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Thread: Zouk & Kompas: What are the main distinguishing differences between these two genres?

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    Repect Our Soca Pioneers Socapro's Avatar Socapro is offline
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    Question Zouk & Kompas: What are the main distinguishing differences between these two genres?

    I am no Zouk or Kompas expert nor have I ever claimed to be one but I am always happy to learn more about any of our various Caribbean music genres.

    So can someone please clearly explain to me the main difference between Zouk and Kompas and post some good examples of tunes clearly showing the differences?

    I believe that I am much more familiar with Zouk than Kompas so I would like someone from Haiti where the Kompas genre originates and who is also a connoisseur of Kompas music to explain the main differences and post a few examples of songs that show the clear differences.

    Btw I read the definition below in the next two posts and I believe it helped but I would like to hear a few examples from the experts here in Zouk / Kompas Chat.

    Many thanks
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    Compas music

    Compas music (written as Compas Direct in French and Kompa or konpa in Haitian Creole) is a modern Méringue, the national music genre of Haiti that people have been dancing and singing since the 1800s. Popularized by Haitian sax and guitar player Nemours Jean-Baptiste in 1955, Compas is the main music of many countries such as Martinique, Guadeloupe, Dominica, etc. Whether it is incorrectly called zouk where French Antilles artists of Martinique and Guadeloupe have taken it or compas in places where Haitian artists have toured, this meringue style is very influential in the Caribbean, Africa, Cape Verde, Portugal, France, part of Canada, South and North America.

    History

    Compas direct is a modern meringue popularized in 1955 by the sax and guitar player Nemours Jean Baptiste. Nemours Jean-Baptiste presented his orchestra “Ensemble Aux Calebasses” in 1955 (named after the club “Aux Calebasses” located at Carrefour - a western neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, Haiti's capital - where the band used to perform on weekends). Compas popularity took off likely due to the genre's ability to improvise and hold the rhythm section steady. Jean-Baptiste incorporated a lot of brass and easily recognized rhythms. Compas music is sung in Haitian Creole, English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, etc.

    Nemours' popularity grew in and out of the country. Its clean horn section was remarkable and the band featured meringue tunes that gained instant popularity. In Martinique, several music groups: Ensemble Abricot (bienvenue, festival compas), les djoubap's (Isabelle), combo jazz (electronique compas, pa gadem sou cote), Georges Plonquitte (vini dance compas direct), etc. have all within a year conquered the public with the many tunes or compositions of Nemours.[6] Haitian compas and cadence bands were asked to integrate Antillean musicians. Consequently, the leading "Les Guais troubadours", with influential singer "Louis Lahens" along other bands, played a very important role in the schooling of Antilleans to the meringue compas or kadans music style.

    Mini-jazz

    The Mini jazz movement started in the mid-1960s, small bands called mini-djaz (which grew out of Haiti’s light rock and roll yeye bands of the early 1960s) played kompa featuring paired electric guitars, electric bass, drumset and other percussion, often with a saxophone. This trend, launched by Shleu Shleu after 1965, came to include a number of groups from Port-au-Prince neighbourhoods, especially the suburb of Pétion-Ville. Tabou Combo, Les Difficiles, Les Loups Noirs, Frères DéJean, Les Fantaisistes de Carrefour, Bossa Combo and Les Ambassadeurs (among others) formed the core of this middle-class popular music movement.

    From 1968 to the 1970s prominent mini-jazz like Bossa Combo, les Shleu shleu, les Ambassadeurs, les Vickings, les fantaisistes, les Loups noirs, les Freres Dejean, les Difficiles, les Gypsies and mostly the majestic Tabou Combo have exerted a dominance on the Caribbean and many places in Europe and South America musical scene. For example, Tabou Combo has remained on the Paris hit parade for weeks with its "New York City" hit. Tabou did filled New York Central park in the same period. Guitar based mini-jazz such like Les Difficiles and Gypsies influenced many flamenco artists. The guitar was the king instrument.

    These young Haitian mini-jazz musicians were critical in the creation of new technics that contribute to the fancyness of the style. Although Raymond Guaspard (Nemours) had already started it in the 50s, however, guitar players such as Corvington (Les Corvington), Ricardo/Tiplum (Les ambassadeurs), Robert Martineau (Les Difficiles/Gypsies/Scorpio/Topvice...), Dadou Pasket (Tabou combo/Magnum band), Jean Claude Jean (Tabou combo/Super star...), Claude Marcellin (Les Difficiles/DP. Express/Zekle...), Police Nozile (Freres Dejean/DP. Express...) and many more have created intricate mostly rhythmic guitar styles that constitute a strong distinguishable feature of the meringue.

