It was eight years ago today, in the early morning hours, the news started to circulate that three members and a couple of friends of the popular Haiti based Rap Kreyol group, Barikad Crew had gotten into a car accident and there were fatalities. The accident occurred on Route de L’aéroport while the group was on their way to perform for one of their biggest supporters; Radio Caraibe FM who was celebrating its 59th year anniversary. As the day matured, more information came in from several media outlets out of Haiti, they all confirmed the news, identified the victims and the cause of the accident.
The victims: Jean Walker Sénatus, aka Papa K-Tafalk, Johnny Emmanuel, aka DADE, Junior Badio aka Déja Voo, the group’s drummer Wilderson Maglorie aka Ti-Baté and a friend of the group who was driving the doomed vehicle, Guichard Labranche. All five victims were electrocuted and burnt beyond recognition when a high tension electrical wire struck their car after hitting what is thought to be a divider. A couple of days later Papa Katafal’s fiancée, Nathalia Léonida Bertrand who was said to have been pregnant at the time, committed suicide with a single gunshot wound to the head.
Barikad Crew burst onto the Haitian Hip Hop/ Rap Kreyol scene back in 2002 after a group of friend; Bricks, Brital, DADE, Deja-Voo, Fantom, Izolan, Kondagana, Marco, Master Sun, Papa K-tafalk and Young Cliff, (the baby of the group) decided to collaborate and form a group where they can showcase their store telling and rhyming skills. Soon after they started to see a lot potential for success as a unit so they decided to take it more seriously and dubbed themselves Barikad Crew. The group chose the name Barikad Crew because of all of the barricades (obstacles) they felt that were placed in front of them as individual MCs. Unlike today, a solo rap artist wasn’t as successful back then and the group of young men realized that early on. Barikad Crew has helped elevate the fading Haitian Hip Hop/Rap Kreyol genre receive international acclaim and to this day the group is still considered one of the most popular and hottest Rap Kreyol groups.
In the end of 2007, the group released their debut album titled “Goumen pou sa’w Kwe” (Fight for what you believe). With tracks like Stand Up, Jwi Lavi, Sakrifis, O yeah, Se Konsa Lye, the title track and the mega radio hit Banm Afè’m , BC proved to the critics that popular music in Haiti didn’t necessarily have to come from established Konpa bands and that there is room for other genres to be successful in Haiti. By Carnival time the following year, they released a monster meringue called “Ti Fi Pile, Ti Gason Pyafe” and a superb video to suit; proving once more that they are not to be taken lightly.
On June 15, 2008, the unthinkable happened; sending the country and the music industry as a whole into shock and left them in mourning when the accident that took five lives of them the founder of the group, Papa K-tafalk. The government later gave the victims a national funeral and between 60,000 to 100,000 individuals descended on to the city to pay their respects. The support clearly highlighted the popularity of the group. Many artists recorded songs in a show of solidarity and support for the BC family. For the remaining members, the outpour of support gave them the strength to go on and continue with the work they were set out to do.
They later signed with Wyclef Jean’s Sak Pase records and went to work. The outcome: their second album titled Jisko Bou which was released in late 2008 and immediately sold thousand and thousand of units in Haiti alone. The CD contains songs like Ayiti pi Red, Jiskobou, Mete’l and Selebre. Though in their hearts they miss their fallen comrades, BC hasn’t skipped a beat and they continue to wow their fans and critics alike. In February 2009, they not only released the hottest carnival for the year but they also made their long-awaited debut in the US’s big Apple at SOBs Night Club in Manhattan.
Tragedy strikes over and over again
Tragedy struck again less than two years after the fatal accident took place, another member, Young Cliff, died in January 2010 in Haiti at his manager Youri Chevry’s house during the Earthquake that also claimed the life of his manager’s wife and hundreds of thousands of Haitian on the island.
On 17 February 2015, rapper Fantom was hit by a high-voltage power cord during the carnival defile causing panic in the crowd below which led to a stampede. 16 people died and more than 70 were injured. Many have expressed that if it wasn’t for the fatal accident that took the lives of the three members, BC would not be enjoying the level of success they are right now. Whatever the case may be, but with all the tragedies they’ve endured; BC still carrying the legacy.
It’s been nine years today since the first BC tragedy, but the fallen members have to be proud of their bandmates’ accomplishments so far and they must also be proud of the inspiration and courage they brought to not only their band but the whole Rap Kreyol movement they were fighting for as a whole. They’ve since worked with some of the hottest producers and artists in the American music industry and some of the members have also found time to pursue their own solo careers releasing singles, albums and participating on compilation CDs.