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The 2009 Master Dji Award Event.

Photos by Francois Adrien and Manny Ardouin

"More than an Artist, It took a Master's Touch"

The first half of the eighties in Haiti was peculiarly characterized by a cataclysm of unprecedented voices and talents both national and international that was widely and hastily spread throughout the radio station in Haiti; subsequently, these cherished virtuosi infiltrated in almost every facets of the Haitian society. On the national level, the Island was being seduced by the charming voice of the multi talented Ansy Derose, the singular voice of Leon Dimanche, the tropical Christmas lyrics of Lionel Bejamin. It was during this flourishing season that the names and music of Boulot Valcourt, Herold Christophe, Joel Theodore, Ti Corn, and Carole Demesmin claimed their authenticity and catered to a broader and more sophisticated audience. These artists had the obligation to meet the expectations of a very reserve audience that was fixated on the traditional French love ballads and intellectually savvy lyrics of Michel Sardou, Charles Aznavour, Georges Mustaki, Frederic Mey, Nana Mouskouri, Mireille Mathieu, Claude Barzotti, and Jean Ferat, to name a few. Radio hosts throughout the capital did not and would not risk flirting with any unorthodox genre of music that would drift the attention of their conservative/demanding audience elsewhere.

It was during that time of artistic and cultural intolerance this odd genius; a mutt virtuoso would erect out of nowhere and pioneer a movement that would later be called "the Creole hip-hop movement". Yes, I'm talking about the Father of the Creole Hip Hop movement, George Lys Herard (AKA) Master Dji. Breaking through the walls of the caprices, the social prejudices and schemas of that time was only the tip of the iceberg for Master Dji. Many in Haiti held a scornful view of this genre of music because of the unorthodox attributes of the hip hop culture, especially its fashion and the way of life of those who embraced it. Not only did Master Dji impose this new resented genre on the Haitian society, but he also had to struggle with the public in order for them to be more tolerant of Creole hip hop. It is consequently with all due respect that he is called and remained the Father of the Creole hip hop movement.

Master Dji didn't only carve his name in the cultural anal of the country as a rapper, but he also carried many different hats. Next to Ralph Boncy and Raphael Fequiere, he was one of the visionaries of the Tap Tap magazine. He later became a collaborator for RFI (Radio France Internationale), the CJFM of Japon, Radio Africa and Radio Nova. He was only sixteen years old when he debuted as a radio show host on radio Port Au Prince. He hosted and co hosted many radio shows in his homeland such as "Rap Nation, Tropical Jungle" on tropic FM with Nancy Rock and Frederic Surpris (Tambour Frappes, Haitien Campes, 2001).
He knew just how to grab the youth attention at the time and delivered his message. He was a profound lyricist who didn't spare the corrupted régimes of his country his whip. The youth upheld him in high esteem. Many of his events were packed with thousands of people. He is one the first artist whose music has crossed over, especially in Europe and Africa. Although the Haitian market was not favorable toward this style of music, he vigorously and intellectually wrestled with the polluted mentality of the time and released the following albums: Master Dji, Politik Pam, Haiti Rap' N Ragga, Match La Red, and Maximum Respect (Wikipedia, 11/08).
The Father of Creole Hip Hop passed away on May 21, 1994; nine days prior to his 33rd birthday, but his death didn't silence his voice. His music continues to echo in many places in the world, his legacy remains untarnished, and his accomplishments unprecedented. Master Dji epidemises tenacity, courage and hope for his entire generation.


"More than an Artist, It took a Master's Touch"

Jesler Mezidor
For Pikliz.com
02/02/09

Slideshow
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Pasha Brandt
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Mr Erol Josue
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Mr Stanley Leconte with Ameriprise Financial Services is ready to talk to the audience.
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Mr Stanley Leconte with Ameriprise F…
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