Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Alamar and Hip-Hop: The Soundtrack of Cuba's Reality

Yoani Sanchez - Award-winning Cuban blogger

Alamar and Hip-Hop: The Soundtrack of Cuba's Reality (VIDEO)
Posted: 04/21/2014 10:41 am EDT Updated: 04/21/2014 12:59 pm EDT

Let's go to Alamar! My mother would say and we would head out to visit
some relatives who lived in that so-called "Siberia." We arrived in an
area of ugly, coarse buildings haphazardly tossed on the grass. We would
play with other kids among these concrete boxes in the high grass that
grew all around. It smelled of the sea, and also of boredom. It should
have been the city of the New Man, but it was just a failed
architectural experiment.

Alamar, despite its urbanist failings, has been the hotbed of a vibrant
and rebellious musical genre: hip-hop. Its amphitheater has hosted some
of the most memorable alternative concerts in Island memory. Hard songs,
composed with the words of daily life and the poetry of the street.
Duels between opponents who, instead of throwing weapons or blows,
launch words and rhymes. How did the stage for this "citizen laboratory"
end up sheltering these lyrics of the rebellion? What happened with the
victorious anthems that led to such corrosive verses of survival?

What happened was that reality set in. Alamar was one of the areas of
Havana hardest hit by the economic hardships of the Special Period. It
saw thousands of its inhabitants leave during the 1994 Rafter Crisis,
and suffered extremely long power cuts accompanied by robberies and
other acts of violence. The Russian technicians left, the squatters made
the empty homes they left their own, and the Chilean exiles who lived
there, for the most part, returned to their own country.

Then the immigrants from the eastern provinces arrived, illegal
constructions extended on all sides, and the police declared that
bedroom city a "danger zone." A "people warehouse," conceived for
disciplined and mediocre people, demonstrated that when you play with
the social or constructive alchemy, you rarely achieve the desired results.

Amid the gray cement, the tiny rooms and the boredom, hip-hop has become
the daily soundtrack. Alamar has its own rhythm. A cadence that hits the
head like the waves that crash against its dogtooth coastline. Like the
picks hitting the ground to lay the foundation of a quadrilateral and
submissive future that never came.

Follow Yoani Sanchez on Twitter: www.twitter.com/yoanifromcuba

Source: Alamar and Hip-Hop: The Soundtrack of Cuba's Reality
(VIDEO) | Yoani Sanchez -

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