RootsWorld: Home Page Link RootsWorld: Home Page Link

Konpa Lakay
Lusafrica (

For a country that hardly seems able to catch an even break, Haiti makes some great music. And of course that music runs the gamut. Tabou Combo, arguably Haiti's most popular band, modernized African/Francophone/indigenous roots to a point of achieving international success but put off some traditionalists in the process, while artists like Boukman Eksperyans and Emeline Michel reined in the contemporary aspects of their sound enough to find the best of both worlds.

Then there's Boulpik, a sextet that for the last decade has been specializing in an acoustic version of the konpa dance music popular in Haiti since the 1950s. The back cover of their CD Konpa Lakay refers to their style as street music. I don't know if busking is their mainstay, let's just say it's easy to imagine these gents charming passersby in Port-au-Prince or just about anywhere else. Their instrumental lineup of dual banjos, marimbula bass and percussion makes for a loose, jaunty sound along the lines of Jamaican mento, with ever-present 3-2 clave patterns suggesting a bit of Cuban influence as well. But the rumble of the rhythms and the sweetening that the banjos and call-and-response vocals add to them are unmistakably Haitian.

The band brings both melancholy and humor to a dozen tunes, which vary from folksy originals composed by founder/chanteur Franckel Sifranc to a cover of Tabou Combo's title-referencing "Lakay" and even a Canadian ballad, "Je Reviens Chez Nous," that recalls happier times when Haiti's tourist industry was thriving. Some guest artists lay guitars, accordion and violin on a few tracks, though the only song that breaks the mold (and certainly not in a bad way) is "Neg Dafrik," where an electric guitar shimmers away in soukous-like style. Refreshing and heartfelt, the music of Boulpik is a shining example of Haiti's indomitable spirit and unassumingly bound to please. - Tom Orr


Looking for More Information?


return to rootsworld

© 2015 RootsWorld. No reproduction of any part of this page or its associated files is permitted without express written permission.


cd cover


Share on Facebook


RootsWorld depends on your support.
Contribute in any amount
and get our weekly e-newsletter.