Words by Jesse Serwer
This is Haiti’s year. Donald Trump’s “shithole” comment has inspired many reactions but, fortunately, one of the strongest has been genuine curiosity in the actual condition of a nation that’s perpetually being misrepresented and oversimplified by those elsewhere. For the first time in modern history, Haiti is in the center of a major global news story not because a tragedy or political upheaval that’s taking its citizens lives. An ignoramus betrayed his ignorance. So what. Good things will come from this. They already are.
Into this moment step Kazitexx, a Wu Tang-sized crew of producers and rappers from Haiti with tentacles in France, the Netherlands, the Dominican Republic and the USA. The group, whose (roughly eight to 11) members met in high school in Port-au-Prince, have been dropping bilingual Soundcloud singles and YouTube videos for about two years, and are about to drop their first EP, SAN KONPLEX. While their work follows a variety of directions, from trap to more traditional styles of rap, their best tracks, like “Ou La La (Remix),” stir the swirling melodies of Haitian kompa into the pot. A year after Haitian-American pop singer Jason Derulo sent dog whistles out to Haitian uncles with the giddy kompa keyboard solo on “Swalla,” (and six months after Wyclef returned with the final installment of his Carnival album series) Kazitexx are well positioned to make some legit international noise with Kreyol rap.
“Vibe Nou,” the lead single from SAN KONPLEX, doesn’t lean towards kompa, but this uptempo track with a self-explanatory title is an invigorating listen. Lyrically, the song is split virtually 50/50 between English and Kreyol, with each of its eight MCs bringing a different flow and style. A found footage-style video depicts scenes of uptown luxury and carefree living sure to conflict with Trumpian views on Haiti.
“Vibe Nou is a song that is all about having a good time with family and friends,” says Kazitexx’s Gino. “The song and video show our fans that we are all about positive vibes, no matter the circumstances. The beginning is Flex, how Kazitexx enjoys themselves during the evening. The perfect example of how we party in Haiti. But, ‘Vibe Nou’ is going to show you how our time during the day goes. As a group we wanted to show our fans how we enjoy our day, and how everything flows into the night life with Kazitexx. Two great vibes, but at different times!”
Kazitexx’s SAN KONPLEX is out in mid-February on Los Angeles-based Point Records. Watch “Vibe Nou” here: