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Female Number of posts : 312
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Registration date : 2007-04-29

PostSubject: Cuban Hip Hop   Mon 14 May - 22:50

Hip hop musicarrived in Cuba via radio and TV broadcasts from Miami. During the 1980s hip hop culture in Cuba was mainly centred around breakdancing. But by the 1990s, with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the onset of the Special Period, young raperos were seeking ways to express their frustrations.


Early days: Importation

Initially hip hop was viewed with suspicion, not just by the
government, but by many in the community as well. With raperos
emulating US rappers' aggressive posturing and lyrical content, hip hop
was seen as just another cultural invasion from the US, bringing with
it the violence and problems of the ghettos.
Gradually this began to change as raperos began to express their own reality and make use of traditional Cuban culture.

Birth of a Cuban scene

The change in both attitude towards hip hop and the move towards
home grown expression was in part facilitated by the involvement of Nehanda Abiodun, a U.S. Black Liberation Army activist in political exile in Cuba.
Upset with what she saw as blind imitation of commercial US rap culture with its depiction of thug life, violence, and misogyny, Abiodun began working with the Malcom X Grassroots Movement in the US to bring progressive US hip hop artists to Cuba. This led to the Black August benefit concerts held in New York and Havana.
Another contributor to hip hop's recognition as authentic Cuban culture was Grupo Uno, a collective from an East Havana cultural center, and rock promoter Rodolfo Renzoli. In 1995, with the help of the Asociación Hermanos Saíz (AHS), an offshoot of the Communist Youth Organization that promotes young artists, they began an annual hip hop festival in the Havana district of Alamar, seen by many as the birthplace of Cuban hip hop. Ariel Fernández of AHS compares Cuban hip hop with the Nueva Trova of the 1960s
- a revolution within the revolution. In his words, "The social role it
is playing is very important, Cuban rap is criticizing the deficiencies
that exist in society, but in a constructive way, educating youth and
opening spaces to create a better society."
Cuban hip hop takes place within the context of Fidel Castro's
maxim "within the revolution everything" which allows for critical
debate as long as it isn't seen to be counter-revolutionary.
Inevitably, as an art form based on individuals' expressions of
everyday life, Cuban hip hop often finds itself at the cutting edge of
this boundary.
As such raperos often find themselves harassed by the Cuban police,
whose job includes guarding against counter-revolutionary acts. However
the perception of what is and what is not counter-revolutionary is a
debate unto itself.
To illustrate the dynamics of the situation, during one instance of
police trying to shut a hip hop event down for being subversive, the
minister of culture arrived to insist that what was taking place was
vital to the revolution and must go ahead.
Harry Belafonte is credited with explaining hip hop culture to Fidel Castro
at a luncheon. Fidel was so impressed that he called hip hop "the
vanguard of the revolution" and was even seen rapping alongside the
group Doble Filo at the opening of a baseball game.

Recent events

In 2002 the government formed the Agencia Cubana de Rap (The Cuban Rap Agency) with its own record label and hip hop magazine to help promote the art form on the island. Weekly radio and TV shows were launched.
With official sanction and resources the Alamar Rap festival was
transformed into an annual International Hip Hop festival held in
August. The event has attracted many international artists including
from the US amongst others, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, The Roots, Common and Dead Prez. Workshops, film screenings and talks are held in conjunction debating culture and lyrical content.
It is estimated that there are some 500 hip hop groups in Cuba.
However, whilst there has been much academic and media interest in
Cuban hip hop, few Cuban groups have managed to be heard outside of the
The first group to achieve international success were Los Orishas, who are now based in France.
In 2002 the album Cuban Hip Hop Allstars, produced by Pablo Herrera, was released in the US featuring some of the best groups at that time.
Another group to be released internationally via Italy is Clan 537 who found fame with "Quien Tiro La Tiza" (Who Threw the Chalk).
In 2003 Europe based female Cuban singer Addys D'Mercedes released her innovative album "Nomad" mixing her Cuban roots with elements of hip hop, house and R&B.
Many other groups resort to free Internet MP3 providers to get their music heard.
In 2006, in Poland was released Compilation - Cuba Libre in PROSTO label.


  • 2003 - Inventos: Hip Hop Cubano. Directed by Eli Jacobs-Fantauzzi.

  • 2006- "East of Havana". Directed by Jauretsi Saizarbitoria and Emilia Menocal.

  • 2007 - "Guerrilla Radio: The Hip-Hop Struggle Under Castro". Directed by Thomas Nybo, Produced by Simon Umlauf

External links

source : wikipedia
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