For those of you who don’t know, I’m a child from the Haitian Diaspora and though there is a strong delegation of Haitians in my city it was still hard to keep the connection between the culture I was being taught at school and the culture my mom was teaching me from her homeland. It always felt like her cultural heritage had an expiration date because there wasn’t really anyone with whom I could continue cultivating the legacy. This made me wonder where does Haitian culture come into play in the modern diaspora’s lives if many of us refuse to speak the language, never go back to the homeland and barely know the history?
Thankfully in 2008 I was introduced to Vox Sambou’s debut album Lakay (translation: home). It was the first time in my life I heard a full Hip Hop album in creole (with a few multilingual collabos) that actually spoke to me. Not only was Vox spitting crazy flow in my native language but he was also bringing insane new music to my ears. Drums samples that I grew up on fused with beautiful horn melodies and powerful female vocals laid on new school production beats, all this while downright schooling fans with Haitian history. As a Haitian this album brought me loads of pride and hope, but as a music lover I knew I had just heard a classic.
5 years later, Vox hits us with his new release ‘Dyaspoafriken’. His lyrics as razor sharp as before if not more to the point. If I may roughly translate the chorus to the opening track you clearly see that isn’t your beat-around-the-issue type of album ‘our culture threatened, our lives threatened, our history threatened we must to wake early to resist and not disappear like the indigenous’. Musically, the album takes us on the African diaspora world journey, where Vox managed to collaborate with artists from Mali, Brazil, the Caribbean and right back to Canada. A beautiful representation of all these cultures that reminds us that at source it is the same culture. One of my favourite tracks on the album is ‘Tout Moun’ where Vox Sambou collaborated with Kaytra Nada on a beat that you may have recognized as ‘Freaky Haitian Party’. Beyond the fact that I was so psyched to hear Vox’s flow on Kaytra’s sick AfroHaitian-Hop beat, this track is also the perfect illustration of how you keep a culture alive for generations to come: Respect and Innovation. As I mentioned earlier, Vox is also known for finding the most powerful female vocalists to hold down his pieces so I definitely have to highlight Malika Tirolien the lead female vocalist on this album. Easily the best female vocalist I’ve ever heard live and the without a doubt the perfect fit for this album. Yet another classic, thank you Vox Sambou.