Freshla stands in front of a mural he commissioned in Delmas 5, Haiti.
There’s a musician in Haiti who’s making a bit of history. His name is Freshla (real name Donald Joseph) and he’s one of the most popular producers and musicians in Haiti right now.
This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.
And if that’s not enough, Freshla’s a player on the political scene as well as, especially as the the island nation looks ahead to this weekend’s Parlimentary elections.
Freshla’s making waves with hit songs like “Kite Ti Pati’m Kanpe.”
Reporter Susana Ferreira, who wrote about Freshla in a recent article for BuzzFeed, says the song has several meanings. “It could mean let my little party stand. Or leave my piece alone, as in my piece of the pie. Or it could also refer to male genitalia.”
Freshla fronts the band Vwadèzil. He’s also known as the King of Rabòday.
Rabòday is an updated, musical genre in Haiti he created with the help of producer G-Dolph. Ferreira says it’s electronic dance music with elements of “vodou music and rah-rah, which is a form of music that’s played out in the streets.”
But, Ferreira adds that rabòday is a “contentious.” The younger generation loves the music. Especially the beats. However, it’s the lyrics that cause debate among everyone else.
“There are songs that document what’s happening in the country … sometimes they call people out on their bad social behavior or political behavior.” And sometimes, Ferreira admits, the lyrics can be “denigrating to women.”
Interestingly, it’s Freshla’s popularity and the political context of his songs that has candidates fighting for his support. Candidates have been courting Freshla for months. They want him to campaign and perhaps even do musical spots on the radio for them. For his part, Freshla has shown support for some.
For the moment though, Freshla has no desire to seek a political post himself. Instead he’s “made a conscious decision to play this particular role … to document what’s happening (in his coutnry) and to encourage people to make better choices in who they vote for.”
Freshla’s most recent song is called “Les Peta d’Or.” In it he takes on inflation and elections … and, as you might guess, there are numerous meanings.
Is it about golden fireworks? Or well, les Peta in French, means to pass gas.