Tag Archives: Fidel Castro

Monday Music Break: Jay-Z, Kanye and Francisca Valenzuela

15 Aug
Fidel Castro speaking in Havana, 1978

"Jigga what?"

Fidel Castro can celebrate his 85th birthday this year knowing that he finally got a shout-out in a Jay-Z rhyme.  He raps on Otis, from the new album Watch the Throne:

“Welcome to Havana
Smoking cubanos with Castro in cabanas
Viva Mexico, Cubano
Dominicano, all the plugs that I know
Driving Benzes, wit’ no benefits
Not bad huh? For some immigrants
Build your fences, we diggin’ tunnels
Can’t you see? We gettin’ money up under you”

Smokin’ cigars with Castro… Viva Mexico, Cubano. Dominicano.

O.k. It doesn’t need to make sense when it comes to Latin America…  At least it rhymes and the beat is hot? (Actually I’m a little skittish when it comes to sampling Otis Redding but that’s neither here nor there.)

Onto some music that’s actually from el sur — Californian/Chilean singer Francisca Valenzuela has a new album, Buen Soldado, out this week.

She is currently touring the US – hitting New York on September 20 and bringing it back to Santiago de Chile in November.

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Castro Turns 85 and Cuba Celebrates its First Gay Wedding

13 Aug
Fidel Castro becomes the leader of Cuba as a r...

"By the power invested in me by the Republica de Cuba, I now pronounce you..."

A perusal of today’s headlines show a stark difference in coverage of Fidel Castro’s 85th birthday.

In more interesting news, a Cuban couple – a transgender woman (Cuba has authorized sex changes under its national health policy) and a gay man are celebrating Castro’s birthday by getting married – it’s a “gift” to the former leader, they say.  While same sex marriage is still banned in Cuba, the event is considered by the media, and the couple themselves, as the country’s first gay marriage. Their wedding, the couple says, “will be an ode to freedom, and the rights of the LGBT community.”  How revolutionary indeed.

Cuba Opens its Economy and Kick Out the Jams

7 Aug
Anónimo Consejo

Anónimo Consejo

An LA Times article today continues to hit on what is quickly becoming a trope in US journalism on Cuba – a focus on the state’s easing of controls on the economy under Raúl Castro and emergence of the private sector, small-business entrepreneurs and land-owners to be. 

Is it a big deal that one of the last strongholds of Marxist economics in the world is legalizing private property and enterprise? Of course. Still, the repeated publication on this type of article gives the impression that there’s not much else going on in Cuba. Well, this and the continued detainment of USAID operatives.  If you’re thinking of investing then hold your horses.

Maybe it’s just me – while these articles speak at length to the hopes and dreams of burgeoning Cuban entrepreneurs – they also read all too eager to declare Cuba (almost) open for business and the communist system a complete failure. Fair enough – I’m not about to make a counter-argument on the merits of the Castroism-Marxism – but let’s remember that Cuba has resisted U.S. sabotage and embargo for nearly 50 years.

For a change of the discussion on Cuba I was happy to find CUNY Professor Sujatha Fernandesopinion piece on Cuban Hip-Hop. The piece highlights groups like Obsesion and Hermanos de Causa. Most interestingly she points out that Cuban rap “stands in stark contrast to American rap, where the diversity of sounds and themes has been eschewed in favor of a catchy pop formula with a focus on consumption…” One major factor is that the government, in recognition of hip-hop’s popularity among the youth, began to financially support the Cuban hip-hop music scene.

While that “distinctiveness,” she writes, “may be lost as the country opens up to a global market economy… [i]t’s worth remembering that imposed, even self-imposed, isolation can be a crucible for artistic creativity.”

Let’s hope Cuban hip-hop artists recognize as much – if the economic embargo has kept Cuban rappers from mimicking the likes of Drake and Lil’ Wayne then I think we’ve done them a favor.

And now – some Anónimo Consejo: