Thursday, April 12, 2007
Hip-Hop ain’t dead..yet or “Havana is just like Compton”
When Nas released his single, “Hip-Hop is Dead” it caused a stir of controversy in amongst every facet of the rap world. Created more as a critique, many took his words literally thought some might say that Hip-Hop is indeed dead and died several years ago. Well, the music LIVES! In the spirit of protest, social critique and political accountability felt in Grand Master Flash and the Furious Five’s 1982 classic tune, “The Message”, Cuban MC Aldo Rodriguez is laying tracks of revolution in Havana.
The 23-year old is not afraid to use the music to speak to his experience in the communist nation still under the rule of Fidel Castro. Rodriguez is engaging themes and issues that the government likely does not agree with. Speaking for the people, Rodriguez’s group, Los Aldeanos (“The Villagers”) is one of the most popular in Cuban underground hip-hop scene. They have tackled issues denouncing racism, police harassment, prostitution, and overall inequality, all continuing themes in contemporary American hip-hop.
“I’ve pointed out things that seems to be wrong to me,” Rodriguez mentions in a CNN interview. Explaining Los Aldeanos’ popularity, Rodriguez says, “They [the people] like to hear it because they identify with what they hear in the songs…it’s the truth…” In an effort to curb the voice of the music, the Cuban government created the Cuban Rap Agency in 2002. The government promotes and produces its own artists and you can rest assured lyrics found in Los Aldeanos’ track “Ya Nos Cansamos” (loosely translated We’re Fed Up”/”We’re Tired”) are not part of the governments rap agenda. Lyrics like:
“They’re always saying were all equal
But you tell me if the doorways are crumbling in the generals’ houses.
Of course all the hospitals in Cuba are free
But who do they treat better, the officers, or me?”
are part of the verse you will hear from Los Aldeanos and it sounds very similar to Melle Mel’s voice revealing American inequalities twenty-five years ago, “It’s like a jungle sometimes it makes me wonder how I keep from goin’ under.” Rodriguez and those like him in Havana are keeping the music alive, real, and relevant.
Posted by negrointellectual at 6:08 AM