Monday, February 13, 2017

Faith Arrives to the Rhythm of Reggaeton

Faith Arrives to the Rhythm of Reggaeton / 14ymedio, Luz Escobar

Luz Escobar, Havana, 11 February 2017 – Sexists, hard and streetsmart,
such are the lyrics of most reggaeton songs that are heard everywhere.
Topics that speak about jealousy and rivalries, but that can also convey
very different messages. Under the name La Unión (the Union), a group of
young artists spread the Christian faith to the rhythm of this urban
genre so popular in Cuba.

The group, founded in 2013, promotes their songs and videos through the
Weekly Packet in the folder titled "Christian section." A musical work
that stands out in the Cuban panorama by combining two elements that
seem opposed: religion and reggaeton.

Willing to break down those prejudices, Ramiro (Pucio), Osmel (Mr.
Jacke), Randoll (El Escogido), and Misael (DJ Misa), compose and sing
for a new generation of listeners born with this millennium. A
generation accustomed to choosing a la carte the audiovisual materials
they consume and who are very familiar with flash drives, Zapya and
smart phones.

In times of vertigo in the exchange of content, the members of the Union
release their songs under the label Kingdom Records, a handcrafted
studio installed in the house of DJ Misa, in the Alamar neighborhood. In
that zone of ugly buildings and good musicians, rap and hip-hop reigned
in earlier decades.

In public performances of the Union, women dancing with lewd movements,
twerking style, are not seen and the group members do not wear heavy
gold chains around their necks. Even so the places where they perform
are packed and fans sing along to the lyrics, which praise values such
as solidarity and friendship.

In a conversation with 14ymedio during a promotional tour around La
India, in Old Havana, the director of the group, DJ Misa, said that from
the beginning they wanted to "take the message of Jesus to the Island's
youngest listeners" and they thought it "perfect" to use urban music "as
a strategy" because "that is what is mostly heard in the streets."

Currently, the DJ Misa is immersed in a whirlwind of preparations for a
concert the group will perform on February 17 in the central venue
Riviera. The launching of a new video clip also fills him with pride,
although reaching the point they have now arrived at has not come easily.

The beginnings of the Union were not exempt from "some obstacles,"
comments DJ Misa, because few people dared to "mix Christian music with
reggaeton." However, they found acceptance within the island's
millennials and the pastor of the Methodist Church of Alamar, Daniel
Marín, who supported them unconditionally.

A recent survey of young Cubans found that their idols range from soccer
players, like Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, to reggaeton singers,
like Yomil, El Chacal and el Príncipe, who are overwhelmingly popular
among those under 30 years old.

In this context, Christian musicians count on an audience interested in
rhythms representing reality. But it is also an audience accustomed to
the ruggedness of many reggaeton songs, which praise sexism, promiscuity
and frivolity. These are the themes heard in bars, cafeterias, and taxis
and even during morning assemblies in Cuban schools.

DJ Misa explains the support they have also received from other pastors.
He says it is because many young people "who are in church but no longer
very interested and about to leave," after listening to their music
return with more joy. Although he laments that due to lack of resources
they can only do two or three concerts a year.

Both performances and video clips are self produced and financed, says
the artist, who complains "there are still no companies that promote
Christian music." Nevertheless, they have managed to perform various
concerts and in August of last year filled the venue Avenida.

The young man's production ability was self-taught, and he counts on
spreading his music through social networks, such as Facebook and YouTube.

He does not discard that the Union will be televised and is thinking
about presenting his next music video, Jesus Fanatic, at next year's
Lucas Awards. DJ Misa is convinced that his audiovisuals "have the same
quality as the ones presented" and show a "very professional appearance."

As they reach the small screen, these young musicians are achieving a
special place in the national urban music, a place where the heavy
terrain of reggaeton manages to gain spirituality and compromise.

Translated by Chavely Garcia

Source: Faith Arrives to the Rhythm of Reggaeton / 14ymedio, Luz Escobar
– Translating Cuba -

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