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Thursday, March 30, 2023

Dwindling record sales forces Zouk producers to call Konpa to the rescue

CSMS Magazine Staff Writers

 Last month, Christine Jean-Pierre wrote an article in which she tackled the new reality of Zouk becoming Konpa due to low Zouk sales. To our big surprise, a lot of readers reacted to it. Most of them praised it, for the article justified a phenomenon they have been noticing for quite some time. “Many of my friends seized to go to Zouk parties because they are more like a show (une kermesse) where you can only go and listen. You can’t dance the way Konpa can make you to,” said one reader from Marseille, France.            Some readers, however, did not take this assertion lightly. They claimed that Zouk is of a higher standard, and the musicians do respect the codes that rule danceable music. They don’t talk over it like Konpa musicians do.            In CSMS Magazine, we are not musicologists but we can observe trends of events. We write our articles based on facts, not on selfish feelings. We love Zouk just as we love Konpa and many other genres. But we cannot ignore the fact that Zouk is not what it used to be when Kassav and other bands dominated the Caribbean music chart. Then, the music was lively, upbeat and deliciously danceable. It was an exciting melody, sounding original with no deviation from the core, traditional Caribbean beat. Who can forget Zouk la se sel medikaman nou ni by the group Kassav?            By the late 1990s, Zouk was slowly changing, drifting away from its traditional beat and becoming slower with the introduction of Zouklove. The melody is sweet, but most of its songs were only good to listen to over a candlelight dinner in a Sunday afternoon.            An other factor that is contributing to the Zouk problem is its steady rapprochement with French chansonettes (traditional French songs). “Zouk music have become 80% French and 20% Creole. Most people don’t buy the records because they tell me they can’t identify with them,” said Yves Jules, a record storeowner in Orlando, Florida.            Konpa in the other hand continues to maintain its traditional rhythm—lovely, direct, and utterly danceable. You can always squeeze and feel the joy while moving to the awesome beat. Music lovers and partygoers have taken notes, and so did Zouk producers. Many of Zouk artists are literally playing Konpa—maybe out of necessity—to boost record sales. When the song is not entirely Konpa, the beat or the backbone is unequivocally so. Some observers are even talking about Konpa-Zouk as the new genre.            However lovely the new Konpa-Zouk phenomenon is, we believe that Zouk can still maintain its identity and reclaim its old fans if a correction is made in order to bring the music to its traditional beat. As a matter of fact, one Zouk band is showing the path. The group Face-à-Face considered to be the most prolific is original, pure and incredibly lovely. Although they have an equal number of French and Creole songs, the Zouk beat hols firm and deliciously intact.  Finally, music genres do and must evolve in order to meet the demands of new generations of music lovers. Konpa is not what it used to be 50 years ago. Over the years, more variances have developed. There is even a version called Konpa-Love symbolized by groups like Zin, Carimi, Kadans etc… However, one thing remains constant: the beat, which is easily recognizable. That is the path to follow. Remaining original and the fans will stick to your genre.Also see Zouk music producers have turned into Kompa to boost record sales

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