Lakou Mizik Build Bridges Across a Region in Diaspora with the Stunning 'HaitiaNola'

Photo courtesy of Cumbancha via Bandcamp

Haitian group Lakou Mizik team up with a slew of prominent New Orleans artists to bring together these two geographic points in brilliant chorus on HaitiaNola.

Lakou Mizik


25 October 2019

Few distinct locales in the Americas better epitomize the fraught concept of cultural diversity than Haiti and New Orleans. Both are part of the broader Caribbean region, with corresponding histories of ferocious socioeconomic inequities, often linked to race and colonialism. Both are particularly vulnerable to natural disasters; their environmental problems increased by the aforementioned inequities. Both, though, are places where music is key to scenes of expressive culture, and on HaitiaNola, Haitian group Lakou Mizik - formed in the wake of the 2010 earthquake - teams up with a slew of prominent New Orleanian artists to bring together these two geographic points in brilliant chorus.

A wide range of superstars makes up the list of guest artists on HaitiaNola. The Preservation Hall Band, Trombone Shorty, Tarriona "Tank" Ball, Leyla McCalla, and Cyril Neville are just a few of the big names in the mix with the core Lakou Mizik crew, including roots pioneer Sanba Zao, second-generation popular musician Steeve Valcourt, singers Jonas Attis and Nadine Remy, bassist Junior Lamar, rara players Tipiti and James Carrier, and accordionist Beniste Belony, along with chorus members Saïda Bellamour and Samuel Priviose. It's a lineup that speaks for itself. Lakou Mizik is made up of standard-bearers of the racine roots music scene, and delves deep into history and spirituality - Vodou themes feature heavily - but continue to innovate here, continuing to march toward an increasingly connected future.

With such pedigrees and musical histories in the mix, it comes as no surprise that the music on HaitiaNola is a joy to experience. Tropical sounds of the Afro-Caribbean mesh beautifully with brassy bombast as the Preservation Hall Jazz Band parades alongside Lakou Mizik on opening track "Renmen", and "Pistach Griye" is bright, breezy, and graced with Trombone Shorty's signature slides. Remy opens "La Fanmi" as a graceful, sparkling serenade with keys courtesy of Jon Cleary; it picks up gentle speed but remains angelic from start to finish. Tank of Tank and the Bangas adds her own warm, soulful brand of spoken word to "Kay Granpa".

And so the celebrations continue, a constant kaleidoscope of sounds and moods. At the album's midpoint is "Iko Kreyòl", a particular highlight in terms of both catchiness and collaboration as Arcade Fire's Win Butler and Régine Chassagne, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, and 79ers Gang join the band in evocations of Mardi Gras, Carnival, and their proposed Haiti-NOLA bond. Steel drums, horns, and metallic percussions come together in a vibrant sea of sound over relatively subtle, bass-heavy synths; featured solo vocalists and a strong chorus make for sunny verses.

Not to say that any one track is the be-all or end-all of the album. Lakou Mizik and their New Orleanian friends make a concerted effort to keep their music fresh throughout the album, drawing on just some of the many styles of music to be found in their respective home regions. Sometimes, this manifests in pensive strings. "Rasanbleman" features New Orleans-based Haitian-American cellist and singer-songwriter Leyla McCalla adding notes of melancholy to a powerful anthem of group solidarity. In other cases, it goes into full, driving rock, as in the hard-edged, reggae-tinged final track "Mizik Sa Yo" with King James. In any and every case, Lakou Mizik continue to build bridges across a region in diaspora, uniting representatives of music scenes separated by a sea, but united by similar experiences and overlapping histories.





90 Years on 'Olivia' Remains a Classic of Lesbian Literature

It's good that we have our happy LGBTQ stories today, but it's also important to appreciate and understand the daunting depths of feeling that a love repressed can produce. In Dorothy Strachey's case, it produced the masterful Olivia.


Indie Rocker Alpha Cat Presents 'Live at Vox Pop' (album stream)

A raw live set from Brooklyn in the summer of 2005 found Alpha Cat returning to the stage after personal tumult. Sales benefit organizations seeking to end discrimination toward those seeking help with mental health issues.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

A Lesson from the Avengers for Our Time of COVID-19

Whereas the heroes in Avengers: Endgame stew for five years, our grief has barely taken us to the after-credit sequence. Someone page Captain Marvel, please.


Between the Grooves of Nirvana's 'Nevermind'

Our writers undertake a track-by-track analysis of the most celebrated album of the 1990s: Nirvana's Nevermind. From the surprise hit that brought grunge to the masses, to the hidden cacophonous noise-fest that may not even be on your copy of the record, it's all here.


Deeper Graves Arrives via 'Open Roads' (album stream)

Chrome Waves, ex-Nachtmystium man Jeff Wilson offers up solo debut, Open Roads, featuring dark and remarkable sounds in tune with Sisters of Mercy and Bauhaus.

Featured: Top of Home Page

The 50 Best Albums of 2020 So Far

Even in the coronavirus-shortened record release schedule of 2020, the year has offered a mountainous feast of sublime music. The 50 best albums of 2020 so far are an eclectic and increasingly "woke" bunch.


First Tragedy, Then Farce, Then What?

Riffing off Marx's riff on Hegel on history, art historian and critic Hal Foster contemplates political culture and cultural politics in the age of Donald Trump in What Comes After Farce?


HAIM Create Their Best Album with 'Women in Music Pt. III'

On Women in Music Pt. III, HAIM are done pretending and ready to be themselves. By learning to embrace the power in their weakest points, the group have created their best work to date.


Amnesia Scanner's 'Tearless' Aesthetically Maps the Failing Anthropocene

Amnesia Scanner's Tearless aesthetically maps the failing Anthropocene through its globally connected features and experimental mesh of deconstructed club, reggaeton, and metalcore.


How Lasting Is the Legacy of the Live 8 Charity Concert?

A voyage to the bottom of a T-shirt drawer prompts a look back at a major event in the history of celebrity charity concerts, 2005's Live 8, Philadelphia.


Jessie Ware Embraces Her Club Culture Roots on Rapturous 'What's Your Pleasure?'

British diva Jessie Ware cooks up a glittery collection of hedonistic disco tracks and delivers one of the year's best records with What's Your Pleasure.


Paul Weller Dazzles with the Psychedelic and Soulful 'On Sunset'

Paul Weller's On Sunset continues his recent streak of experimental yet tuneful masterworks. More than 40 years into his musical career, Weller sounds as fresh and inspired as ever.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.