This is the story of Jean-Hubert Valcourt, the boy who would grow up to be the man, the rapper Dug G. Born in the city of Port-de-Paix, Valcourt was approached by some school friends in the 1990s, and was asked if he could rap. He replied in the negative. But, they asked, did he want to know how to rap? He responded in the affirmative. A rap album, two mixtapes, and a compilation later, Dug G, as he renamed himself, is one of the dominant forces in the world of Haiti’s rap game. Here he is giving Kreyolicious.com his take on the world of rap in Haiti.
How did you get the name Dug G?
Dug G is from my dad’s name, and I even gave it to my son. Only thing, it’s not on my birth certificate or anything. My dad’s name is Duguay Michel Valcourt. I named my son Sael Duguay Valcourt. At home, people call me Jean Duguay. I took the Dug from Duguay, and I took the “g” from the word “gran”, [big] because my grandfather always told me that all things I do should be done in a big way.
What do you think hip-hop means to the youth in Haiti.
I can more accurately tell you what it means to me. It’s a movement. It’s a way of life for me. In Haiti, even now, I don’t think the kids really know the true meaning of hip-hop.
From your perspective, what does it mean to be a rapper in Haiti?
Doing rap in Haiti, is a way for many youths to be stirred away from what they’re not supposed to be doing. For them to create music, and if things work out, to get some business deals, so that they can make a living out of it.
Do you feel a sort of responsibility to the youths who look to you as a sort of role model?
Yeah, because I’ve chosen a good road that my fans can do the same too.
Chat us up a little bit about your creative process.
In terms of beats, I work which a bunch of young producers: Bozenks, ABG, 2KBeat, Dice and a bunch of others. My inspiration depends on the beat I have on hand. I look at how it goes and I write raps that go with the beat. As for the lyrics, when I have an idea, I bounce it off my colleagues at PIWO Records to help me but it together, like Jawes, Gandhi, Zidor, because I like working with a team so that my music can come out good.
It seems to some observers that hip-hop coming out of Haiti…that all it does is just emulate the worst aspects of hip-hop culture in the USA—and sell it to Haitian youth. What are your thoughts on this?
Yes, I’ve made the same observation myself. It’s because they see that’s what makes the most noise [abroad], and they think that this will work here too. But really, it’s like this in every country. There’s different styles of rap that the youth chooses to identify with. The types of rap that are they’re most taken by is what’s popular out there, instead of what reflects who they really are.
Do you think that Haiti’s hip-hop honors women?
Yeah, there are a lot of guys who make songs for girls, which shows that women mean a lot to the rappers. They like to give women their due. There are some though who show the bad side of women. Don’t forget that music is supposed to reflect reality, so they sing about what girls make them go through and what they’ve done to hurt them too.
Some would say that hip-hop is nothing without beef. Is it like that in Haiti’s hip-hop world too? Like, do you beef?
There’s bee in every territory where there’s hip-hop in the world. Before anything else, rap is a revolutionary movement. There’s always competition for evolution. For some time now, especially in the USA, there’s violence involved too. In Haiti, there’s that too. There was beef between Rockfam and Barikad that made our brand of hip-hop move further—not to say Haitian music as a whole. I don’t like violence, but I love competition that can help us get ahead. Like good music. Great music videos. Better albums. With everyone trying to outdo the other.
Which rappers do you admire?
On the international front, I like Jay-Z, Eminem, 50 Cent, Snoop, Booba—on the business side. Nas, Kendrick Lamar, Youssoupha, Kery James in terms of writing. As for rappers in Haiti, I like Dug G, Jawes, Blay Z, Burning, Brigan JP.
How do you handle your fame?
I live the simple life like everyone else, because I’m living in a poor country, where I don’t make a living 100% from what I’m doing. I don’t complicate things, so I can advance. I respect the reality of it all. I don’t lie to myself.
What do you have in store, in terms of your career?
A second album, a compilation with all my artists. And I’m going to keep on producing other artists.
Visit the website of the rapper HERE.