Haitian Hollywood Blog

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10 Questions With Singer-Songwriter Mikaelle Cartright, Part I

singer Mikaelle Cartwright
Mikaelle Cartright has a voice that’s like tropical silk. The New York-born, singer-songwriter has a jazzy style that recalls the styles of singers like Anita Baker with a little hint of Shirley Bassey. How did she develop her jazzy style? What role do her parents play in her support system as a singer-songwriter? Read on to find out.

Kreyolicious: Your name is Mikaelle, no doubt stemming from the name Michael, which means Who Can Be Like God? What is the most extraordinary thing that’s happened to your life that has had you saying the same phrase?
Mikaelle Cartright: Correct, my name means “Who is like God”. My existence causes me to ask that constantly. My birth was a miracle. My mother almost lost me. She was placed on bed rest somewhere around the fourth month. The muscles of her uterus were giving out and the doctor said I was going to just fall out. The medication, some hormone treatment, was barely available and when Baby Doc fell, it was chaos. My mother was, thank God, able to leave and go have me in New York where much of her family still lived. She received the proper care and boom, there I came, healthy and obviously, alive.

Kreyolicious: What was your childhood like? Did you have musical tendencies crawling in early on?
Mikaelle Cartright: My childhood was filled with music. We were home-schooled, in English, in Haiti… At home we always had grandpa’s old record player going. From Bach, to Mozart, to Chopin, Schwarz, and Tchaikovsky there was always something classical on thanks to Big sis Jamie, who went on to study Opera. But when my brother Chris and I got a chance to pick, it would be instrumental jazz standards, or 60s pop tunes.
singer Mikaelle Cartright
All if us loved music growing up. I was 10 when I sang a solo with my papa in church; 11 when I joined the choir. It all came very naturally. My dad played guitar and my mom led the choir. Totally natural, and we all got the bug. Did I mention my brother plays guitar and has written some of the most incredible rock songs ever?

Kreyolicious: Your parents have been supportive in your journey as a musical creative?
Mikaelle Cartright: Yah, mostly. So long as I am not raunchy or loose, they’re down. My mom has some unreasonable expectations, but that’s to be expected. She’s a pastor. I think my dad has given up on me. He doesn’t even know what I’m doing anymore.

Kreyolicious: You have such a jazzy style. What made you take up singing?
Mikaelle Cartright: Well everything I just said, plus, by the time I went to college, I had already started playing guitar…and while I was there I did a lot of open Mic nights. A friend of mine caught wind of that, and invited me to join a singers’ troupe planning shows for a local theater. I was with them almost two years. We did all kinds of styles of music, but the one that stuck most was the Jazz. Ever since 18 years old, I’ve been a fanatic. It changed everything about the music in me. It released everything you hear me doing today.

Kreyolicious: Were you taken by any singers growing up? What did you admire them?
Mikaelle Cartright: Shania Twain, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Celine Dion and Toni Braxton, Bryan Adams, Boys II Men, Dru Hill, Luther Vandross and Usher. I grew up on them…They were there every night on Sweet FM. I wasn’t allowed to listen to secular music so I snuck a radio in my bed every night and would listen till 1, 2 even 3 am…no one ever knew why I was so tired…Their voices were iconic. I knew that if I could sing like them, I’d be really good.

Later on, I went more toward soft rock/alternative and soul, listening, in depth, to John Mayer, Coldplay and India Arie. Those three are the reason I write music and aspire to creating beautiful songs that will lift people’s spirits. After all, they were my emotional anchors for so many years.

Kreyolicious: As a woman and singer, when do you feel the most beautiful?
Mikaelle Cartright: When my voice is bangin’.