    Cadence/in the Caribbean

    Cadence rampa or kadans is a modern Haitian meringue popularized by the talented sax player Webert Sicot in the early 60s. Webert Sicot left Nemours Jean-Baptiste compas band and called his music cadence to differentiate it from compas, however, either compas or cadence is a modern meringue; only rivalery between Sicot and Nemours created these names. Because of the frequent tours of the Sicot brothers, cadence became very influential in the Caribbean.

    Maestro Webert Sicot was well regarded in Guadeloupe where musicians liked his rigorous harmonic skills. In Dominica, cadence is often called cadence-lypso while in the French Antilles kadans is the Creole world for cadence rampa.

    Digital era, new generation or light compas

    In the late 80s, After Robert Charlot Raymonvil came out with Top Vice, young Haitian music groups applied the MIDI technology that in addition to reduce the band's size offers a variety of new sounds. They were called nouvelle generation; however, most of them later, along with many other musicians in the world, went back to a full band with live instruments. The new generation was a moment of experiment with the MIDI technology. French Antilles kassav, which music repertoire is 85% compas music, was the first in the Caribbean to apply the MIDI already in use in pop and rock bands. Popular new generation bands were Zin, Phantom, Lakole, Papash and a few more. Phantom was the first to return to a full band in less than two years while zin, lakol and papash continued with the MIDI without a live horn section.

    In the early 2000, several compas bands such as Carimi, T-vice, Top vice, and Zeglen toured the French Antilles as usual with success. The singer Vro who sang in duet with Digital Compas pioneer Robert Charlot on her album Softcore and many others Antillean artists have adopted this light compas style, which is more popular in France and the Caribbean. The compas' fine guitar lines with the chorus and other synthesizer effects is being heard now in the lighter French Antilles compas. For example, French Antilles singer Tanya St. Val who has collaborated with many great Haitian compas artists like Alan Cave, Dadou Pasket from the great Magnum band, etc. is very close to this style. The beauty of this is that these compas lands influence one another with nice chorus, guitar lines, female voices...within the team up of the conga-drum-cowbell.

    Cabo Verdean, Caribbean and African artists usually feature one another via compas songs. Popular artists includes artists like Jacky Rapon in song like "Mi Amor", Ludo in song like "Weekend", Jackito in song like "Je l'aime a mourir" and Priscillia in song like "Dis le moi", Ali Angel in song like "Zouk Bordel 2003", and Iron in song like "Mr DJ" .
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    Continued.......

    Meringue-compas music and its derivatives

    Today the meringue compas, deeply rooted in many countries, has influenced many music styles and been called other names:

    Cadence/Kadans/cadence-lypso

    In Dominica, the same meringue called either cadence or compas introduced in the late 50s with the frequent tours of the Sicot brothers is often called cadence-lypso. Webert Sicot, the originator of cadance known for his great harmonic skills, was well appreciated in Guadeloupe. This is why the term cadence was more popular than the word compas. Exile One, the leader of the word cadence-lypso, featured some reggae, calypso but mostly cadence music.[7] It is not sure whether the band's intent was to fusion Trinidadian calypso with Haitian cadence since little was done. The song "La Dominique" in the album "Exile One Old School Session" could be an attempt, however, not often repeated. Exile one music repertoire is mostly cadence with all the features of the style.[8] Of course the band had its personality; it was a great kadans band.

    Zouk

    Originally zouk beton, the only zouk style created is a fast carnival tempo, mixed of gwo ka, tambour, tibwa, biguine and mostly kadans or meringue-compas with the full use of the MIDI technology. By the late 80s zouk beton lost ground. Too fast, people went back to compas music, their main music, after all French Antilleans and Dominicans are important players of the meringue-compas or cadence style. Musicians from Martinique and Guadeloupe have labeled compas music as zouk. Therefore compas music has been erroneously called zouk creating a big confusion in Africa, Cabo Verde, Angola and even in Portugal and other places. Actually since the late 80s zouk beton has faded away[9] French Antilles kassav, the originator of the zouk beton, is a superb compas music band that has taken compas to many places in Africa, France, Portugal, Cabo Verde, Angola and others.

    Coladeira

    From the 80's one can notice the strong compas music influence in Cape Verdean music. Cabo Verdeans have been exposed to the French Antilles compas in the USA and France where they adopted the styles. In addition, French Antillean artists whose main music is compas toured the island to spray the seed. Many Cabo Verdean artists feature compas music. A good example is The talented Tito Paris who produced several CDs. "danca mami Criola" 1994, is a good compas CD close to Tabou combo, kassav, Caribbean Sextet, Exile One, Tropicana, etc...Today the new generation of Cabo Verdean artists features a ligh compas close to Haitian and French Antillean New generation to what several names have been given: cola-dance, cola-zouk, cabo-swing, cabo-love, kizomba, etc.

    Kizomba

    Kizomba is a popular music from Angola. It is a derivative of traditional Angolan samba associated strongly with French Antilles compas music. Although most music came from Africa, however, Angola has been receiving Haitian influence for years. For instance, great meringue queen, Haitian Martha Jean-claude, has lent her voice and music to the Angolan revolution. She came with the Cuban troups.[10] During the 70s, Haitian bands such as Coupe cloue, bossa combo, Dp Express...were popular in Africa. During the 80s-90s, French Antilles kassav has toured the country with its fast zouk beton and mostly compas music leaving great influence. Lately, kizomba has been close to French Antilles and Cape verdian light compas music and sung generally in Portuguese. No wonder why kizomba shows that strong similarity with meringue compas.

    Etymology and characteristics

    The word “Compás” in Spanish means “beat” or “rhythm,” and one of the most distinctive characteristics of Compas music is the consistent pulsating beat (Tambora (drum)), a trait common to many styles of Caribbean music. Compas music is easy and fun to dance to, incorporating musical traditions like Méringue, which propel dancers around the floor with lively, active beats (though Compas has a slower beat and dance than Merengue). You may hear the notes of Compas music in a community of Haitian immigrants anywhere in the world, and where there is Compas, dancers are usually not far behind. Compas / Kompa is a genre of music that is emulated throughout the Caribbean and parts of Africa. In North America, compas festivals take place frequently in Montreal, New York, Miami, Boston and Orlando.

    Most influential meringue (compas/cadence) bands

    Jazz Des Jeunes, Nemours Jean-Baptiste, Ensemble Webert Sicot, Les Guais troubadours, Ochestre Tropicana, Martha Jean-claude, Les Gypsies de Petion ville, DP Express, Tabou combo, Magnum band, Coupe Cloue, Les Freres Dejean, System Band, Exile One, Grammacks, Kassav, Les shleu sleu, Djet-X, Les Skah Sha, Sweet Miky, etc.

    Notable compas or meringue artists

    Ensemble Nemours Jean-Baptiste
    Ensemble Webert Sicot
    Tabou Combo
    Les Skah Sha
    Les Freres Dejean
    Les Shleu Shleu
    DP Express
    Jet-X
    Volo Volo
    Les Leopards
    Carimi
    Coupé Cloué
    Sweet Micky
    Tito Paris
    La Perfecta
    Kassav
    Experience 7
    Ti Manno
    Eric Virgal
    Tanya St. Val
    Patrick St. Elois
    Jocelyne Beroard
    Alan Cavé
    Nu Look
    Toxic
    Djakout Mizik
    System Band
    Harmonik
    T-Vice
    Dan Junior
    Kreyol La
    Kompa Kreyol
    Les Gypsies de Petion ville
    Les Difficiles
    Les ambassadeurs
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  4. #4
    Got Kompa? tikreyol's Avatar tikreyol is offline
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    There are threads on this. If you want I'll bump them for you.

    Honestly at this point though a lot of artists are blending these genres (Konpa, Zouk, Cape Verde styles) seamlessly with such ease that its all become very blurry for a lot of people.
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    Ti sourit, ti sourit se nan pèlen ou rete
    Rat ki rat se nan pèlen ou rete
    Tèt zozo men pa ou, zozo kale men pa ou
    M ap konyen fanm nan jis solèy leve
    Bwa m kale tou wouj
    Kon piman , kon piman, Langyèt madivinèz
    Ou pa bezwen chandèl pou ou klere l

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    Repect Our Soca Pioneers Socapro's Avatar Socapro is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by tikreyol View Post
    There are threads on this. If you want I'll bump them for you.

    Honestly at this point though a lot of artists are blending these genres (Konpa, Zouk, Cape Verde styles) seamlessly with such ease that its all become very blurry for a lot of people.
    Please do!
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    Registered User Lappo's Avatar Lappo is offline
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    kompas has more live instruments, zouk was built on technology and advancing cadencelypso and kompas so naturally it has less live instruments.
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    Registered User Carib2 is offline
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    Kompa is more traditional folk sounding a think...

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    Got Kompa? tikreyol's Avatar tikreyol is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Socapro View Post
    Please do!
    To know about Konpa and Zouk you need to understand the musical culture of the French Caribbean islands. Two threads below show some of the rare discussions we have on this forum. Afropop has some good podcasts that will help you get acquainted with the music of Haiti, Guadeloupe, Martinique, and Dominica.

    More on Zouk and Kompa – Article

    So Cadence-lypso is not a real genre?

    https://soundcloud.com/afropop-world...story-of-haiti

    The French Caribbean–Cosmopolitan, Colonial, Complicated • Hip Deep • Afropop Worldwide
    Ti sourit, ti sourit se nan pèlen ou rete
    Rat ki rat se nan pèlen ou rete
    Tèt zozo men pa ou, zozo kale men pa ou
    M ap konyen fanm nan jis solèy leve
    Bwa m kale tou wouj
    Kon piman , kon piman, Langyèt madivinèz
    Ou pa bezwen chandèl pou ou klere l

  9. #9
    Repect Our Soca Pioneers Socapro's Avatar Socapro is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by tikreyol View Post
    To know about Konpa and Zouk you need to understand the musical culture of the French Caribbean islands. Two threads below show some of the rare discussions we have on this forum. Afropop has some good podcasts that will help you get acquainted with the music of Haiti, Guadeloupe, Martinique, and Dominica.

    More on Zouk and Kompa – Article

    So Cadence-lypso is not a real genre?

    https://soundcloud.com/afropop-world...story-of-haiti

    The French Caribbean–Cosmopolitan, Colonial, Complicated • Hip Deep • Afropop Worldwide
    Those links are mostly an unnecessary waste of my precious time.

    I already know enough about the definition and history of Zouk & Kompas as is evident from my own posts on the subject in posts #2 & #3 above.

    What I asked for is for some audio examples between the two genres as is clearly stated in post #1.

    Maybe if you took time to read my request properly you will not be wasting my time like this as a supposed Zouk and Kompas expert in response to a very simple request.

    The explanation that Lappo posted above in post #6 was helpful but what I really wanted was a few clear audio examples of Zouk (which I am more familiar with) and Kompas to be posted to this thread that clearly show the differences between the two genres.

    PS: This thread is not just for my benefit but for anyone else who would like to be able to tell the difference between Zouk & Kompas music when they hear it.
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  10. #10
    Got Kompa? tikreyol's Avatar tikreyol is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Socapro View Post
    Those links are mostly an unnecessary waste of my precious time.

    I already know enough about the definition and history of Zouk & Kompas as is evident from my own posts on the subject in posts #2 & #3 above.

    What I asked for is for some audio examples between the two genres as is clearly stated in post #1.

    Maybe if you took time to read my request properly you will not be wasting my time like this as a supposed Zouk and Kompas expert in response to a very simple request.

    The explanation that Lappo posted above in post #6 was helpful but what I really wanted was a few clear audio examples of Zouk (which I am more familiar with) and Kompas to be posted to this thread that clearly show the differences between the two genres.

    PS: This thread is not just for my benefit but for anyone else who would like to be able to tell the difference between Zouk & Kompas music when they hear it.
    Knowing the wikipedia definition is not knowing enough LOL If you knew enough you wouldn't be in here asking for help so stop playing games! If I'm going to give you a response you have to understand the MUSIC. ALL OF IT. Now go through those posts and get some knowledge. The response Lappo gave you was FALSE! But if you want to believe it you go ahead LOL. Until then I suggest you educate yourself on our music the RIGHT WAY.
    Ti sourit, ti sourit se nan pèlen ou rete
    Rat ki rat se nan pèlen ou rete
    Tèt zozo men pa ou, zozo kale men pa ou
    M ap konyen fanm nan jis solèy leve
    Bwa m kale tou wouj
    Kon piman , kon piman, Langyèt madivinèz
    Ou pa bezwen chandèl pou ou klere l

