Toppa Top ’15: The 15 Best Caribbean Albums of 2015

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December 23, 2015

13. Beken – Troubadour

During the two Duvalier dictatorships, a boulevard named Portail Leogane became Port Au Princeโ€™s center for guitar playing in the street and in bars, and of the production of both romantic and political lyrics. Portail Leogane, โ€œPortay,โ€ was where truck drivers dropped their passengers off, and walked to the nearest bar for a drink, and where the elite and the middle classes socialized with the poor. The Portail even had a cuisine, Poul Logey (Ze Bouyi, Soup Joumou, Bega) to match the drinking and the talking. Jean-Prosper Dauphin, a courageous troubadour with one leg known as Beken, is the best musician that the Portail has produced. His songs like โ€œKwa Pa mโ€ have become classics of Haitian song. Right after the Earthquake in 2010, Beken’s music became the most played in the streets of Port Au Prince, during a time of tremendous pain and grief. His first release in the US, after a long hiatus, Troubadour (Thirty Tigers), is a showcase of his guitar mastery, as well as the Portail scene that has all but died. All of the songs on the album are great. โ€œTon Nwelโ€ is a standout, and is a sad Christmas song. Troubadour is an album to listen to as an example of artistic mastery, but also as the product of a subculture that has almost died with the times. โ€”Adolf Alzuphar