• Roël Calister and Diamanta von Lieschdeck from Amsterdam's KiT, blending music from Curaçao with house and hip-hop, perform onstage during globalFEST at Webster Hall in New York City on Jan. 12, 2014.
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    Roël Calister and Diamanta von Lieschdeck from Amsterdam's KiT, blending music from Curaçao with house and hip-hop, perform onstage during globalFEST at Webster Hall in New York City on Jan. 12, 2014.
    Ebru Yildiz for NPR
  • Percussionist Vernon Catlein from KiT, whose name stands for "Kuenta i Tambu" — "Stories and Drums" in the Antillean language of Papiamentu.
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    Percussionist Vernon Catlein from KiT, whose name stands for "Kuenta i Tambu" — "Stories and Drums" in the Antillean language of Papiamentu.
    Ebru Yildiz for NPR
  • Roël Calister, the group's bandleader, plays the metal hoe called the chapi, which has become a popular percussion instrument on the Caribbean island of Curaçao.
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    Roël Calister, the group's bandleader, plays the metal hoe called the chapi, which has become a popular percussion instrument on the Caribbean island of Curaçao.
    Ebru Yildiz for NPR

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The Amsterdam quintet KiT twists Afro-Caribbean tradition into an accessible, club-ready style. KiT, or Kuenta i Tambu — "Stories and Drums" — takes music from the Caribbean island of Curaçao, merges it with European dance-floor music and kicks it all into high, sweaty gear.

With frontwoman Diamanta von Lieshdeck rapping taunts in English and the Antillean language called Papiamentu, what KiT does these days is a far cry from its origins as an educational project to teach young Dutch schoolchildren about the culture of Curaçao, a country of about 140,000 which to this day remains part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

But the Afro-Caribbean rhythms and feel of the tambú drum and the dance of the same name — both central to the island's culture — still dart in and out of the four-on-the-floor, soca and hip-hop rhythms, as do specialty instruments like the metal work hoe called a chapi, which has become a favorite percussion instrument on Curaçao.

SET LIST:
  • "Better Than You"
  • "Jackhammer"
  • "Kabaron (Shrimp)"
  • "MIA"
  • "Santa Elektra (Saint Elektra)"
  • "Going Hard"
  • "Wan Polisá"
  • "Light Switch"
  • "Eh Oh — Rain Go Away"
  • "Maria"
  • "Presidentes Del Cullo"
  • "Rhythm Called Tambú"
  • "Triple Fun"
  • "La Señora (The Lady)"
  • "Waya Waya ("Wave Wave")
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