Hip hop group, Mystik 703, is not like other popular bands in Haiti. Rather than promoting “the fast life” of sex and drugs, they want their music to inspire positive change. In the fall of 2010, the band met with International Medical Corps about putting together a song that would take a stand against rape and gender-based violence.
Now released, the song, “Se Yo Ki Ban Nou Lavi” (“Woman: the Symbol of Life”), is raising awareness in Haiti, particularly among young men, about how violence against women cannot be tolerated.
International Medical Corps’ Communications Officer, Guyto St. Fleur, sat down recently with Dedkra-z and Eud of Mystik 703 to discuss the band’s work and what this particular song means to them.
(International Medical Corps) How did you all meet as a band and get your start?
(Dedkra-z): At first, it was just three of us. We met at Fx Sound Studio in 1999. A friend of ours asked us to participate in music and we did. There was me, K.Libr’, and Ouragan. Since then, we have remained united. Initially, the group was called “Soldiers.” We changed it to Mystik 703 in the year 2000. Eud joined the group in 2008. Before that time she used to participate in live jams with me. For now, our discography includes two albums: “Nou nan lakou a” and “Deceni.” These are two successful albums and we have a total of nine videos.
(International Medical Corps): Have you ever worked with an NGO before?
(Dedkra-z): To a degree, yes. Each musician from Mystik 703 has personally had the experience of working with other NGOs, but never the entire group.
(International Medical Corps): What made you want to do this song?
(Dedkra-z): We all know after the January 12 earthquake, the pace of violence has dramatically increased in Haiti. We mean violence in every aspect – violence at home, in camps, through the streets. The cases of rapes and physical assaults are often in the headlines. So when somebody told us that International Medical Corps wanted to make music to stop violence against women, we had all agreed that we wanted to support the project. Frankly, stopping violence against women and other vulnerable groups was our primary motivation to make this music. But as we were all aware of what International Medical Corps has done with medical and social development since the earthquake, we felt that it was a great opportunity for Mystik 703 to join its voice with International Medical Corps and fight violence against and stigmatization of women.
(International Medical Corps): Was there a certain inspiration for it?
(Dedkra-z): We often talk to friends, we take time conduct our own little surveys in different neighborhoods, and we experience what happens in the society every day. You can understand that we are implicitly victims of non-stop violence. When you are about to create an instrumental version for a song, the lyrics need to fit the music. From what we see, Haitian women are the most affected by the violence in the society. Before we made that song, we tried to see how important women are to a community and what they represent in a society. We tried to project some women in our minds, like our singer Eud, our mothers, our wives. We wonder what life would be without them.
(International Medical Corps): What do you hope this song will do?
(Dedkra-z): For sure, this song will raise people’s consciousness. Those who are used to beating women. Those who have not done it yet but still intend to. We must not forget that there is no slavery anymore – it’s unfair to mistreat women and continue these old practices against them. It’s not only men-on-women violence. There’s also women-on-women violence, like a mother beating her children. This song will help with violence prevention so that kids, when they become adults, won’t have that same attitude.
(International Medical Corps): How do you think music can create change?
(Dedkra-z): We think that music will have an impact on whoever listens to it, depending on the content of what he or she is listening to. Music is the best therapy to change people’s behavior. Music can be used to influence people of any social category: rich, poor, adults, young people. That is why we chose [music] to bring positive impacts to our community.
(International Medical Corps): What has doing this song and collaboration meant to you personally?
(Dedkra-z): As responsible young people, doing this song in collaboration with International Medical Corps means a lot to us. It goes to prove once again that we are responsible citizens in society. It makes a lot of people discover our music and see us in another angle. Now, many people have another perception of Mystik 703, so we are proud of this collaboration with International Medical Corps.
(International Medical Corps): Do you think International Medical Corps is different from the other NGOs, if so how is it different?
(Dedkra-z): Without any hesitations, I can easily say yes. International Medical Corps shows [how it is] different in a lot of ways. According to what I know, this NGO has been involved in a variety of social activities aiming to improve life in Haiti since after the earthquake, such as: emergency medicine trainings, gender-based violence prevention, and a bunch of health programs. International Medical Corps has changed the perception we had of NGOs before January 12. In a very short span of time, International Medical Corps has done many things for the people of Haiti.
(International Medical Corps): Would you work for International Medical Corps if given the chance? If so, why?
(Dedkra-z): This is an interesting question and the answer is very easy. As we have already had an idea of what International Medical Corps is capable of doing in terms of progress and innovation, I would certainly work for them if they asked me to. I think we are on the same track and can work on many joint projects in the future.
Song Lyrics for “Se Yo Ki Ban Nou Lavi” (“Woman: the Symbol of Life”)
Smart men don’t say bad things against woman
Before going to the bedroom, they decide it together
A woman is a flower…………
Don’t hit her even with a flower
Woman is the center of reproduction
You’re mistreating your wife in front of your child
And you’re asking for change all the time
The world is many countries, a country is many families
When a man hits his woman, it’s a problem for a country that’s going down
That reproduces only bad seeds
Violence in any sense is against development
Women are lights they are my mother
Thanks to them if we grow
What are you waiting for to give them full assistance
Please don’t abuse them
I’m vigilant in everything that has to do with my body
I won’t walk alone in dark areas
Don’t force me to share in any context
Every one with common sense should protest against sex
If the other person doesn’t agree he or she goes the other way
You’re wrong if you’re thinking on making violence against women that don’t have any defense
And more than that, I’m your mother and I’m from your ribs
You shouldn’t punch me if you also care for your own body.
Nobody will agree with the act of violence on any form
Everybody needs support, especially when they don’t have good treatment
You need to treat her like you treat yourself
When you protect, you guarantee the kids’ life
When you respect woman, you respect life
Beating is not included, this is out of date
Nobody will take that from you when you pretend you’re putting things in order
To me she’s the prettiest woman in this down world believe me
She’s the first one who feels my first heart beat
She’s the one who cares the most for me , she has a flawless love
She’s working as hard as she can so that I can have a life without hardship
From her womb comes another one who calls me elder or younger brother
This is a word to tell how proud I am
I am ready to do all to satisfy her
She’s the one who’s spreading the seed of advice in my choice’s garden
She’s the sign that helps me follow the right path of my success
To my wife my success is what gives me unique respect
She’s the black diamond In my strong box
I can’t spend a day without seeing her
If I put my hand on her it’s just to caress her
I’ll never be too tired to tell her that she’s the guardian of my life
I love you
Woman is the synonym of nature
The family rocks to build societies
The womb that gives life we shouldn’t treat her with scorn