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When I was junior in high school, a new hip hop album was released by a group called A Tribe Called Quest (ATCQ) entitled “People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm”.  My then boyfriend had bought the new ATCQ cassette tape and he dubbed it for me.  I loved that album so much that I played the tape over and over again until the audio started sounding funny.

They were part of a crew called the Native Tongues, who I was really feeling back then (and even still now).  The Native Tongues were a group of hip hop artist known for their positive-minded, good-natured Afrocentric lyrics.  They also pioneered the use of eclectic sampling and jazz-influenced beats. They were different and more fun than the standard hip hop groups up until that time. I felt that I could relate to them the most out of all the other hip hop groups/crews at the time.  They  were young, black and seemed to have fun together.  Their lyrics didn’t focus on the ill realities of the inner city and as a carefree high schooler, that was more my speed.  Relatability has always been important to me.  They even had female emcees in the crew — one of which grew up close to where I lived.

As I matured and started to identify more with my Haitian culture, I still loved hip hop but was very aware that Haitian-Americans were not represented in the genre – not publicly anyway.  I was a sophomore in college when I heard the first real Haitian hip-hop reference…and it came from none other than Phife Dawg, a member of a Tribe Called Quest.

It was one line,  but it was such a big deal for us fans who were Haitian.  He said “I love ’em black, yellow, Puerto Rican or Haitian, name is Phife Dawg from the Zulu Nation…”.  We were all so hyped to have been shout out by such an amazing, mainstream group.  Phife is Trinidadian, so he could have very well shout out his own country, or instead said “Jamaican” which was a more common Caribbean country that would also rhyme with “Nation”…but he didn’t; He said “Haitian”!!  I love how he SAW us..and loved us — so much so that he put it in his rhyme.  When people acknowledge you, you feel empowered.  Thanks to Phife, Haitians were no longer invisible in hip hop. That small gesture…to be seen, named, and publicly acknowledged was such huge deal to me.  My love for ATCQ was already deep, but it deepened after that.

I was saddened to learn that Malik Taylor, also known as Phife Dawg passed away recently.   I would have liked to thank him for that shout out.   I wonder if he knew how much we appreciated that line.

Electric Relaxation, A Tribe Called Quest

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TODAY! FRIDAY February 14th from 6pm to 8pm, Haitian All-StarZ Radio presents another installation of the monthly “Blague” segment featuring Cornbread and Cremasse’s own, Ingrid Austin Daniels discussing some recent blog topics.  Also featured tonight will be Nicole Cchaplin – Fitness Enthusiast, Author, Master Personal Trainer.  Nicole has appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America, CBS New York, Arise TV and highlighted on VH-1. She also has graced the pages of FitnessRx for Women as a model and writer and served as an 8-time feature model for Oxygen Magazine. She’s appeared on Madame Noire revealing to the audience the power of exercise, teaching readers her battle rope techniques on Healthy You and featured in the current issue of Heart & Soul Magazine. Sheen Magazine, New You, Jet Magazine also feature the fitness guru in the making and so will Women’s Health (March 2014).

Tune in from 6pm to 8pm at http://www.RADIOLILY.COM/ or http://tunein.com/radio/Radio-Lily-s176377/.  Download the FREE RADIO LILY app for your iPhone or Android and listen on your smartphone.  ~> | Kompa | Zouk | Rara + Culture + more | Log on and let us know you’re listening via text @ 347-450-9660.

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This blog post was written by Dine’ Stephen-Brandon

Being a first-generation American of Haitian descent, there are always some things that just do not translate across cultural lines.  There are some things that modern day Haitian parents have been forced to get accustomed to, for example, Hip Hop Music & Fashion.

In the Fall of 1991, I decided to join the first Sorority founded by African-Americans at Howard University in 1908, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc.  I was the first person to join a Sorority in my family and also the first to graduate from college.   I remember coming home to tell my mom the news and trying to describe to her what it was.  In my best creole, I explained that it was a sisterhood founded by Black women who are committed to the greater good of mankind through community service, etc.  Not sure if my mom ever fully understood what it was but, I remember she related it to something called “Cher Soeur”.  Up till now I have no Idea what a “Cher Soeur” is, but I figured “soeur” means sister so it must be something similar that they had in Haiti, perhaps something in the Catholic Church since my mom was a big time Catholic.

My mom fully supported my decision to join a Sorority, yet I still had to remind her what AKA was every time I wore my letters which I did very often in the early years.  Come to think of it, I had to explain many times to all my relatives who really took it as some sort of silly girl “clique”.  All I heard was, “Eh Keh Eh, kisa sa ye chhuuurrrrrrppp”

dineYoung AKA

At my wedding, my family watched in awe as my sorority sisters surrounded me to sing the hymn in the traditional way we do at all AKA weddings and were even more mesmerized when we broke out in the stroll that is also customary at sorority weddings.  This was unlike any of the stuffy Haitian weddings I recall going to back in the day.

dineSororityHymn

In 2008, I attended the Sorority’s 100th anniversary in Washington DC, an event that was broadcast heavily in the media.  Some members of my family did not seem to realize how large the sorority was or the many famous members we have until it was shown on CNN.

dineIvyLeaf

In 2009, I went to our Leadership Conference in New Orleans where my sorority also built a house for Habitat for Humanity in the region that was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.  This greatly impressed my family as Haitians are very familiar with natural disasters.

