Havana-based Media Analyst
Posted: March 26, 2010 02:28 PM
Painting the Town Boricua Red, White and Blue
Havana is under fire. This week alone the city is hosting two very
significant cultural events: the schooner Amistad docking in Matanzas on
Monday and later on by the end of the week in the capitol and the
arrival of one of the most influential Latin music groups of the decade:
For the English speaking public and for those who don't subscribed to
the urban rhythms of the blend of Hip Hop and reggaeton together with
sounds from the Andes and rumba, Calle 13 probably doesn't mean anything
other than noisy ruckus coming from the slums anywhere from East Harlem
to the South Side of Chicago. But Calle 13 is from Puerto Rico and for
Cuba that means the other wing of the same bird.
Taking their name from the street where they grew up in San Juan, Rene
Perez and Eduardo Cabra are the front men of a group made up of over 20
musicians whose musical talents have garnered them 12 Grammy awards
after only three albums.
Their songs are a blend of Latino Hip Hop woven together with blends of
other musical genres that spawn from the heads of Eduardo (Visitante)
and René (Residente) spiced up with the rhythmic talents of the multiple
percussionists who have already admitted much of their inspiration stems
from this other island in the Caribbean.
They are reminiscent of the Young Lords in the very essence of their
beings. Their lyrics speak to social injustice and the undue cruelties
that they as Puerto Ricans have seen in their homeland. Querido F.B.I. a
song telling the infamous tale of the murder of independence fighter and
machetero leader Filiberto Ojeda Rios at the hands of federal agents in
2005 is one very clear cut example of their stance.
"We take from all the places where we've been; this fuels our body of
work and is the end result of the songs I rap," said René (Residente)
during a massive gathering at Casa de las Americas in Havana. "With this
mix of music's we push the envelop and help introduce our listeners to
new rhythms, musical styles and aspects of the cultures that surround
and nurture us all."
When asked about the continent and where it's headed Rene has no doubts:
"Latin America is growing for the better, all of it, Central America,
South America, its all growing stronger more united. We can feel it."
Tonight Lola Rodriguez de Tió will resonate to the four winds when
thousands of young and not so young gather to hear the young voices of
Puerto Rico together with young Cuban artists performing live by the
water front. The two winged bird will fly, Puerto Rico and Cuba, as one.
Follow Margarita Alarcon on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Maggichu