This concludes PART I of the interview with Mikaelle Cartright. Meanwhile…

Visit the singer’s Youtube Channel |

Original author: kreyolicious
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5 Questions With Hip Hop Lyricist and Rapper Skank Dollar

Skank Dollar is a survivor, however you’d like to interpret the word. He’s the Brooklyn native who raps about the life that he’s known. One of his career-defining collections Live from Da Trap, gives personal-diary-like details of life as he sees it. Prior to that work, he put out The New York Times Tape 1, a concept mix tape with each song symbolizing the figurative headlines from Brooklyn’s lyrical yet tough streets.

rapper Skank Dollar

Kreyolicious: How did you get the name Skank Dollar?
I got the name Skank from my older brother…a Flatbush Brooklyn street hustler who was given the name after he escaped a police custody situation. He stole from a female officer he slept with. One of the guys from the neighborhood caught wind of his local acts, and deemed him Skank for his influence on young women from around the neighborhood. He later added the Dollar part in hopes of creating a music persona after surviving a massive trailer accident on the the corner of Ocean Avenue in Brooklyn, New York.

Kreyolicious: Did hip-hop choose you or did you choose hip-hop?
Skank Dollar: Since his passing, I’ve actually chosen hip-hop as a way to deal with my own personal grief. Being an “early adult”, I wasn’t familiar with death of a loved one before this…I actually lost school friends in the area, but never lost someone so close to me. So, I was moved down South by my family due to poor school grades from my Brooklyn neighborhood. And engulfed in the lifestyle, my family tried to prevent me from. The news of his passing was sent to me and my older brother. The hip-hop aspect came beforehand after picking up frivolous drug-dealing aspects and skills from local notorious thugs in the South Florida area. It was like a pastime. After hustling, I thought myself remembering how much he wanted to be a rapper instead. So once I acquired the gift, I began to pass it on to my fellow streets hustlers who had long taken me in as if I was a runaway stray…And I felt like one too…At the time I was forced to go into this new area by him at the time due to his numerous exploits in the neighborhood we where from. So the rapping came naturally. My new friends were excited that I was from New York and expected me to be a good rapper…So, me being inexperienced, it was a perfect place to practice after my hustling duties…[Laughter] I was deemed the rapper out of my group because I was from new York. Cliché…I also had to open the minds of my friends to Northern hip-hop and vice versa…That has had an effect on my style of rap personally. So when I do hip-hop today, knowing I have influenced many in my travels, I keep the Southern style in my heart. Knowing my siblings had a more boom-bap style, he would’ve surely used before his soul was called home.
rapper Skank Dollar of Brooklyn
Kreyolicious: When you’re creating, what’s the process like from start to finish?
Skank Dollar: Honestly…it comes kinda natural…it’s random. I tend to find female partners first. sometimes I Freestyle songs over my live feeds today in time but when I was younger in the early and mid-2000’s I had less resources. I’ve since adjusted my style of rap and formed a conscious trap style of rap with is sort of an explanation in a sense… like I mixed the North and the South as much as I could. So sometimes I’d sound like I’m from the North, but spoke like I was from the South, or I’d sound like I’m from the South, but spoke like I was from the North or Midwest.

Kreyolicious: Which rappers have had the most profound influence on you?
Skank Dollar: I’ve pretty much today met all of my influences aside from a handful of artist like Jay Z, Mobb Deep, Trick Daddy, The Wu-Tang Clan, Dr Dre, Ice Cube, Wyclef Jean, LL Cool J, Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, and Sean Combs. But I’ve come across many and some I didn’t take photographs with or met this decade. My social networks tell a different story today. But it has been a long time coming and very difficult. I’m talking about from Ludacris to Tip Harris in from the mid to late 2010s. Too many to count and I’m still in the streets.

rapper Skank Dollar New York
Photo Credit: Dominik Kublan

Kreyolicious: You ever been to Haiti, dawg?
Skank Dollar: Nah. I ain’t have never been to Haiti. Unfortunately, but I do plan on visiting very very soon. As a young teen, I had a spoiled friend who visited Haiti with his family members. Unfortunately he had nothing but bad things to say about it being a spoiled American. In my adulthood, my mother took the time to inform me of my extensive background. So, I’m still learning about myself as I build my image and name.

Kreyolicious: Do you think there will be a time when hip hop won’t matter?
Skank Dollar: No. I believe hip-hop music as a music form will be preserved for decades and generations to come…It will be around for a long time…and as a young boy from Brooklyn I’ve long begun my quest to leave my stamp.

CLICK HERE to visit Skank Dollar’s website | SKANK DOLLAR ON YOUTUBE | INSTAGRAM

Original author: kreyolicious
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