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The Folk Music Of Haitian Troubadour Beken

Haitian songwriter Beken blends poetic, acoustic melodies with méringue and Cuban guajjiro his latest album 'Troubadour.'


Photo via Tumblr.

Haitian singer-songwriter Beken has faced many hardships in his life, he lost his leg in a car accident at the age of 12 and he was one of the many Haitians to suffer through the aftermath of the catastrophic earthquake that devastated the nation in 2010. Though Beken has seen great struggle, his circumstances have never prevented him from creating a soulful and melodic brand of Haitian folk music in the style of Twobadou — a form of Haitian music that blends poetic, Creole lyrics with understated acoustic melodies and accordions.

Beken's music gained popularity in Haiti and he briefly toured the U.S. in the 1980s. After a prolonged hiatus, Beken was rediscovered in 2010 while living in a camp for displaced persons where he caught the attention of photographer Simon Romero, who was moved by Beken's music after hearing him sing through a window in the camp. Producers Chris Donahue and David Macias of Thirty Tigers soon caught wind of Beken and his spirit-filled work and they felt inspired to help introduce the songwriter to a new audience. Donahue and Macias helped produce Beken's newest album Troubadour, a tuneful yet melancholic record that effortlessly captures the mood and spirit of the Haitian people following the devastating event.

Troubadour is Beken's first release under a U.S. label; his warm vocals along with the soothing guitar melodies that permeate the album, make for a delightful and calming listening experience. The 10-track album includes an array of expressive songs, all sung in his native Creole, and influenced by the Haitian méringue and Cuban guajiro styles. His latest single "Woulman Zanmi" is one of the more upbeat songs on the album, a vibrant offering that reflects the charm and liveliness of traditional Haitian music. Beken's compositions are a wonderful introduction to Haitian folk music for those who are unfamiliar with the sound. Listen to Beken's latest single "Woulman Zanmi" along with the rest of the album below.

Interview

Sarkodie Is Not Feeling Any Pressure

The elite Ghanaian rapper affirms his king status with this seventh studio album, No Pressure.

Sarkodie is one of the most successful African rappers of all time. With over ten years of industry presence under his belt, there's no question about his prowess or skin in the game. Not only is he a pioneer of African hip-hop, he's also the most decorated African rapper, having received over 100 awards from close to 200 nominations over the span of his career.

What else does Sarkodie have to prove? For someone who has reached and stayed at the pinnacle of hip-hop for more than a decade, he's done it all. But despite that, he's still embracing new growth. One can tell just by listening to his latest album, No Pressure, Sarkodie's seventh studio album, and the follow-up to 2019's Black Love which brought us some of the Ghanaian star's best music so far. King Sark may be as big as it gets, but the scope of his music is still evolving.

Sonically, No Pressure is predominantly hip-hop, with the first ten tracks offering different blends of rap topped off with a handful of afrobeats and, finally, being crowned at the end with a gospel hip-hop cut featuring Ghanaian singer MOG. As far as the features go, Sark is known for collaborating mostly with his African peers but this time around he branches out further to feature a number of guests from around the world. Wale, Vic Mensa, and Giggs, the crème de la crème of rap in America and the UK respectively all make appearances, as well as Nigeria's Oxlade, South Africa's Cassper Nyovest, and his fellow Ghanaian artists Darkovibes and Kwesi Arthur.

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