Yo Towing Ou | 6m22s | 116 BPM
A song intro is supposed to build anticipation, but these first fifty seconds–with dog snarl, Pipo and Richie yapping, laughing, screaming anmwéé, Auto-Tune galore–serve as reminder for why I turn my nose up to today’s bands. I’ve found that such shenanigans don’t usually lead to good or even interesting songs. This opening track doesn’t do much to help disprove that theory. If Richie wants to hear an effective intro, I recommend Tabou Combo’s Aki Yoko, which also illustrates how to double synth and guitar. Are they really singing “Men Pozo?”. Oh dear!
You Don’t Want Me | 5m57s | 86 BPM
I like the synth pad in the beginning; I wish it played a more prominent role and not be so buried when it did get used. Lyrics are the typical love-soap-opera tale [Arly-esque]. Ladies who are fans of this schmaltzy style will definitely sing along, but there’s no killer hook that’ll stick in their heads. My interest took a leave of absence right around 3m00s; the remaining 2m57s are filled with haughty keyboard playing and more rambling vocals from Pipo.
Fè’l Vini Avan | 5m26s | 100 BPM
As I listened, I couldn’t help but wonder how many spoiled regions I’d need to cut out of this animal before it’s fit for human consumption. Some of the suggestive lyrics, cut; tons of digital synth presets, cut; female vocals that sound as if coming from hired “lady entertainers” at a bachelor party, cut; hideous keyboard solos, large deep cut. Pipo’s singing does not require a cut, but I honestly will not miss it if it’s not there. You know, at this point, I risk slicing my pinkie off if I continue cutting; there’s no meat left on this carcase.
Pitit Deyò | 6m00s | 86 BPM
In the role of illegitimate child, Richie does a fair amount of preaching and whinging. By the end of verse two, I’d had more than my fair share of his sob story and had already heard all I needed to hear as far as the music is concerned. “Papa’m vlé supòté’m / Men madanm li opozé / ay no way / Paske m’sé pitit deyò.” Anything beyond that might as well be sound from a coffee grinder; it’s best tuning it out. This song is Exhibit A for why I believe the synthesizer is one of the worst things to ever happen to Konpa. My Goodness!
Priyorite | 5m46s | 98 BPM
Badly written lyrics about getting our priorities straight “pou Haïti ka chanjé”. I’m surprised we didn’t get the good ol’ “Maché main dans la main” in there. The horns would have lifted this average track if only they were arranged by someone who knows good Konpa horns. These nu-producers definitely need a consultant in that department. Someone with the Dejean last name, perhaps? These guys think keyboard solos are pistach griyé tou kalé; they just can’t keep their hands off. If I’m in the Mr. Producer’s chair, I’m cutting most of it to make room for a bigger trumpet presence. Fading things out with a fifteen second trumpet part is a strange decision.
Mizik Sa | 5m01s | 88 BPM
I got a good chuckle when I heard the sound effect in the beginning; a certain Mega Hit immediately came to mind. Here’s an example of unnecessarily wordy lyrics. “Olyé n’plédé di n’a gen tan pou exprimé lanmou / Pito n’profité chak moman lavi a ofri nou / Sé konsèy sa’a m’ta ba nou.” A smarter version could simply say, “Pa di n’a gen tan pou exprimé lanmou / Profité chak moman lavi a ofri nou.” There’s no need for that “konsèy” phrase at all. Okay, what do I hear in this arrangement? Pipo sings, horrible keyboard solo…Pipo sings some more, more insufferable siwèl…Lather, rinse, repeat…. Someone should also tell the man that “Héhéy” is already taken by Gazzman.
Disregarding the trite lyrics, I do find a few pleasantries in here. The absence of a keyboard solo is very much appreciated. Introduction of the clavinet pattern [0m48s] is a nice surprise; it’s not at the level ofStevie Wonder’s Superstition, but hey, I don’t want to be too greedy. Again, the parts played by the brass section are decent, but the ensemble just doesn’t sound quite right; the sax solo is not too shabby. For a change, El Pozo did something interesting with his guitar. With some polishing, this track would easily be a favourite. Kisa ki ayisyen an anyway?
