The Gem Hidden in Carimi’s Latest Album

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Tidodo
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The Gem Hidden in Carimi's Latest Album

Post by Tidodo » Sun Jan 28, 2007 10:23 pm

People, Haitians for that matter, tend to be divided into two opposite camps when it comes to Carimi's music. You can love it or hate it. Even if you hate Carimi's music, the lyrics of its new song “Pouvwa” on its latest album is enough to want to buy the CD. In this song, the young musicians of Carimi are expressing again their blind love for their native country.

Carimi is no stranger to patriotic lyrics in their music. With Ayiti Bang Bang on their first album about seven years ago, Michael Guirand and Richard Cave raised alarming concerns for where their beloved country was heading. In retrospect, this was an omen for the current situation in Haiti. With Pouvwa, this time, Michael Guirand teamed up with Glenny Benoit, the talented guitarist who joined Carimi after the first album was released, to surpass in my opinion the lyrics of Ayiti Bang Bang. To put this in perspective, Ayiti Bang Bang is the song that drove Carimi to be perhaps the most popular Haitian Konpa group, not only in Haiti and where Haitians live in the diaspora, but also in all the overseas French departments and in France, a feat not matched by almost no other Haitian group in history. To claim that “Pouvwa” is better carries considerable risk to one's credibility. But, the song is so well written that making that claim is a risk that I dare take.

The song starts with the recurring theme “Pa bezwen Pouvwa, Non Mèsi Pouvwa.” The writers narrowed down the problems of their beloved country to the universal thirst and obsession of all Haitians for positions of power in their country. There is nothing new with that observation. But what is exceptional in the song is the way they wrote it. Here, the experience of Michael Guirand with Ayiti Bang Bang showed up. Not once in the song the name of Ayiti showed up. In fact, they went as far as universalizing the obsession with power, which is also a truth that permeated the way the U.S. constitution was written, in order to make the song palatable to all. Here is a sample of that:

Gade kijan gwo peyi ap kraze piti
Yo itilize pouvwa pou yo fè abi
La guè preske tout kote, nan le monde antier (sic)
Paske se yon ban insense kap dirige(sic)

But, we all know that their concern here is Ayiti. For, the Carimi young musicians have shown over and over how much they love their native country. In writing the song, they also showed that you can be productive without being antagonistic. They went out of their way not to point finger at any person or leader (in the process avoiding to be labeled for or against any particular group). This was done without taking anything away from the message of the song.

The message is that it takes people with special talents to be leaders, like the following refrain in this song states:

Si'w bezwen lidè, epi'w pa popilè
Sa pou fè'l
Si'w vle dirije, epi'w pa kalifie
Sa pou fè'l

But the genius of the song is the tact used in it to attack a problem that is omnipresent in Ayiti. They use devices, such as dreams to drive their points like in these verses:

Yèswa m'reve Kalo di'm li kandida
Sa son'w piyay, bagay sa son'w piyay
Yèswa m'reve Richa di'm li prodiktè
Sa son'w piyay, bagay sa son'w piyay

With this song, Glenny Benoit showed that he is not only a talented guitarist, he can also compose. We hope to enjoy more of his songs in the future. Michael Guirand, on the other hand, continued to prove why Carimi is the most popular Haitian group. He does not only write good lyrics, he is an accomplished entertainer. If you don't believe me, try to go to one of their “bals” in Miami.

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Guysanto
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Post by Guysanto » Mon Jan 29, 2007 7:11 am

Great stuff, Tidodo! Thanks for sharing.

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Marilyn
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So Impressed, I Bought The Album!

Post by Marilyn » Mon Jan 29, 2007 5:06 pm

I was so impressed with Tododo's post, I immediately bought Carimi's latest album "Are You Ready?". I'm paying attention to the words of not only "Pouvwa", but the others as well.

Thanks, Tidodo! I like the group's sound, as well as content.

Marilyn

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Guysanto
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Post by Guysanto » Wed Jan 31, 2007 8:36 pm

Marilyn, you are full of surprises! First, the wonderful one you sprang by registering again. Then, that you would so quickly act on Jean-Marie's post and buy a Konpa CD. Next thing I know, you'll be going to a "bal" in Boston!

Over the last several months, I have tried to contact you with little success. But I do understand about your urgent family priorities. It's amazing really, considering the burdens that you have faced over the years, that you have stuck with your online family even when we seemed resigned not to hear from you again. In reality, not one day has passed by that I haven't thought "but where is Marilyn...?" and wished you well, really, truly.

Would you know I do not have a single Carimi album? Not one from Zin, not one from T-Vice, not one from the dozens of Konpa groups that have sprung from nowhere in the past 20 years... but I do have one from Zenglen. And you know why? Jean-Marie did the same trick on me that he did on you. After reading the dual commentary (between him and Serge) on which tracks of "Le Konpa" they liked best, I just had to get in my car and drive to a CD store to get Richie's latest. Jean-Marie, in particular, seems to have that kind of effect on people, but little could I imagine that he would move a White Grandmother in Boston (though completely Haitian at heart) to hurry and buy a Carimi album.

On that note, I move to nominate Jean-Marie as Salesman of the Year.

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Marilyn
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Post by Marilyn » Thu Feb 01, 2007 11:09 am

Guy wrote:

[quote]. . . little could I imagine that he [Jean-Marie] would move a White Grandmother in Boston (though completely Haitian at heart) to hurry and buy a Carimi album.[/quote]

Yes, Jean-Marie is quite a salesman. But, I also attribute my rush to purchase the Carimi album to two other dynamics: 1) the message content of "Pouvwa" and 2) my pent-up homesickness for Ann Pale and all things Creole!

Just as I re-registered and posted once again to Ann Pale, I had to act upon adding more Creole to my mp3 player!

I'm glad I did all three!

It's good to be back home.

Marilyn

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