Lil Haiti is here to bring all the vibes, spreading nothing short of positivity and good energy to audiences all around the world. Born in Haiti but moving to Brooklyn, New York at age 10, the rising star first fell into the producer chair, before discovering his own talents behind the microphone.
Embodying the nickname the Big Zoe, which pays homage to his Haitian culture, Lil Haiti states, “I’m one-of-a-kind. I’m very humble. I’m very unique. My music, you can’t stop listening to it. You have this vibration of a vibe. You can’t overlook it. When you hear it, you gravitate to it.”
With an emphasis on melody, Lil Haiti is a music-lover if there ever was one, constantly switching up his flow and vocals while staying true to his Haitian roots. His most recent project The Big Zoe clocks in at 5 songs, featuring lead singles “Where The Cap At?” featuring Flipp Dinero and “Slide.”
Beyond the music, Lil Haiti is a role model, someone who gives all the time and constantly helps or takes care of those around him. Flaunt caught up with Lil Haiti via FaceTime, who was posted in Jersey where his wife bought a house. Read below as we discuss his roots in Haiti, biggest influences, inspo behind “Slide,” collaborating with Flipp Dinero, new project The Big Zoe, perspective on people who work 9 to 5’s, studio essentials, goals, and more!
Being from Haiti, how does that play into your life and your career?
I started doing music when I was 5, so it played a very huge role. We believe in music, music is our peace. It connects us. No matter what’s going on around the country, we always find music to bring us together. Music’s a way of life for us. It’s a getaway even through the tough times, that’s what we use to help us push through.
Biggest influences coming up? Who were you listening to?
I’ve always been a big fan of Meek Mill, Young Thug, Nicki Minaj, and many more. I’m not really necessarily listening to anybody. I hear music here and there. I’m a big music lover, so I listen to anything from old school to new school. I just be more focused on my own music. You’ll find me bumping Lil Haiti a lot in the car, just trying to do something different from what I’ve done before. Get different ideas from what I did before, that’s how I create.
You started out producing, right?
Yes, definitely. I started as a producer, then I merged myself into an artist because a lot of artists didn’t connect to my production. Or maybe I wasn’t feeling the delivery. Because of that, I said “If they can do it, I can do it too. I don’t see why not?”
When did you hear your own voice? When did you realize you had something special?
After producing, when I did the first record. It sounds really dope, I said “Oh! This sounds good.” I was getting some attention from my classmates, so I started to do it. I really had it in me since I was 5 because back in Haiti, I used to sing certain songs that I created off my mind, and the older folks would use that to run with it. I knew I had it, I had to go back and think “Oh shoot! I really used to do this when I was 5.” Crazy.
When did you pick up the moniker Lil Haiti?
Of course, I’m from Haiti. When I came out here to the States I was called H. I used to play football, so people would be like “Yo, H!” When I got to high school, people started calling me Lil Haiti, because we had a little clique where we protect each other. [laughs] When you first come to the country, you get picked on because you don’t understand the language. There’s a language barrier, you dress differently, you look different. People would intimidate you because you didn’t get them, so we had to stick together.
You just released “Slide”, what inspired this record?
It was just a mood. I go based on moods. My imagination goes wild when it comes to mood. That was in the process of me recording the EP too, so there’s a lot of records. It was a vibe, I go off vibes. Maybe a couple of things happened in real life and a lot of things that I said are true, because when I do call my guys, they do slide for me no matter what time it is. If I have some type of issue, they’re going to slide for me. That’s real life.
“Where the Cap at?” featuring Flipp Dinero, how did that collaboration come about?
Shout out to Flipp Dinero, he’s one of my people. We both came from the same place, we both from Haiti too. We both from New York. Certain relationships we have, we both know certain people. The record was played for him, he loved it. He fell in love with it. We reached back to each other. He did it, 123. That’s off the strength of him rocking with the record, we put that together.
How did you guys meet initially?
We met for the first time at the video shoot. We both were at the studio cooking that shit up, but we met at the video shoot. It was off the strength of him rocking with me. It’s a vibe. I’m very humble, he’s very humble. Especially he loved the record, so why not? He was so hyped. The record, you can’t deny it. The cadence instantly grabs you when you hear it. Whatever you feel when you hear it is what he felt, so he got on it.
What was the best memory from the shoot?
