Table of Content

  1. Konpa popularity outside Haiti

1. Konpa’s popularity outside Haiti

Konpa is the main music of many countries such as Dominica and the French Antilles. Whether it is called zouk where French Antilles artists of Martinique and Guadeloupe have taken it, or konpa in places where Haitian artists have toured, this modern méringue style is very influential in part of Caribbean, Cabo Verde, Guinea Bissau, Angola, and many others West African countries, France, part of Canada, South and North America. Today, konpa’s impact is far-reaching and felt all throughout both the Caribbean nations and the rest of the world [8].

Some kadans / cadence-lypso artists outside of Haiti to get started with:

  • Les Vikings de Guadeloupe (Pierre-Eduard Decimus was member of the band, who later co-founded the zouk band Kassav’),
  • Gordon Henderson’s band, Exile One (Dominica, cadence-lypso),
  • The Grammacks (Dominica, cadence-lypso),
  • Georges Plonquitte (Martinique),
  • La Perfecta (Martinique),
  • Les Aiglons
  • Jean-Philippe Marthely (konpa, zouk, member of Kassav)

Two of one of the best-known zouk and konpa producers with own labels are Ronald Rubinel (Martinique, 301 record credits according to Discogs) and Henry Debs (1932-2013, Guadelope, 832 (!) record credits according to Discogs). They released insane amount of quality records. The name of other producers should be researched too. For example: Jacky Nayaradou’s 3A Production label released 296 records, according to the Discogs database.

1.1. Selected konpa / kadans songs outside of Haiti:

Mainly from Martinique and Guadeloupe.

Protesta de la Martinique 972 – Liberte (konpa)

Puissance 8 de la Martinique – Paix Sur Terre

La Protesta de la Martinique – Fanatique Protesta

Magma de Martinique – Martinique Sensationell

Magma de Martinique – Tendresse

Selecta Martinique – Arletti

Galaxy – Ail Toyota La

Les Maxel’s de la Guadeloupe – Bon Courage

Les Maxel’s de la Guadeloupe – Kimbe Raid Pas Moli (1976)

Les Maxel’s de la Guadeloupe — La Tête Et Les Jambes (1979)

Les Maxel’s – Le Retour de Toto (kadans with some cadence-lypso influence)

Les Leopards de Martinique & Paulo Albin – Hypocrisie (1980)

Les Léopards de St. Pierre (featuring Jacky Nayaradou) – I.V.G. (original release: 1983, konpa)

Groupe E Plus (+) & Paulo Albin – Koud Main (1981)

Les Pedagogues – Mal Palant (1981, a rare song)

Ronald Rubinel & Operation 78 ft. Jean-Philippe Marthely – Mi Milo (1981)

Battery Cremil & Les Pedagogues – Assou-la-te (1984)

Jacky All Stars – Rete Gade Yo (1985, Martinique, with some zouk influence)

Compakolor / Ronald Rubinel – Medley

Vikings Guadeloupe – Contestation

Vikings 972 de la Martinique – Jacqueline (Copycat of Marina) (A copy cat song from Les Vikings de la Martinique in the style of Les Freres Dejean – from a comment)

La Rose Et Missile 727 – Mandela

Edith Lefel – Bonm’ saint doux (1996, mostly konpa)

The composer and the piano player was Ronald Rubinel. Members of the Les Frères Dejean Haitian konpa band are also contributors to this konpa song. Edith Lefel was the wife of Ronald Rubinel. Sadly, Edith passed away at the age of 39 in 2003 (she was born in 1963).

Les Maxel’s de la Guadeloupe – Bon Courage (konpa)
Puissance 8 du Martinique – Paix Sur Terre (konpa)
Les Maxels de la Guadeloupe – Kimbe Raid Pas Moli (kadans, 1976)
La Perfecta (Martinique) – A youskous (kadans)

1.2. Exile One – Cadence-lypso in Dominica

Caribbean genre created in the 1970s by Dominican musicians based in Guadeloupe by combining elements of Haiti’s kadans with Trinidad & Tobago’s calypso. Gordon Henderson’s Exile One band created Cadence-lypso. Another notable Dominican band is The Grammacks.

Cadence (but later) and calypso were the two dominant styles in Dominica hence the name cadence-lypso. According to a konpa dance school [18], the great majority of the songs of Exile One are either calypso, reggae and mostly kadans or konpas. Arguably, if there is any fusion it should not be significant enough to be listed on album or CD covers [18]:

It is not sure whether the band’s [Exile One] intent was to fusion Trinidadian calypso with Haitian cadence or compas since little was done. The song “La Dominique” in the Album “Exile One Old School Session” could be an attempt, however, not often repeated. The band music repertoire is mostly cadence or compas with all the features of the style.

