Cuban hip hop and reggaeton

I first heard Cuban hip hop live on a holiday to the island in 2003. I checked out lots of different kinds of music on that trip and ended up at a hip hop gig at La Madriguera, where I heard Anónimo Consejo and Obsesion among others. That evening sparked off an interest that led me to make numerous trips to Havana over the next seven years, staying for up to two months at a time. I was fortunate to get to know most of the leading Cuban hip hop groups, and I was able to take two – Los Paisanos and Obsesion – on a tour of the UK in 2007 with the help of Movimientos and the University of London. The later stages of my research were much influenced by the rise of Los Aldeanos, whose career started in the same year that I first visited Cuba. I devoted most of my attention to the Havana hip hop scene, but I also became increasingly interested in reggaetón, which was taking off around the time of my first visit and soon became the dominant sound on the island. I interviewed key players in the reggaetón scene, such as Alexánder Delgado and Nando Pro (Gente de Zona), Jorge Hernández (Los 4), El Micha, and Triángulo Oscuro.

My book Buena Vista in the Club: Rap, Reggaetón, and Revolution in Havana appeared in 2011 with Duke University Press. I also published an article in the same year in Latin American Music Review on underground music and censorship, entitled “Cuba Rebelión: Underground Music in Cuba,” and in 2012 my article “Mala Bizta Sochal Klu: underground, alternative and commercial in Havana hip hop” appeared in the journal Popular Music. Most recently, my article “Represent Cuba: Havana Hip Hop Under the Lens” was published in Alternativas 2 (Spring 2014), available online.

For a full list of my chapters and articles on Cuban hip hop and reggaetón, see here.

Buena Vista in the Club

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