I Got This , the album from the konpa band Nu Look, comes across as a record that was made from the most intimate pages of a man’s very detailed diary, or at least from a man’s magazine relationship column. It truly allows a subjective glance at the secret lives of men, what torments them, and what predominates their psyche. On no tracks are those characteristics more apparent than on songs like “Konfye ak Mefyans” (Trust and Suspicion) and “I Got No Worries”.
The song “Konfye ak Mefyans” (Trust and Suspicion) comes across as forthright, and as having been written from the innermost depths of the heart. The song affords the band’s lead singer Arly Lariviere the opportunity to truly showcase his baritone of a voice. Female friendships are often spoken of as being particularly fragile. In I Got This World, male friendships are portrayed as being especially treacherous. Lariviere sings:
Nan lavi fò ou pran prekosyon
Yon moun pa dwe fè moun konfyans a san pou san
Se ou menm menm yap ponyade nan do
Se yon eksperyans kap pèmèt yon nonm grandi
E sitou aprann de li…
Menm lonbraj ou ap trayi ou nan fè nwa
In this life, you have to act with caution
You should never put your trust in anyone all the way
Next thing you know, it’s you they’re stabbing in the back
But some experiences make you grow as a person
And most of all, you learn from it all
Even your shadow will betray you in the dark
Filled with epiphanies, the song not only bewails relationship failures and betrayals but friendship fall-outs. When most people think of male friendships, they picture bromances and homie handshakes, a guy-to-guy code honor—but never backstabbings, and betrayals, and two-facedness. “Konfye ak Mefyans” offers a differing perspective.
There is some form of moaning and groaning on practically all the tracks of I Got This. On “Confessions”, the narrator gripes over the fact that his relationship hasn’t always been built on the most solid foundations. There’s been difficulties right and left, including family interference. He sings:
Se ou sèlman ki konnen
Sa’m sakrifye pou nou
Tout moun ap kritike’m
Menm fanmi’m yo arrive nye’m
Relasyon’ a long tèm
Projè’n yo a kout tèm
Sèl sa kape kimbe’m
Se konfyans mwen met nan lanmou
Only you know
How much I’ve sacrificed for your sake
Everybody’s on my back
It even got to the point where my family disowned me
Our relationship is long-term
Our plans are short-term
The only thing that keeps me together
Is all the trust I put into our love
Anyone have a tissue on hand?
The track “Techno Addicts” bemoans humanity’s transition from human touch-based communities to disinterested planet of people—in which text messages and social media messages are the most prevalent methods of person-to-person communication. Whereas that song is about technical debauchery, the succeeding track “Trip Nap Trip” (We’re Goofing Around) is about the other sort of debauchery. Fast-moving, and just plain banging, this track features heavy synthesizers and has a beach side party quality to it.
The songwriting on this album is tops; the melodies not as much, with few exceptions like “Confessions” and the track Busted. Now that’s a beat! “I got a job…got a Ferrari…got a condo….” Now those lines aren’t the most original, and they would seem more appropriate for a rap song, but they are awfully catchy. One thing about the song “Busted”, however, is that it marries old school-sounding konpa song with more youthful sounds (in the form of a rapper-singer who goes by the name of PJay); that certainly is an accomplishment of sorts. It’s so bouncy, and so repeat-play-friendly. The song exposes slick-talking, counterfeit players who are in reality broke liars. I got a job. A lie. Unemployed is more like it. Got a Ferrari…yet another lie…a borrowed, dented, uninsured hoopty is more like it. Got a condo. “You’re still living with your mom, man,” yells PJay. Busted, indeed! Ooh, what a beat.
How smooth is “L’âme soeur” (Soulmate)? It’s hard to really come up with a worthy simile. On this song, Lariviere’s voice takes precedence over the melody, so one is able to fully listen—really listen—to his voice. His vocals are very passionate, and charged with emotion, as if he’s lived every line of this song his songs. The melody on “L’âme soeur” is nice too, and the lyrics will awaken everyone’s belief that the search for the mate of one’s dream is not merely a thing that fairy tales are made of. Friendship, first; love afterwards, and even a stronger relationship will result—now that is the mantra of the song. The vocals on this song are very much on point and well-arranged.