It is likely that cadence-lypso is also a marketing term, used to promote Exile One’s newer sound. In a then saturated market, they needed to stick out from the other bands. Later, Kassav accomplished similar with the name zouk, which is of course a new genre.

However, Gordon Henderson clearly stated in the Facebook interview [25] (organized by University of Kizomba – the article will come soon) that his cadence-lypso is a new style where the band combined kadans with calypso (a fusion style). Lets accept his version because he is the musician and the founder of the style, not this particular dance school.

Exile One – Aki yaka (cadence-lypso)
Exile One – Rosita (on Barclay label, cadence-lypso)
Exile One – La Dominique (cadence-lypso)

Selected cadence-lypso songs

Liquid Ice – Leve Kadence (cadence-lypso band from Dominica)

Exile One – Rosita (cadence-lypso, 1976)

Protesta 77 de la Guadeloupe – Gacon (cadence-lypso)

Georges Plonquitte – Madam’ en moin laisse moin (cadence-lypso)

Georges Plonquitte – Rosalie (cadence-lypso)

The Grammacks – Cauchemar (1974-1976, cadence-lypso)

The Grammacks – La Vie Disco (cadence-lypso)

Les Vikings de la Guadeloupe – Dégagez (1977, cadence-lypso)

Les Vikings de la Guadeloupe – I love you (cadence-lypso)

Les Maxel’s de la Guadeloupe – Ti bêtes a maman (kadans / cadence-lypso)

Belles Combo (Dominica) – Simplify Yourself (1970’s, cadence-lypso)

Bill O Men – Cadence Nova & Enlightened (1979, cadence-lypso)

Exile House – Les Souriantes (1979, cadence-lypso)

Bill O Men – African Music (1978)

1.3. Konpa influence on coladeira in Cape Verde

There is a strong konpa influence in Cape Verdean music. During the 1960s-1980s Haitian artists and bands such as Claudette & Ti Pierre, Tabou Combo and especially Gesner Henry alias Coupe Cloue and the Dominican group Exile One were very popular in Africa. Cape Verdean artists have also been exposed to konpa in the U.S. and France [26].

In addition, the French Antilles Kassav and other French Antillean musicians, whose main music was zouk, toured the islands on various occasions.

Many Cape Verdean artists feature “light konpas”. Talented Tito Paris’ “Dança mami Criola” (1994), is a good example; this CD features music close to Haiti’s Tabou Combo, Caribbean Sextet, Exile One, Tropicana and the French Antilles’ Kassav’ [26].

Tito Paris – Dança ma mi criola

1.4. Influence in Angola

Angola has been receiving Haitian influence for years before zouk even existed. For instance, great meringue queen Haitian Martha Jean-Claude lent her voice and music to the Angolan revolution; she came with the Cuban troops (she was exiled from Haiti to Cuba) [27-28]. During the ’70s, Haitian bands and artists such as Coupe Cloue, Tabou Combo, Bossa Combo, DP Express and Dominican bands like Exile One and Grammacks were popular in Africa [18].

1.5. Zouk

Zouk will be discussed in detail in the Kassav article (under writing).

Pierre-Eduard Decimus left the Les Vikings de Guadeloupe kadans band to co-found Kassav in 1979, in Paris. Gordon Henderson’s cadence-lypso inspired French-Antillean musicians (Guadeloupeans and later Martiniqueans) to create something new, of their own, which eventually became zouk. Technological innovation also played a role in the birth of zouk.

Zouk is a fusion of different styles [29]:

If there ever was a Caribbean collaboration of culture, zouk-love music, otherwise known as simply zouk or (incorrectly) zouk béton, is it. The genre is a festive mix between the Dominican cadence-lypso and bélé, French Martinican beguine, gwo ka from Guadeloupe, and kadans ranpa from Haiti. Cadence-lypso provides much of the rhythmic and song structure to the music; bélé, beguine, and gwo ka inspired much of the instrumentation (particularly that of 21st century MIDI instruments and loops); and kadans ranpa gives the music the Haitian connection and flair.

Zouk was an attempt to develop a proper local music that would lessen or even eradicate the meringue-kadans or konpa influence from the French islands. When the MIDI technology came out, Kassav’ used it fully, creating new sound in both their fast carnival beat and konpa. The Antilleans were all over with zouk, but as other bands from the Caribbean and Africa added the MIDI technology to their music people got used to it. Because it was a jump up beat the fast zouk béton faded away in the same 1980s [29]:

Many people mistake the entire popular genre as being a truncated version of the sub-Caribbean zouk béton. This incorrectly-labeled music type was a brief spout of music created by French Antilles musicians, many of whom were versed in multi-cultural musical styles – a derivate. The structure was quick and heavily laden with MIDI instruments and sampling. Because it was a new and experimental sound, it became rapidly popular before abruptly fizzling out.

