Tagged as the Caribbean’s most impoverished and troubled nation, Haiti has seen all the ferocity its streets have to offer. Poverty has reigned simultaneously with President Aristide, dragging with it the usual desperate costs of violence, starvation and struggle that recently led to the revolt that drove him out.
Born in Canada, rapper Justeece (formerly Justice Khumeiny) spits lyrics with a sincerity and fire drawing from his Haitian roots. Taking influences from hip-hop, reggae, diverse global sounds, alternative radio and even pop, his words speak to everyday struggles and issues in forceful French slang and verbal mathematics. The fast-moving, intense MC dubbed himself Justeece, ironically inspired by his observation that, “We are surrounded by men who are thirsty for power, therefore they implant their own justice.”
In regard to Haiti, Justeece reasons, “It’s unfortunate that a country celebrating 200 years of independence still hasn’t experienced a stable political and economic situation. Hopefully, with international help everything will be better.”
Justeece delivers just as serious on wax, with a roughneck, urgent flow that is more like an incitement to riot than the smooth French flow of an MC Solaar or the Stepford-gangsters and rhythm-free playboys of U.S. hip-hop. His voice is gruff yet fresh while the beats moodily bang out loud and atmospheric, dark in a style bringing to mind a marriage of Mobb Deep and Terminator X, with little to bounce to or suggest getting one’s freak on. This is French-Haitian rap that goes better with a molotov cocktail than a glass of Cris.
Justeece does count his good fortune though. He wears the hat of an artist and also CEO of his SIENS Records out of Canada and says, “Running a business waters down my ego, keeps me alert and objective. Keeps me on my toes.” It is hard to see when Justeece has a second off those toes; Radio play of his 2 singles, “Foo-gezia,” and “Oxygene,” have created quite a street buzz and a solid fan base amongst Canadian, Haitian and U.S. hip-hoppers and dancehall fanatics. Plans are now brewing to spread his message beyond local borders to “the French market in Europe, the Caribbean and Africa.” Justeece will be in and around Paris April 9th-20th getting his sound out.
After playing quite a few shows towards the end of 2003, Justeece is fine-tuning his album, “Combats des Ombres” (Battle of the Shadows), and strives to “have different vibes for every song, you can’t always sound the same and I think that’s what my fans are looking for.”
Hunkered down over a mass of complicated production equipment while a cloudy beat urgently swirls overhead, Justeece, simultaneous fire-spitter and smart CEO, heads back to work, fine-tuning his verbal attacks on the injustices of Babylon, for him the most serious business he has.
“Peace to Jahworks!” he concludes sincerely.