The best memory was meeting in person, we’re too much alike. The kid’s very humble, very respectful and down-to-earth. When you meet an artist for the first time, you wouldn’t expect that from certain people because they feel they’re more accomplished than you. Or they have more plaques, or they’ve done this and done that. I haven’t gotten any of those. The respect I got from him, I’ll never forget. Sometimes evil gets the best of people, you feel you’re better or are a bigger artist. I didn’t get that from him. We both still here trying to get it, a very humble kid. It felt good.
Why are you the Big Zoe?
I’m the Big Zoe because I’m one of the few in New York that really put on for the Zoes, for the Haitians. To put Haiti really on the map. A lot of people know Haitian people, but I’m one of the ones that’s really rocking out hard. A long time ago, you used to be afraid to say you were Haitian because you get picked on. Now, everybody wants to be us. I like to show them yo, we really the shit.
We’re really good at what we do. I used to put a camp together where I was protecting the other fellow Haitians that didn’t have a voice at that moment to speak up against bullying. I was one of the guys that used to help the other kids. So why not? I’m the Big Zoe.
Why is it important for you to be a role model?
I want everybody to win. I want to see people happy. I’m a generous person so everything I do, I want to do it in a way that doesn’t only benefit me but benefits the world. When I see the world, the people that’s watching, trying to be a part of this music culture, I’m for the people. In general, not just music but the world. I want to make sure everything I do is for people to be a part of. Sometimes in life, we might slip. Life has its ups and downs, and we’re not perfect. I’m trying my best I can for the people watching from the outside.
Why do you have such respect for people working 9-5’s?
I personally still have a 9 to 5 while doing this music thing. I work at a hospital. It’s tough to wake up every morning to do the same thing and be tired. You have to wake up the next day and do it again. Ugh, you don’t get to be with your family as much. You have a rough time dealing with issues or anything you’re dealing with at work, you have to bring that energy home. If you don’t work for yourself and say ‘fuck whatever that’s happening!’, you gotta deal with it because the bills have to get paid.
At the same time, 9 to 5’s help you discipline yourself. You don’t want to show up to work late because you’ll get fired. You don’t want to do what the boss says to do, because you’re going to get fired. It helps you get disciplined, I had to carry that to the music. Music, you have to have discipline. You have to have respect. You can’t show up to interviews late, you can’t show up to shows late. That’s what discipline has done for me. Sometimes you might find us a little aggravated. It’s not about discipline at that point, we’re tired. [laughs]
3 things you need in the studio at all times?
Peace, that’s my get away. Most importantly, I always need my peace. Usually, people love to party, I don’t like to party at the studio. I like to be by myself with an engineer or no engineer, because I can record myself. I need a bottle of water. I don’t really need anything, I just like my peace. I’ll put that for all 3 of them. I like quietness. I like to be focused. I don’t like to be rushed. I’m a perfectionist. I like to get things right.
When you hear it, it feels good to you because you don’t know how it started. For me, any little mistake will play in my head over and over until I get it right. Definitely my peace, a bottle of water, and no distractions.
Talk about owning your masters and being independent.
It feels great to own my masters, I know a lot of artists come in and have to fight for that down the line. I’ve always loved creative control because I always love to do what I want to do. Not that I don’t like to be controlled, it’s more so I’m very hands-on with the things I do. I do take critics, but I like to be hands-on. When you don’t own certain things, you feel like a puppet and you have to do what they want you to do. I comply with the team when they want me to do something, which is great. I love that but the fact that you own something: you knew you work hard for something that you’ve been working for your whole life, you own all of it and it feels great. You never gave up, it makes you strive more and go harder. At this point, everybody’s going to eat, but at least you know what exactly what you’re doing it for.
Goals for yourself at this point in your career?
I want to continue to be consistent and keep pushing this music to go to the top. I want to be one of the biggest artists, not just for the money. When the money starts flowing, I’m able to help more people around the world. I like to give so in order for me to give, I have to have. I want to be blessed enough to bless the people that are less fortunate. Not everybody can do what you do. Not everybody is in the right state of mind to do what you do, or anything else that’s happening. I want to be the person that can give them some type of hope. That’s my goal with this music going up: to give other people hope. Giving back to the community and different places that don’t have hope.
Anything else you want the people to know?
It’s ya boy Lil Haiti. Right now, I’m heading back to the studio. You should expect an album. I’m not too sure when, that’s up to the label. We’re going to figure it out to see exactly what they want to do, how to move. I’m out here working hard. Stand by, there’s a lot more happening for Lil Haiti that I want everybody to be a part of. Keep tapping in with me.