Enmène-Moi | 5m37s | 86 BPM
Word has it that Pipo bolted from Nu Look because Arly wouldn’t include this French piece on their last record. The Kréyol refrain “Kore’m la / Chéri pa déplasé / Doudou m’vle ou tchenbé’m fò / Chéri mwen”is fantastic, shower-singing worthy. But of course, don’t expect it to stick around for long because we must always follow the multi-refrain Konpa template. The French “Emmène-moi / Ne me deçois pas” is not bad, but doesn’t register as strongly. Guitar solo is begging to stay in the spotlight, but nope, we need to be treated to more horrific keyboards. A slight deviation from the norm could have turned a good song into something really special. Why can’t Pipo shut up when he’s not required to sing?
Move Siyal | 5m44s | 92 BPM
This number has it all: police sirens, Kréyol rhymes with a bit of English, a bit of Auto-Tune effect on Richie’s voice, a bit of rap, and lots of that 1980s orchestra hit sample. I collected marbles when I was a small boy; Richie has spent his adulthood amassing wealth in musical clichés. I do admire his attempt at bringing a differently flavoured Konpa on this track, but his reliance on son lari guitar and siwel is a letdown. If I’m listening to this in a crowded club, I’ll probably join in on the infectious “Ou ban’m mové siyal” hook [love that female “Ooh”]. In quieter settings, however, it’s too chaotic and has very little to latch on to in the details area.
Bootleg | 5m04s | 138 BPM
The 2013 kanaval was held in Richie’s hometown, yes? I reckon this méringue carnavalesque was whipped up for a Cap-Haitien Chérie return that never was. I didn’t care for kanaval as a boy [probably due to mychaloskaphobia]and still despise these wretched songs as an adult.
Bagay 9 (Remix) | 5m42s | 116 BPM
Whether it’s the old version with Ballywood [or is it Hollywood? Haliwoud?]on vocals or this “remix” with Pipo, this is vapid music at its crappiest. Such a waste of recording studio time! I commend folks who manage to enjoy this rubbish. Actually, what I’d really like to do is beat better taste into them, but I’m trying to be a much kinder and gentler human being. [Pis may bròdè!]
What’s with the mostly all-female background vocals on these so-called full bands lately? Have Haitian producers given up on trying to get male backing vocals to sound right? Why does Klass choke their mixes with so many badly EQ-ed instrument parts? Did these guys just discover synthesizers? Enposib! Why must these Klass clowns yell out “K-l-a-s-s” or “Klass, it is, baby / Yes, it is, baby” on every song? Une vraie stupidité!
Richie’s fellow Capois, and fans who think Pipo is a better vocalist than Kino or Gazzman will no doubt get their fill of “Fè’l Vini Avan”. But for me, there is nothing on this wreckage that would make me want to listen to it again. Not the singing; not the writing; not the instrumentation; not the musicianship; not its sound. Nothing! As with other mediocre albums, there are a couple of bright moments, but even those tunes are not smooth sailing. I wish I could find one moment of brilliance on this record to brag about. Even fanatik who claim to “have it on repeat” will soon forget it when the next record from some other overhyped band is released. I recently read an article by a foreign journalist in which Konpa was described as “party music” [i.e. shallow, unsophisticated]. Yeah, I was less than amused at the time, but this Klass debut has really forced me to reexamine that definition.
Jean H. Richard [Richie]: Band Leader, Drums, Percussion, Lead Vocal, Rap [oh goodie!]
Edersse Stanis [Pipo]: Lead Vocal
Nixon Mésidor [Nicky]: Bass
Louixène R. Floristal [El Pozo]: Lead Guitar
Wid Pierre [Cheveu]: Percussions
Kevin Gaippe [Bel Kod]: Guitar
Sorel Sanon [Soso Brezo]: Congas, Percussion
Rossely Paul [T-Wes]: Keyboards [cool your heels, son!]
More Credits [done typing!]