The (Cuban) Hip Hop Revolution

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A NEW MOVEMENT HAS EMERGED IN CUBA, fueled by a stifling
trade embargo and its deep-seated consequences—namely
poverty and racialized inequalities. In response, Hip-hop
Cubano has forged a new revolution. Armed with batas,
congas and Cuba’s musical sensibilities, Raperos Cubanos
unabashedly speak to the injustices of poverty and racism,
through lyrics that echo the realities of their everyday lives.
Rap popularity began to flourish in Cuba during the
1990s. Today, there are more than 500 Hip-hop groups on
the island, spreading a message of roots and resistance.
These groups encompass kid street rappers and popular
artists like Amenaza, Primera Base, Instinto, Anonimo
Consejo or Las Krudas, performing in clubs and recording
their penetrating lyrics for the world.
In the early days, the government expressed opposition
to this movement. But by 1999, government officials had
changed their tune, declaring Cuban Hip-hop as cultural
patrimony and establishing the Agencia Cubana de Rap
(the Cuban Rap Agency), which now records artists and
supports the annual Cuban Hip-hop Festival in Havana.
Despite this new found support, Hip-hop Cubano is just
now hitting the international music scene.
Later this month, CHILA (the Chican@ Latin@ Association
for Autonomous Anthropology) haa organized Cultura
Contra el Bloqueo (Culture
against the Blockade),
one of the first university
conferences to
examine the power, politics,
and cultural production
of Cuban Hip-hop.
Several performances will
round off the seminars, in
an effort to bring the
Cuban Hip-hop revolution
to the UIUC campus.

About Antonia Darder

Antonia Darder is a professor at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She is a longtime Puerto Rican activist-scholar involved in issue's relating to education, language, immigrant workers, and women's rights.
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