Thursday, October 22, 2009

Unedited Thoughts/Notes about Cuban Hip Hop Music Part 1

The birth of hip hop in Cuba is very interesting, from Miami radio shows, Cubans picked up the radio waves that extended into their homes. This introduced them to the urban genre of music of hip hop in the mid nineties. What I feel is dangerous with the adoption of hip hop into Cuba is the ideas that are U.S. based, which infiltrate the reality of the Cuban youth, and make it their own. Their context of racism/prejudice is much more different than its development in the U.S. Instead of adopting the genre to portray a unique reality, they are recalling foreign themes & experiences and applying it to their lives. It's like they are trying to live a 60s civil rights movement of their own. Furthermore, if you notice a lot of Cuban rappers like to dress with jerseys and shit, like we do here. That's why I respect Seku (the taller one in the video) because if you notice his dressing style is much more relevant to his "identity" as a Black man in Cuba. Possibly the best hip hop duo in Cuba, Anonimo Consejo, have been together since the 90s. Notice how they biggin' up Pablo Herrera, the only first Cuban hip hop producer, he was Amenaza's producer, before they became Orishas and left Cuba. When you talk to a Cuban MC in Cuba, they'll tell you "we make music for Cubans, because this is where we live."I just finished watching an interview another great, but newer hip hop group, called "Los Aldeanos" and they were saying, that they are not concerned with making music about the U.S., or about Puerto Rico (not saying that politically, culturally they might feel an alliance b/t both countries), but more so that the focus on their music comes out from the Cuban reality and it will be nothing, but that, through their personal experiences that will be documented. The mistakes then that some groups make is talk about the Cuban experience, but through sociological, historical frameworks that are U.S. based. How can you apply the particularities of the issue of police brutality in the U.S. to however policing is manifested in Cuba. They'll make references to how the police looks at them a certain way, but describe exactly how policing occurs under the revolution and how people interact with that? It seems to me that sometimes they take cliches from English hip hop and incorporate it to their own, depending on the group of course.

Refer to video:

This is a great video by "Los Aldeanos" a group that started in Feb 2003, so very new, but very lyrical. This son entitled, "Miseria Humana, " or Human Misery, conveys the economic harsh realities of the Cuban people as well the social issues that have risen as the revolution, through Education, etc, has tried to rid of the mentality of Cubans. It's interesting how the themes portrayed are also universal themes because they occur is most poor original countries around the world. It is such a complex idea, the revolution has struggled economically, therefore we start seeing some of the issues, that as Fidel has eloquently stated in his newest autobiography, are associated with the lower classes. I hope they know this, but this music also applies to all over Latin America, Asia, and Africa. He said about the woman gone wrong, 'Sista, why the corner call go from bed to bed with kid in belly and twenty fathers with none of them ever running to claim your blood…you’re not the inspiration for a relationship and I’ll tell you why you I’ll explain your situation. You open up your legs and close your heart’ That’s not even the best verse either. Sunez says that it doesn't matter language his style comes straight out of the Rakim school. This is the perfect song in the sense that it describes a universal theme, the way in which it happens in Cuba specifically. So he's talking about the concept of Human Misery and how it plays out in Cuba, but it is indeed a condition that occurs daily in others as well.

Refer to video:

Real 70 productions, right now is the largest producing group. Papa Humbertico, one of my personal favorite Cuban MCs, has put it together and all groups from all over the island go there to get their music recorded. People come from as far as Santiago de Cuba on the Eastern side of the island and the Isla de Juventud. This song is more an international message to all the different situations that go on around the different countries. My favorite quote is "Si mi comandante en Jefe por siempre pudiera existir." Also, I've noticed that content varies a bit depending on their skin manifestation of blackness. The yellow seeds tend to see things more political and social, while the darker seeds rhyme more about ethnicity/race. This has to do with the way in which the grafted man has manifested division amongst the Cuban people through its centuries of history. At the same time I think these perspectives blend in well together like pieces to a puzzle. We can't get the full picture if they are all rhyming about the same thing. It is the boxes in which all our different shades of black peoples have been put into that will bring about a part of the full perspective of the Asiatic black family of the world. In this case, let's just apply that idea to the reality of Cuban hip hop.

Refer to video:

In this next song, Papa Humbertico narrates creatively his experience growing up, but through every single political event that occurs. So he talks about the golden years in Cuba when people actually made money through their careers, his father being an Engineer. Everything then changes when on the TV they announce the fall of socialist camp in Europe, this leads to terrible economic conditions. It is then when he says his father has to go into another career, but regardless to this, the father doesn't leave Cuba like many do because he is faithful to the revolution because they are "pioneros con el comunismo, seremos como el Che." In Cuba when one talks about the ideal construction of man, a man who leads revolution with the purest and unbreakable ethical and moral standards, that is Che. He has been the model for the youth and continue to be. I have this amazing book called "Che Habla A La Juventud" and it is precisely his thoughts about man, morality, etc that he transcends to the new generations of revolutionary Cubans. I really like the portrayal of Cuba and the lives of the Cuban people of this song. It puts into context the many perspectives, through his own as well, of what happened. It is perhaps why like the title of his song, that kid that he was, could never dream in colors. This is also metaphorical in saying, that his generation was not able to see the prosperous years of the revolution. It is very realistic, and not accusatory. He's almost conveying that he understands why shit is the way it is now in Cuba.

Refer to video:

Peace, Earth Izayaa Allat.

1 comment:

  1. Great post and understanding of Cuban hip-hop.
    My band Bajo mundo started in Centro Habana in 1996 and we were featured on the Cuban Hip-Hop All stars Cd. Pablo Herrera was the master at helping all of us be heard and god bless him for that. I have posted a link to our bands myspace, Iam now living and producing my music in Toronto Canada. Great article
    Felix Bajo Mundo