After the earthquake ravaged Haiti in 2010, the sorority solicited donations from all of the members and matched funds in order to assist. This is not always reported, but whenever there is a disaster all of the Greek-Letter organizations are always some of the first to assist.

Unfortunately, my Mom and Dad passed away a year apart, but the support I received from my Sorors was immeasurable.  My Sorors flooded the house with cards and plants and attended the services.  They also came to the house to show support.  My family was in awe of the fact that an organization that I joined back in college was still there supporting me so many years later and so was I.

I have remained active in my sorority throughout my adulthood and have only recently taken a step back after the birth of my second son, but whether near or far, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., will always remain in my heart.

I LOVE MY AKA!!!

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TODAY! FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 13th from 6pm to 8pm, Haitian All-StarZ Radio presents another installation of the monthly “Blague” segment featuring Cornbread and Cremasse’s own, Ingrid Austin Daniels discussing some of the blog topics that were featured on the blog this month (Remede Lakay, Parlez Vous Francais and Ti Nwa Ameriken).  Also on today’s show will be Constant of Haiti 155 discussing how they’re continuing to support relief efforts and the rebuilding of Haiti.

Tune in from 6pm to 8pm at http://www.RADIOLILY.COM/ or http://tunein.com/radio/Radio-Lily-s176377/.  Download the FREE RADIO LILY app for your iPhone or Android and listen on your smartphone.  ~> | Kompa | Zouk | Rara + Culture + more | Log on and let us know you’re listening via text @ 347-450-9660.

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Cornbread and Cremasse has teamed up with Haitian All-Starz Radio for a new monthly segment called “Blague” (pun intended).  Where we will discuss recent blog posts relating to the Haitian and Haitian-American culture.  “Blague” will be featured every 2nd Friday of the month, and the first installment is tonight!

Tune in to RadioLily.com to listen to Haitian All-StarZ Radio live TONIGHT from 6pm – 8pm. Ingrid will be on air with Hard Hitting Harry and the rest of the Haitian All-Star Team discussing the recent Cornbread and Cremasse blog post, “If I Wasn’t Haitian, I’d be Depressed” by Nadege Fleurimond.

The music is not to be missed either!  Be sure to tune in!

Again, here are the particulars:

RadioLily.com, Tonight, March 8th, 2013 from 6:00pm – 8:oopm.

Don’t miss it!

(For more information on Haitian All-Starz — check out the link on the left)

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There are certain songs that as soon as I hear them, I am transported back to my childhood.

If I had to create a soundtrack for my life the musical influences would run the gamut. There would be Pop ( Michael Jackson, Madonna, Prince), Rock(Bon Jovi, Springsteen, Aerosmith) , Hip-Hop (A Tribe Called Quest, De la Soul, Big Daddy Kane, Public Enemy), classical( Beethoven, Mozart, Chopin), and at the core Haitian music ( Tabou Combo, Skah Sha, Kassav, to name a few).

When I think of Haitian music, so many memories come flooding into my head. I think about the parties that I attended with my parents. I was just happy to be there because I got to stay up late and run around the hall with my cousins. We would sit and giggle at the grown-ups dancing to songs that seemed to last forever. An extra bonus would be if you got to see some grinding going on. The songs went on for what seemed like forever. You’d hear the horns, synthesizer, drums, and found yourself rocking to the beat. Once in awhile the dreaded might happen. An uncle, older male family friend , or worse someone YOUR age would ask you to dance. Your mom would cut you the evil eye and now you had no choice. You begrudgingly went, but spent the entire dance doing a side to side two step and swinging your arms side to side while all the while in a pair of uncomfortable shoes with lace socks.

When this song played, everyone was on the dance floor.

Then there are certain songs that remind me of my Dad specifically. My Dad would have friends over to play dominoes and would have “Tabou Combo” or “Kassav” playing in the background. The music would only be interrupted by the sounds of someone slamming down the winning game piece. I was often their gopher and again I didn’t mind because I got to stay up late once again.

This music is special to me, it defines a part of who I am. My parents aren’t taking me to parties anymore so the music nowadays just serves to transport me back to when I was young.

I still enjoy the music but if you asked me to rattle off the names of some current musicians, I’d be stuck at Wyclef. That’s a shame. I should do better. I will do better. I am going to need your help though. You have to promise to start thinking about your life and what songs/music would represent the various stages of your life. Once you’re done, I would love to hear about it.

Well, l have a start on this life soundtrack of mine. I thank my parents for helping it to be an eclectic mix.

Here’s your assignment for the week: Think about what music defines you? If you had to create a life soundtrack, what would it sound like? I look forward to hearing from you.

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