Friday, April 08, 2005

Hip hop con Cubanismo

First we grabbed a quick bite to eat at Pizza Express -- delicious Giardiniera pizza with leeks, petit pois, peperonata, mushrooms, olives and tomatoes; and spicy American pizza with lots of pepperoni -- then we walked to the Festival Hall for a scorching night of Cuban hip hop, courtesy of Orishas.

My knowledge of Cuban music is lamentably weak -- believing that it has fossilised during the economic blockade into endless varieties of easy-listening Buena Vista Social Clubs. But thankfully Orishas have not been strangulated by poverty or tradition: they draw on traditional Latin sounds such as son, rumba and guaguanco, to add piquancy to their distinctly urban hip hop beats. The result is a dynamite sound assessible to both the Buena Vista "oldies" and the hip hop "headz". They obviously live up to the meaning of their name: Orishas are Yoruban guardian spirits who traverse two worlds.

Tonight, Orishas' explosive music combined with an electrifying performance to produce an exhilerating evening and a desperate desire to hear and see more.

Related links:

+ Orishas: Gods in two worlds. "Still many people say, 'Yeah, Orishas is great but it's not real Cuban music'. We say it's normal, Orishas is Cuban music - but it's evolution. Cuban music isn't only Compay Segundo, no. It's the roots for my country, the roots for my music, but many many people like us are coming to fuse ragga with traditional music, ska with traditional music you know. And it's still Cuban."

+ The elements of revolution: The spirit of hip hop thrives in Cuba. "A lack of access to equipment combined with a disorganised market for the music has stumped many Cuban artists. Although strides have been made, there is only so much that can be done while living under a 40-year-old economic blockade. Graffiti artists live without spray cans. Breakers live without sneakers. MCs don't have notebooks and DJs have only one turntable and barely any vinyl. Yet no matter how sparse these tools might be, hip-hop is alive inside of them. Their expression won't be slowed down by want."

No comments: