Album Review: Belo, Natif Natal

Written by kreyolicious with 3 Comments

Belo Album art 3
If there’s something that’s better than a cluster of fab grooves, it’s a collection of fab grooves tied to some thought-provoking storytelling, and that’s precisely what singer songwriter Belo’s album Natif Natal sums up to. The 13-track album (there are three interludes) starts off with “Detripay”, a song so telling of Haiti’s streets, it’s probable that the narrator is probably standing on the tip of one of those purple-blue-brown mountains with a pair of binoculars, observing the world below. Recounting all that he sees to us, he mentions:

Kloutoup, kloutap, miwo miba
Kopi, klopan, nou tèt anba
Ap tatonnen je nan fè nwa
Nap moute mònn sou janm debwa

Click clacking, uneven
Click, clacking–we’re all topsy-turvy
Squinting in the dark
Climbing mountains with clutches too big

Rèv depaman, twòkèt malè…

Mismatching dreams, terror cushions

Poto san fil, jwenn madigra…
Li pa nòmal, men ni nòmal

Street poles with no wires, meet with clowns
It ain’t right, it just ain’t right

Tifi douzan kap kap fè totwa
Anfans yo make avè koutba
Yon ti flè’k pandye nan kochma
Kap bouske lavi nan fatra
Timoun kap drive nan lari
Kòk poko menm fini grandi
Kap vann plezi
Pran maladi

12-year old girls working the sidewalk
Their childhoods scarred by heartbreak
Little flowers dangling in a nightmare
They’re looking for a way out in a landfill
Young boys not even past adolescence
And they’re selling themselves
Getting infected with STDs

Kase lèzo anba galri
Fòn ta ekri nan istwa
Doulè nan ren mache anba
Inosans vann nan bak lavil
Parèt riban, ou koupe fil

Break bones on front porches
Somebody please record all of this
Little pains that go deep
Innocence sold behind street stands
Little ribbons, get cut to shreds

Yes, it’s indeed a sad state of affairs. He goes on:

Gen dezòd nan lakou a
Pwoblèm nan lakou’m nan
Mezanmi li pa nòmal

It’s a hot mess in the community
There’s problems out here
Folks, this ain’t right

There’s a violin on “Detripay”; the melody sounds like a luxurious lullaby, but the story is far from what a mother tucking in her child would sing. “Detripay” sets the tone of the entire album: blunt but not cynical; truth-telling without despair.

From there, the singer takes us to another scene, with “Vann Dlo”—Sell Water. A family man sells water on the streets. It’s no coincidence that he’s selling water of all things. Water has always symbolized purity, purification, restoration…rehabilitation. He wants to maintain his dignity.

While he’s walking (on foot no doubt), he sees other compatriots who have sold out their integrity. But he’s determined to keep his eyes on the prize. As he tells it:

M’pap rantre nan move zafè
Menm si se vre lavi di

I’m not about to do anything shady
Even if life ain’t that sweet

M’ta renmen woule yon bèl auto
Men sepandan mwen poko—m’poko kapab
Map fè tout sa mwen konnen
Po yo ka miyò demen
M’pito mache nan solèy cho
Pou mwen fè edikasyon timoun yo avan’m male

I’d love to get me a nice whip
But I can’t afford it just yet
I’m doing all that I can
So that they can have a better future…
I’d rather sell water
I’d rather walk under this hot sun
I have to educate my kids before I take my last breath

Mwen oblije satiyèt lari a
Gen de jou mwen pa gen kòb taksi ya…
Men mwen pa gen le chwa

So, I deal with life
Somedays, I don’t even have my taxi fare
But I don’t have a choice

“Vann Dlo” is about rejecting materialism and easy riches in return for lasting success and hard work. Maintaining one’s virtue and respectability and showing genuine disdain for all things that can threaten one’s honor.

“Groovy”, “Ti Nonm”, “Mizik A Duam” keep with the album’s overall theme of enduring for the sake of tomorrow. “Ban Nouvèl Ou” (So, How Are You?) isn’t about saying a simple hello to someone. It’s not a half-hearted greeting or something said just out of auto-pilot courtesy. It’s about truly caring for another human being—their dreams, their hopes, and their concerns. We can say, “Hello” to a person everyday, and not know what’s truly going on within their soul, what irks them, what drives them, and most importantly of all, what terrorizes them.

When the man who’s hustling water has harder times than usual, it’s time for him to be told, “Pa Lage”—don’t give up.

Pa koute moun ki di ou pa anyen
Paske ou se malere…
Solèy Bondye klere pou tout moun-o
Fò’w pa lage
Menm si devan’w tout moun bare ou
Pa kite moun trete ou diferan paske ou pa gen yo dola
Pa bliye lafwa’w
Respè ak dignite’w
Pi sipiryè pase milyon dola
Se zam pou ou goumen avèk lavi-a

Dem folks that tell you you ain’t nothing
Don’t pay ’em no mind
God made the sun shine on everyone, or nah?
Don’t give up now
Even if people try to block your path to success
Hang in there
Don’t let folks treat you no different
Just ’cause your pockets ain’t full of dollars
Dignity and self-respect are worth more than a milli
Don’t forget that faith
Is the weapon that’ll help you fight your way through life

Was surprised to see an English language song sandwiched among the other tracks. Entitled “Citizen of the World”, the song preaches how all of us humans are connected through one umbilical cord: “One big ocean in motion/one vibration/one silhouette”. Sorta like Lennon’s “Imagine”, and Jackson and Richie’s “We Are the World”.

It’s always good to hear a love song that’s cut from a different cloth, as “Abondans” is (the singer’s partner on the song is a singer named Queen Bee). It’s not one of those songs that seem to have been cut to serve as background music for a fairy tale. Two people are in a relationship and they’re getting older. The pair has been through some rough patches. It sounds like one of those on-and-off relationships.

Mwen pa pare pou mwen ale pou yon jounen
Paske mwen renmen ou
Mwen renmen ou an abondans

I’m not ready to let you go
Not even for one day
Cause I love you
I love you dearly

But how does she feel?

Jodi-a mwen revòlte
Mwen pa pare pou mwen rete pou menm yon jounen
Mwen renmen ou pwofondeman
Malgre mwen renmen ou

Mwen pa ka rekomanse ankò
Mwen pito viv lwen ou

Today, things are achanging
I’m not about to stay
Not even for another day
I love you, dearly
Can’t start over again
I’d rather we stay at a distance

Belo Album Art


That’s what’s maturity, folks. Recognizing that in some cases that no love is better than toxic love. And she mentions “mizè”! Mizè…misery…trials and tribulations. This could be about domestic violence. Yeah, it probably is, especially when in the next line, she uses a word as strong as “revòlte”…revolt. One has to be treated in a demeaning, de-humanizing way to spur a revolt. The most likely scenario: Brute beats up woman, claims to love her. She keeps going back to him, and out of nowhere she realizes that she’s just going in for encore performances, and ends it once and for all. Good for you, milady!

“Kase Ti Bwa”, placed earlier in the sequence of the album, is more hopeful than “Abondans”, but the reggae-and-jazz binded melody sounds like a funeral hymn. The song chronicles a childhood flirtation that grows into a deeper love, but not without some heartaches and unsettling moments.

Got to hand it to this singer. He sure knows how to pick his duet partners. On “Pa Lage Sa”, his musical comrade is a folksy-sounding singer named Mandela. They have the same reggae griot kind of vibe, but their style is different enough that you can clearly discern who’s who. Belo also does duets with two other male singers, a Eddy Francois (“Pa Koute Yo”—Don’t Pay Them No Mind) and B.I.C (“Kase Ti Bwa”). Honestly, it’s rare to see male duets work in some musical genres (excluding rap), but these gentlemen aligned their voices effectively.

With “Ekoloji”, I was expecting a verbal epistle about everything that’s wrong with the environment, but the song turned out to be pretty tame—although the hush-shush chorus by the singer Queen Bee was pleasant to listen to.

Natif Natal (Native Son) is one of those albums that you’ll either have on perpetual replay or play for a day and put it away…not because it’s not a great album, but because the truths in the lyrics of songs like “Detripay” are much too difficult to bear, too painful to fathom, too heart-shredding to picture. A father putting his children through school by selling water; street kids selling their bodies to survive; women who love in abundance, but who have to forget about their feelings and run…once you start pondering on those depictions…it’s like reading headlines about Haiti, but at least in the singer Belo’s musical version of things, there’s some sort of balance in the reporting, and there’s more than enough hope.

Show your support for this artist. CLICK HERE to purchase Natif Natal on iTunes | Check out Natif Natal from BelO on Souncloud | Belo’s Website | Belo on Twitter |CD Baby Artist Page

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3 comments on “Album Review: Belo, Natif Natal

  1. Detripay (Gutted)

    Click, clack; click, clack… uneven gait
    clip, clop; clip, clop… we’re upside down
    Feeling our way through dark ages
    we’re climbing hills on wooden stilts.

    We’re inside out, awkward, backward
    mismatched nightmares scarfed with despair
    Newborns, old souls, cribs turned to graves
    our hope seem dead, this game is rigged.
    A drop of booze, we’re all joking
    while this nation is decaying
    Sadly, madness becomes the norm
    when pain parades in Mardi Gras.

    It’s abnormal, but, new normal
    every mask goes, it’s carnival
    Rape, violence, abuse and sorrow
    staining the dream of tomorrow.

    Click, clack; click, clack… a shambling gait
    clip, clop; clip, clop… we’re upside down
    Feeling our way through dark ages
    we’re climbing hills on wooden stilts.

    Twelve year old girls walking the streets
    their childhoods scarred by wicked deals
    Like flower’s bud, withered and crushed
    hustling, shuffling through trash filled life.
    Their bodies sketched on moonlit roads
    broken and torn, they will not bloom
    Selling pleasure, catching disease
    and giving birth on front porches.

    Poets, historians jot this down
    lest we forget this black market
    Innocence sold on shameful stalls
    barrettes, ribbons or ragged dolls.

    Look at the mess in our Country
    dear friends, my friends, it’s not normal
    Look at the issues in our homeland
    dear friends, my friends, it’s not normal.

    Look at the mess in our native land
    dear friends, my friends, it’s not normal
    Look at the issues in my backyard
    told you my friends, it’s not normal.

    It’s not normal (eight times)

    But, the problems are here
    They’re here (three times)

    Those problems tie us down
    Those problems are really a shame
    We are crippled from the inside.

    Lyrics: Jean Winer PASCAL
    Music and lyrics: Jean Bélony MURAT (BélO)
    Translation into English: Jean Winer PASCAL and Gilberte PASCAL

  2. Détripay

    Kloutoup kloutap, miwo miba
    klopi klopan, nou tèt anba
    N-ap tatonnen, jé-n nan fè nwa
    n-ap monté mònn sou janm dé bwa.

    Lanvè landrèt, douvan dèyè
    rèv dépaman, twòkèt malè
    Kazak ranyon, karako sal
    kòlèt débrayé jwèt bosal.
    Oun gout kléren, nou an zig zag
    la vi oun pèp tounen youn blag
    Vètij grenpé tèt Maryéla
    Poto San Fil jwenn madigra.

    Li anòmal, men li nòmal
    youn lamayòt nan kanaval
    Oun Ka dé Jak s-oun-w popé twal
    oun pidétwal nan plas zètwal.

    Kloutoup kloutap, miwo miba
    klopi klopan, nou tèt anba
    N-ap tatonnen, jé-n nan fè nwa
    n-ap monté mònn sou janm dé bwa.

    Ti fi douzan k-ap fè twotwa
    anfans yo maké ak kout ba
    Youn ti flè-k pandyé nan kochma
    k-ap bouské la vi nan fatra.
    Ti moun k-ap drivé nan la ri
    oun kò-k poko menm finn grandi
    K-ap vann plézi, pran maladi
    Kasé lèzo anba galri.

    Fò-n ta ékri sa nan listwa
    doulè-k nan ren Maché AnBa
    Inosans vann nan bak la vil
    barèt, riban ou poupé fil.

    Gadé dézòd nan lakou-a
    mézanmi l-pa nòmal
    Pwoblèm nan lakou-a
    mézanmi l-pa nòmal.

    Gadé dézòd nan lakou-a
    mézanmi l-pa nòmal
    Pwoblèm nan lakou-m nan
    mézanmi l-pa nòmal.

    Li pa nòmal (8 fwa)

    Men pwoblèm yo la
    Yo la (3 fwa)

    Pwoblèm yo mare pyé-n
    Pwoblèm yo anpétré-n

    Lyrics: Jean winer PASCAL
    Music and lyrics: Jean Bélony MURAT (BélO)
    Album BélO: Natiaf Natal, April 2014

  3. Citizen of the world

    I’m a citizen of the world.
    Yeah, I’m a citizen of the world.

    Flying across the globe today
    in my dream try to find my way
    Across the seas, above the land
    make sense of it and understand.

    Europe, Asia, Africa
    Antarctica, North America
    Australia, South America
    Arctic, Polar, where’s the mecca?

    It’s just one sky
    hard to deny
    One horizon
    one location.
    One big ocean
    waves in motion
    The wind rotation
    one vibration.

    I’m a citizen of the world.

    Taking a stroll among nations
    going beyond limitations
    Isolation, separation
    crossing the lines of probation.

    London, Paris and Montreal
    watch the borders and limits fall
    Rio, Melbourne, Monte Carlo
    feels like home everywhere I go.

    It’s just one sky
    hard to deny
    One horizon
    one location.
    One big ocean
    waves in motion
    Wind rotation
    one vibration.

    Cause, I’m a citizen of the world.
    I’m a citizen of the world.

    Who drew that map?
    Who planned that gap?
    Who set that trap?
    (I say)
    Let’s just recap.
    It’s one planet
    one silhouette
    It’s one gravity

    I’m a Citizen of the world.

    I, from Africa and I live in Haiti.

    I’m a Citizen of the world.

    Traveling to America, Asia, Syria.
    I’m a Citizen of the world.

    It’s just one sky
    hard to deny
    One horizon.

    I’m a Citizen of the world.

    Lyrics: Jean Winer PASCAL
    Music and lyrics: Jean BélOny MURAT (BélO)
    Album BélO: Natif Natal, April 2014
    AWARD WINNER SONG in the world music context “WORLD CITIZEN ARTIST “December 5, 2014”

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