Despite the popular misconceptions, the medium tempo zouk came to being first, followed by the fast zouk of Kassav (zouk béton or zouk chiré), and finally zouk-love was created. This info is from the Manu Lima interview / article.

Sometimes it is hard to notice the (generally small) konpa ingredient in zouk, but you can clearly hear the konpa parts in the background in this zouk (zouk love) song:

Sandra Nanor, Darius Denon – Mon ange (zouk with konpa)

1.6. Twoubadou

It is a popular genre of guitar-based music from Haiti that has a long and important place in Haitian culture. The degraded name “twoubadou” actually comes from the word troubadour from Europe – these were mediaval-time love songs originally. (Interesting fact, „contradans” is also a degradation from „country dance” from which the Angolan circle dance, massemba / rebita drew some inspiration as well.)

Twoubadou was developed in the early 20th century. It combined music derived from the guajiro traditions of Cuba with a Haitian méringue. Twoubadou was brought back by Haitian migrant laborers who went to work as cutters on sugar plantations in Cuba who traveled back and forth to harvest the seasonal crop at the turn of the century [30]. It was easy since to travel since Cuba and Haiti is separated by 50 nautical miles, or 80 kilometres, of sea at the Windward Passage [31].

Perhaps the most famous contemporary component of the twoubadou style among popular entertainers in the latter twentieth century was Jean-Gesner Henry, better known as Coupé Cloué was renowned for his sexually suggestive lyrics [30].

Coupé Cloué – Mon Konpé / Ti Bom

Selected Twoubadou songs

In Haiti

Coupé Cloué – Mon Konpè / Ti Bom (twoubadou)

Coupé Cloué – Myan Myan

Orchestre Meridional des Cayes – Pitie Pou Fem

Outside of Haiti

It is no wonder I featured here 2 songs of Franky Vincent from Guadeloupe (Fruit De La Passion is his very popular zouk song). He was member of Tabou No.2 konpa band. These are twoubadou songs:

Francky Vincent with Tabou No.2 – La Vie En Rose 2 (1979, Guadeloupe)

FRANCKY VINCENT with Tabou n°2 – La Braguette D’Or (1978, Guadeloupe, label: 3A Production)

1.7. Gouyad (Warning: this is NOT konpa!)

This new genre emerged after the Millennium as a result of the gradual degradation of konpa. The 3rd generation of Haitians created gouyad in the USA. Their mainstream music is computer-generated with R’n’B influence, a synth, and a little leftover from konpa. It is kind of similar to ghetto zouk (ghetto zouk was created in Holland by the 2nd generation of Cape Verdian emigrants).

These kids have lost their strong cultural ties to Haiti, and it is mainly a western music genre. Most people fooled by ignorant dance schools teachers think that gouyad is konpa. Which is false!

The origin of the word gouyad: The national dance meringue incorporated an emphasis on the gentle rolling of the hips seen in many Caribbean dances. In Haiti, this movement is sometimes called gouyad (verb from the French gouye, from the French grouiller, to move or stir) or mabouya, the name of the largest lizard (a gecko species) on the island [32-33]. It is similar to tarraxinha movements (even the verb attarraxar means to screw, to stir).

Dj Keishawn x Kayos – Say My Name

Klik Kompa – Prie’m (late konpa in transitional phase into gouyad)

Djous – Piyay La Fini (2001, US, late konpa in transitional phase into gouyad)