Santiman pa janm gen laj…
Chak jou ki pase, unyon nou pi ranfòse
Feelings never get old…
With each day that goes by, our love gets stronger and stronger
“L’âme soeur” is the best slow jam on I Got This , as “Busted” is the best uptempo song. “La Vie à Deux” (This Life Together) is an understated duet with a singer named Tanya St. Val. It takes over where “L’âme soeur” ended, with lyrics that accentuate the importance of arguing fairly and effectively in a relationship. A sample of the lyrics: “Se diskite menm sa nou konnen kap fè nou mal” (We have to talk about things, especially those that are bound to bring us pain). The song tells an even deeper story, that of growing within a relationship and helping it grow. And most of all, to not let the deep love that reigned in the beginning to dry off. Like a flower, the lyrics say, love must be watered on a regular basis, to avoid withering.
Oh, and “Nos Differences” (Our Differences) has got to be added to that combo. The song starts off really nicely, but then goes pretty bland—the melody, though…not the lyrics. The lyrics follow the pattern set by “L’âme Soeur” and “La Vie a Deux”…more relationship analysis and reflection.
Fò nou fè konsesyon
Pou nou trouve solisyon
We have to make concessions
In order to find a solution
Let’s let go of pride
The song also warns about some couples’ tendencies to go the tit-for-tat route:
Mwen pap kite pou ou
Ou menm ki pou kite pou mwen
Sa se pi gro sousi relasyon amorez genyen
“I’m not going to let you get the best of me
You have to be the one who gives in”
That’s the biggest obstacle that relationships face
Now, shall we return to the subject of the songwriting. It’s already been mentioned that a great portion of the songs are heavily layered and rather emotional, and are quite reflective. “Motivation” really lives up to its name. Its verses deplore backbiters and defamers and other negativity-spewing foes. It’s a song about remaining steadfast in the face of adversity. “Motivation” and “I Ain’t Got No Worries” virtually go hand in hand. “Motivation” would serve well as background music for a personal development seminar. It emphasizes the importance of blocking out negativity and having a high level of will power to combat against all odds.
Depi ou gen kouraj, chak jou fò’w batay
Long as you’ve got strength, every day you have to fight
Is it too late to classify “What About Tomorrow” alongside “L’âme soeur” and “Nos Differences”? Truly, the lyrics go deep—very deep—at the nucleus of a relationship. Melody-wise, there’s this light piano sequence towards the beginning that’s an attention-catcher.
Much has to be made of the lyrics of that song as well:
Se bagay ki di anpil
Lé ou ap planifye vi ou
Ak yon moun ki wè ou kòm yon tranzisyon
It’s awfully heart-wrenching
When you’re planning your life around
Someone who sees you as their relationship of the moment
Li twò ta pou mwen pwoteje kè’m mwen
At this point, it’s too late for me to safeguard my heart
The begging and supplication continues:
Pi ga ou anrejistre tout ti erè’m komèt
Pou ou itilize yo kont mwen
Si se ta leka, pa banmwen fo lespwa
Ma mete mwen nan posizyon pou fè moun ap ri de mwen
Don’t keep a record of all the mistakes I make
And if that should be the case
Don’t feed me any false hope
Don’t put me in a situation, where I’ll be the center of ridicule
Like, wow. See what I meant about the songwriting? So much vulnerability; so much heart. But the thing about songs like “What About Tomorrow” is that the lyrics are one-sided. They tell the side of the man. He’s the eternal victim (the narrator that is); nothing is ever his fault. This of course is not the case with the duets, but overall a lot of finger-pointing, I’m-blameless-don’t-hurt-me-oh-please goes on in the majority of the songs. But, as was noted in the beginning the entire I Got This album is constructed around the male point of view.
With its eleven tracks, I Got This is a true musical exploration of the male mind. Man may have been created before woman, but from the songs on I Got This, it’s safe to say that some of their emotional trials are very much the same.