  11. #11
    Repect Our Soca Pioneers Socapro's Avatar Socapro is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by tikreyol View Post
    Knowing the wikipedia definition is not knowing enough LOL If you knew enough you wouldn't be in here asking for help so stop playing games! If I'm going to give you a response you have to understand the MUSIC. ALL OF IT. Now go through those posts and get some knowledge. The response Lappo gave you was FALSE! But if you want to believe it you go ahead LOL. Until then I suggest you educate yourself on our music the RIGHT WAY.
    You know what go to hell if you can't post a few Kompas and Zouk tracks that show the clear differences between the two genres.

    You should learn to read request properly before wasting others people's time as well as your own.

    Maybe someone else with better reading comprehension skills can deal with my requests.

    PS: This thread is not just for my benefit but for anyone else who would like to be able to tell the difference between Zouk & Kompas music when they hear it.
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    Registered User Poca's Avatar Poca is offline
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    But if you already know the definition and history of both genres what is keeping you from finding songs that explain what you are looking for?

    If you really know, you wouldn't need to be spoon fed the songs. You would be able to find them yourself.
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  13. #13
    Repect Our Soca Pioneers Socapro's Avatar Socapro is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Poca View Post
    But if you already know the definition and history of both genres what is keeping you from finding songs that explain what you are looking for?

    If you really know, you wouldn't need to be spoon fed the songs. You would be able to find them yourself.
    If as so-called Zouk and Kompas experts none of you can post a few Zouk and Kompas songs to this thread that clearly show the difference between both genres then please save us the time wasting lectures and go post in another thread.

    Blessed thanks.

    PS: This thread is not just for my benefit but for anyone else who would like to be able to tell the difference between Zouk & Kompas music when they hear it.
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    Registered User Poca's Avatar Poca is offline
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    What you fail to understand is that konpa and zouk folks do not need to prove anything to fill your obsessive self in order to appreciate and enjoy our music. Konpa and zouk don't need no pro. We just get into the music and do yon ti kolé séré ak yon ti boubout.

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    Registered User Seawall's Avatar Seawall is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Poca View Post
    What you fail to understand is that konpa and zouk folks do not need to prove anything to fill your obsessive self in order to appreciate and enjoy our music. Konpa and zouk don't need no pro. We just get into the music and do yon ti kolé séré ak yon ti boubout.
    Banna is lucky, he could easily search youtube or old videos that we've posted on this board. When I first started listening to zouk, YouTube wasn't around. I had to start off with a Tabou Combo LP that I purchased below



    And this compilation,


    My first zouk records were by kassav




    And zouk compilations





    Fortunately, Tower Records existed back then, so I could go and browse and spend my money. Also, there was also a Haitian show on the radio that I listened to every Saturday night ("Konbit Lakay hosted by Yves Dayiti). However, zouk did hit me the hardest. Its rhythms are easier for the uninitiated to get into. It took years for me to fully get into konpa. I loved the music racine and carnaval music, and enjoyed watching videos by groups like Koudjay, Tokay, Ram, and Boukman Eksperyans on a cable show called Haiti A Suivre. And when I heard the music on the Parkway, it was wild.


    However, like I said, konpa took some time. My favorite artist was, and still is, Emeline Michel, someone who really doesn't record straight konpa, but a mixture of troubadou, jazz, konpa and other rhythms. New Jeneration bands like Zin were also easier to get into. However, I've since discovered Cubano and Shelu Shelu, and Shah Skah, Larose, Ti Manno, and many more. If you want a gateway group, look for Carimi and T Vice (I don't listen to them, but someone who is new to konpa may find them easier to digest). Misty Jean also records konpa lite music. There are groups like Djakout Mizik, Phantoms, and Dixie Band that I still haven't gotten into, though I have their music. Haitian music is very deep. I can't say that I'm happy with the present state of the music. I have access to many of the new recordings, but there's very little that grabs me. Too much technology, and too many attempts to cross over. However, just about every group has released a live recording and often these records sound better than the studio versions. BTW, this process took over twenty years.


    Misty Jean.

    Socapro likes this.
    "Every onlooker is either a coward or a traitor." — Frantz Fanon

    “If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.” Frederick Douglass

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