Mannigèt: Post-Quake Hip-Hop in Haiti

Amy Wilentz has posted this report on music in Haiti after the quake in the New Yorker blog. The link below will take you to the original report, where you can listen to two music tracks.

I spent sixteen days in Haiti this summer reporting my piece in this week’s magazine on the upcoming elections there. While visiting one of the new refugee camps across from the ruins of the national palace, I met Charles Pierre, whose street name is Samuel, and his friend Jerry, who are street rappers. They gave me a CD with a song of theirs (co-written by another friend, Veus Mathurin, who also lives in these camps) called “Mannigèt.”

Loosely translated from the Creole, the word mannigèt means manipulation, hypocrisy, lying, or magouille, which in turn means dirt, graft, falsehood, or blof, which means just what it sounds like. There are many words in Haitian Creole for fraud and deception.

The song is post-quake hip-hop. They wrote it about two months after the earthquake. To say that they wrote it is to say that they made it up: the lyrics have never been written down on paper because all of these musicians and lyricists are functionally illiterate. The song’s subject is untrustworthy politicians, priests, teachers, and doctors; hypocrisy, the whole post-quake Haitian scene. It’s a cri de coeur from what Wyclef Jean calls “the youth.”

Here are some of the lyrics of “Mannigèt”:

They don’t respect the rights of youth; leaders never think of the poor, they deform poor kids, they let them become prostitutes, some of us have to do drugs to get rid of our stress, and this is why the country cannot advance. But this complex must end. Here’s what kids are asking for: education, support, security. That’s how the country can end up with some change. We have to stop believing only in money and to recognize that we are all the same blood. The force is not elsewhere, it exists in our unity.

You can listen to two tracks at http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/newsdesk/2010/08/manniget-post-quake-hiphop-in-haiti.html#ixzz0y6D9MhBe

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