Wa Di Yo” – Lakou Mizik –
Cumbancha Discovery Records
The Jan. 12th 2010 earthquake in Haiti may have destroyed much of the country, as well as lives and families, but the one thing that this horrendous natural disaster could not hinder was the spirit of a people who have lived revolution and uproar for centuries.
A big part of that spirit was a musical culture that was comprised of so many elements, including Haitian folk music, gospel, and even voodoo chants.
These music styles and forms of expression are all explored on “Wa Di Yo”, which ironically translates to, “we are still here”.
This project was launched in response to the 2010 disaster by a cross generation list of the who’s who in the country’s music scene.
Guitarist/singer Steeve Valcourt, son of Boulo Valcourt of The Carribean Sextet, hatched this idea in his basement studio and brought in a cast of musicians who spearheaded this project with a concept similar to Cuba’s Buena Vista Social Club. Valcourt then brought in American producer Zach Niles, who had also been involved in a similar project a decade prior with Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars. Also joining the production team would be Montreal’s Chris Velan and Britain’s Iestyn Polson, known for his work with David Bowie, Patti Smith and several others.
Joining this musical army would now be singers Jonas Attis, Nadine Remy accordion player Belony Beniste, bassist Lamarre Junior, cornet and percussionists James Carrier “Ti Malis” and Peterson Joseph “Ti Piti”, as well as drummers Louis Lesly Marcelin “Sanba Zao” and Woulele Marcelin.
The American influence can be felt right away on the album’s opening cut “Poze”, which is pure zydeko from New Orleans, while “Anba Siklon” has a pure American ‘country and western’ feel fuelled by traditional Haitian folk harmonies.
Valcourt, who spent a good part of his life shuffling between Haiti and the U.S., may have a had big part in this.
Nadine Remy’s velvety smooth vocals melt all over “Panama’m Tonbe” whose calypso-like groove keeps the listener smiling.
The Voodoo chants on “Bade Zile”, “Parenn Legba” and “Zao Pile Te” are haunting and inspirational, and in the latter, funky all at once.
The traditional folk of “Tanbou’n Frape”, “Is Fat Ti Bo”, “Pran Ka Mwen” and the title track bring this album back home as “lakou” in Haitian Creole means “where you are from”.
A beautiful musical homecoming! Rating = 7/10
“ColleGrove” – 2 Chainz –
Def Jam Records
It’s almost hard to believe that this is only the 3rd solo album from the man who used to be known as Tity Boi when he was one half of the College Park, Georgia, duo Playaz Circle, along with Dolla Boy. The duo formed in the late 90s and recorded an indie album which was never released, due to the 2002 Chainz shooting and Dolla Boy being incarcerated. Playaz Circle’s first recording was released in 2007 on Ludacris’ Disturbing Tha Peace Records.
After leaving Disturbing Tha Peace, Tity Boi changed his stage name to 2 Chainz after complaints that it was offensive to women and released his solo debut set “Based On A T.R.U. Story”, which went to the top of the charts.
His sophomore joint “B.O.A.T.S. II Me Time” was released the following year, then he announced that a collaboration with long-time friend, Cash Money superstar, Lil’ Wayne would be his next project.
After recording an album of material with production by the who’s who of contemporary hip-hop, Mike Will Made It, Mannie Fresh, Frank Dukes, Bobby Kritical, Da Honourable C-Note, Mr, 2-17, Southside, Infamous, Reignman Rich, Lil’ C, London on da Track, TM88, Zaytoven, Ben Billionz and Metro Boomin’, a record label dispute prevented “ColleGrove” from being a collaboration with the set being released on Chainz’s label, Def Jam, with Weezie as a “featured artist.
Reviewing an album of this sort in the “Black Lives Matter” era is indeed no easy task. As both of these superstars have travelled the world, both their perceptions of life you would think would be less limited than the average person, at least the average “Black” person.
The fact that both these men are from the south would also lead one to believe that they are both aware of what issues Black people face in America, at least one would think 2 Chainz does, as he’s approaching 40, as compared to Weezie, who’s still in his early 30s.
After all, the album’s name is based on their southern origins; 2 Chainz is from College Park, Georgia and Lil’ Wayne hails from the Hollygrove area of New Orleans, Louisiana.
The album opens with “Dedication”, whose intro features a small trip down memory lane with Chainz and Weezie reminiscing and then the story begins. “Dedication” has Chainz and Weezie flaunting drug use and drug dealing. “We was smokin’ that gas in ’03, Was gonna sell a few bags to Lil’ Fee”.
They also talk about the fascination they share with cough syrup consumption; “When I hit your cup with that drank, had a nigga stomach like wait”. Drank”, “syrup” or “Purple Drank” as it’s called is a concoction of alcohol, with cough syrup whose deadly ingredients of codeine and promethazine cause an hallucinogenic effect with the brain in an off-balanced altered state, which has resulted in a slew of deaths, including that of famed Houston, Texas record spinner, DJ Screw, whose “chopped ‘n’ Screwed style of hip-hop was meant to be listened to under the influence of this deadly potion. DJ Screw would die from this drug in 2000.
As a matter of fact, drug use is flaunted all over “ColleGrove”. On “Bounce” Wayne proclaims: “I’m so high the blunt feel like a dumbbell, these niggas tiny like a spider on Spud Webb, I got some upscale cocaine on my thumbnail, I feed it to my fun girls, they say f&%$ yeah”.
An obviously very wasted 2 Chainz raps on the chorus of the self-explanatory “100 Joints”; “No matter what they say I smoke 100 joints a day, I had ‘em pre-rolled all yesterday”. On “Gotta Lotta” Lil’ Wayne sings in the auto-tuned chorus; I said we gotta lotta dope, we gotta lotta smoke, we got weed, that’s a lotta smoke”. So it’s clear that Chainz and Weezie like to do drugs and they want the whole world to know about it.
On “Section” 2 Chainz confesses: “I got them commas on commas, I’m rockin’ Polo pyjamas, I went to jail, I might go to hell, I used to sell drugs to my mama”.
Although the beats on “Bounce” and “Rolls Royce Weather Every Day” get an “A” for effort, overall production on “ColleGrove” is mainly drug-influenced which leave it sounding amateur and sub-standard for the most part.
Most of 2 Chainz and Lil’ Wayne’s cadences sound like they’re strung out and most of their lyrics sound like one long bad drug-trip. It’s a shame that a much-anticipated collab by these 2 rap giants leave us wondering if they’re aware that Black Lives Matter! Rating = 4/10