Buena Vista in the Club: Rap, Reggaetón, and Revolution in Havana
In Buena Vista in the Club, Geoffrey Baker traces the trajectory of the Havana hip hop scene from the late 1980s to the present and analyzes its partial eclipse by reggaetón. While Cuban officials initially rejected rap as “the music of the enemy,” leading figures in the hip hop scene soon convinced certain cultural institutions to accept and then promote rap as part of Cuba’s national culture. Culminating in the creation of the state-run Cuban Rap Agency, this process of “nationalization” drew on the shared ideological roots of hip hop and the Cuban nation and the historical connections between Cubans and African Americans. At the same time, young Havana rappers used hip hop, the music of urban inequality par excellence, to critique the rapid changes occurring in Havana since the early 1990s, when the Soviet Union fell, its subsidy of Cuba ceased, and a tourism-based economy emerged. Baker considers the explosion of reggaetón in the early 2000s as a reflection of the “new materialism” that accompanied the influx of foreign consumer goods and cultural priorities into “sociocapitalist” Havana. Exploring the transnational dimensions of Cuba’s urban music, he examines how foreigners supported and documented Havana’s growing hip hop scene starting in the late 1990s and represented it in print and on film and CD. He argues that the discursive framing of Cuban rap played a crucial part in its success.
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activists African American Afro-Cuban Alamar Aldeanos Anónimo Consejo argue Ariel Fernández artists audience Black August bvsc Castro commercial concert conscious hip hop context critical critique Cuba Cuba’s Cuban cultural Cuban hip hop Cuban music Cuban rap Cuban rappers Cuban Revolution dance discourses discussed documentary economic film focus foreign freestyle genre Havana hip hop Havana scene hip hop culture hip hop festival hip hop scene hip hoppers hop in Havana hop’s ibid ideology institutions live Madriguera movement musicians national culture Nehanda Abiodun North American nostalgia nueva trova Obsesion official Orishas overseas Pablo Herrera Papá Humbertico peńas performance political popular music producers promote Puerto race racial rap groups rap scene rap’s rappers reality reggae reggaetón reguetoneros revolutionary Rodríguez Rojas role rumba scholars social socialist song space Special Period sphere street style timba tion told tourist transnational U.S. hip hop underlines urban Vedado venues York Zurbano