rendition) Feat. Yohann & Ayiiti
  12. DaviDor – DaviDor X Edk – Gade Yo (Prod By DaviDor)
  13. Djemfresh – Efo Kap Fet
  14. 45 Soldiers – Adieu (Ft Baky Popile)
  15. Peet The Ghost – Karolynn – (feat Guerby & Moed)
  16. PMD – Nap Chavire
  17. Drazy – Map fe kob

Writers Note

A big thank you goes to: Mr AlCol, Marvens Mathieu, Prestans, and Redge CH for being nice enough to answer all the questions. To all of you currently reading this, Thank you! Hopefully, by the time you’re through with this article, you will find new music to add to your playlist.

This was, The Haitian Music Industry: Underground artists.

Written by Muhreahwrites.

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