Konpa from Haiti

  1. Gemini All Stars de Ti Manno – Mariage d’intérets
  2. Ti Manno – Souvenir
  3. Tabou Combo – Papillon vole
  4. Tabou Combo – New York City (live)
  5. Tabou Combo – New York City
  6. Tabou Combo – Tu as volé
  7. Les Shleu Shleu – Ce La Ou Ye
  8. Les Shleu Shleu – Moun Damou
  9. Les Shleu Shleu – Solange
  10. Les Gypsies de Petion-Ville – Pacole
  11. Les Gypsies de Pétion-Ville – Patience
  12. Les Gypsies de Petion-Ville – Courage
  13. Les Gypsies de Petion-Ville – La Tulipe
  14. Les Difficiles de Pétion-Ville – Mesdames Yo
  15. Les Difficiles de Petion-Ville – Espoir (1984)
  16. D.P. Express – Pran Plesi Nou
  17. DP Express – Carnaval Souke Ko Ou (very fast)
  18. Les Ambassadors – Moin Revive (Apye Nou Ye)
  19. Skah Skah #1 – Le Vie-a Belle (Carnival)
  20. Skah Shah D’Haiti #1 Plus – Colombus (1981)
  21. Skah Shah #1 Plus D’Haiti & Joseph “Blagueur” Laine – Skah Shah #1 Plus
  22. Les Chômeurs D’Haiti – Telephone (1975)
  23. Dixie Band – Lolita
  24. Mini All Stars – Patience (rework of Les Gypsies – Patience)
  25. Super Combo – Moin domi dérho
  26. Bossa Combo – Permanente
  27. Djet-X – Egal-Ego
  28. Top Vice – Sinfoni Damou
  29. Top Vice – Vole Lanmou #2
  30. Scorpio Universel – Compas universel
  31. Digital Express – Travay
  32. System Band – Rencontre Inoubliable
  33. Volo Volo – Amour volo
  34. Magnum Band – Adoration
  35. Les Loups Noirs – La Sirène
  36. Djakout Mizik – Septième ciel
  37. Djakout Mizik – Ma Seule Folie
  38. Shoogar Combo – Lèlène Chérie
  39. Magic Connection Music Stars – Zanmi (1984)
  40. C.C. All Stars – Vire Bo Kai
  41. Les Consuls d’Haiti – Belle Sirene (1974)
  42. Les Ambassadeurs D’Haiti – Piro (1977)
  43. Les Ambassadeurs D’Haiti – Regrets
  44. Les Vikings d’Haiti – Choc Vikings
  45. Compas Express – Vie Musicien
  46. Les Frères Dejean – First Class
  47. Les Frères Déjean – L’univers

Rare and unique Haitian songs

Credits: A lot of thanks to E4Mizik’s YouTube channel for collecting a lot of these old and rare songs from Haiti:

The Cuban influence on Haiti’s music was strong: danzón, son, cha cha chá, bolero, etc. was definitely known in Haiti.

Super Ensemble Webert Sicot – Club Des Quatres (1968, cha-cha-chá kadans ranpa)

Raoul Guillaumme & Son Orchestre – Yoyo & Pese Cafe (the first song is son, the second is méringue)

Guy Durosier – live @ Carnegie Hall – Pitit Yon Zanimo & A 16 Ans

Guy Durosier – Mathilda (méringue)

Orchestre Septentrional d’Haiti – 1er Janvier (méringue with danzón)

Les Vikings D’Haiti – Dansez (1973, konpa with danzón)

Webert Sicot – Deux Guidons (kadans ranpa)

Webert Sicot – Ti Mal (kadans ranpa)

Super Ensemble Webert Sicot – Moin Pap’ Ca Marie Ave’Ou

Webert Sicot & Le Thoray All Stars – Ogou Badagris

Webert Sicot – Desde Panama

Webert Sicot – Minouche

Webert Sicot – Gina (cadence rampa, but has a synth in it that cadence-lypso uses, starting from 01:15)

Webert Sicot – Just for you. – Jazz in Haitian interpretation. He dedicated this song to his wife and children.

Issa El Saieh – La Sirene, La Baleine (méringue)

Issa EL Saïeh and his Orchestra – RELE’M (1960s) (meringue)

Issa El Saieh Orchestra & Herby Widmaier – Woman In Love (1956)

Les Diplomates – Simbi (196X)

Meridional des Cayes – Sam Fè yo

Les Freres Dejean – Concerto Pour Un Coeur (1974)

Joe Jack Recontre Fedia Laguerre – Realite (1983, it is a duet song)

Experience 7 – Isabelle (1978)

Rodrigue Milien – Necessité (bolero, there is a bachata rework of this song by Bachata Haiti)

Réginald Policard – Diane (mainly bossa nova)

Voodoo Drums – Contradanse Avant Simple and Meringue with Flute

Meringue – Jean Léon Destiné et sa troupe

Super Jazz des Jeunes – Denise

Super Jazz des Jeunes – Vacances (1962)

Super Jazz des Jeunes – Tout Moun Dou (Haiti 1963)

Super Jazz des Jeunes – J’ai Péché (1962)

Super Jazz des Jeunes – Bonne Année

Gérard Dupervil – Choubouloute (he was member of Super Jazz des Jeunes and one of Webert Sicot’s music teacher)

Gérard Dupervil – Fleur de Mai











[10] Adrien B. Berthaud – Nemours Jean Baptiste L’architecte du Rythme Compas Direct

[11] Adrien B. Berthaud – Webert Sicot

[12] David Horn, John Shepherd (eds.) 2014. Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World, Volume 9: Genres: Caribbean and Latin America. Bloomsbury Publishing, London. pp. 69.

[13] (click on “about us” at the footer – a popup will appear with the information about Adrien B. Berthaud)























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