Clueless at Lehigh

Since I’m basically clueless about hip-hop and reggaeton, as in how they are related, I’ve been doing a little research. It is in this context that I stumbled upon this article on the subject. Fair enough, as far as the beginning goes, but then…..
Interestingly, the Cuban hip-hop movement began through that government’s unique approach to culture. Says Saunders, ”The Cuban government has a strong leftist segment that is adamant about freedom of speech and the importance of culture and art. Cuba’s art education system is highly respected throughout the Americas. Art is decentralized at the local level — every neighborhood has a ‘casa cultura’ where all materials needed to do a community art program are provided.”
”This encourages independent artists to do their work through their local ‘casa cultura,”’ continues Saunders. ”So you can actually disagree with the government, yet still be provided with amplifiers, microphones and a space to perform. The equipment might not be the best quality, but you’ll still get it. Compare this to the poor inner-city neighborhoods of the United States — those kids have no place to go, no place to learn art or anyone to teach them to think critically.”

So is quoted one Tanya Saunders, a pre-doctoral fellow in Africana Studies at Lehigh University. Where does one start in such a case? Freedom of speech? The comparison to the American inner-city? I’m reminded of something they used to assign in college sociology classes, “The Body Ritual of the Nacirema,” in order to warn all is not what seems in field study. I guess they don’t do that anymore. Maybe they should.

9 thoughts on “Clueless at Lehigh”

  1. you can start by calling what she wrote a lie,a big lie…
    whoever plays,sings o what have you inside the regime,from the “barrios” up to the “famous ones” ,if they want to play,if they want to sing,they should,they have and they ought to be accepted by the censorship of the regime…if they play something against the regime,they dont play…they don’t get any instruments from the goverment,maybe a kick in the ass,the next time they want to play…that’s all…

  2. A great composer I knew entered a competition in communist cuba once. His work lost out to a mediocre work submitted by someone called “Ode to Lenin”.

  3. Complete hogwash. I mean, shockingly complete hogwash. Absolutely flies in the face of everything I have ever experienced in Cuba in the last decade.
    While it is true that Cuban culture is an inherently artistic one. There is no real freedom of expression. I would point the author to a recently filmed documentary titled “Cuba Rebelion.” Gorki Carrasco, of the Cuban punk rock band, “Porno Para Ricardo,” would have more than a few words to say to this individual. A trailer for the film (which is quite well produced) can be found here:

  4. Of course that is bunk, so we should forget it now teell us about:
    “The Body Ritual of the Nacirema”

  5. Here is the link to the project that Ms. Saunders has put together at Lehigh University, located a few miles from where I live. I will be there this weekend with bells on. Yo.
    I will report back after my mission is accomplished.

  6. I am going to be honest; sometimes when you hear the liberal spin when it comes to Cuba they at least do somewhat of an effort to try to pass on that info as legitimate. This could NOT be farther from the truth. As someone who has worked with and developed friendships these Cuban rappers when they come to the United States, regardless of where they live (e.g. Miki Flow from famed group Explosion Suprema, who lives in Washington D.C.; Lyoni de Cuba, who lives in Oakland; etc.) These guys tell stories of how they are not allowed to certain things or say certain things. I suggest watching the documentary “Guerrilla Radio: The Hip Hop Struggle Under Castro” and listening to the song “Protestando” by Los Aldeanos. This person really did not even try to spin the issue. It was just said outright and wrong. Oh, the equipment in the inner city in the US is much better than what they have in Cuba. A lot of the equipment in the inner city can be donated and is actually available. Many DJs that come from the inner city in the US go to mom-and-pop stores and buy cheap products, but they are basic and. As someone who works with sound, being a DJ, it is rare to see people using turntables, modern mixers, etc. in Cuba. Most of the time, these things are not even available for purchase in Cuba no matter how much money someone has. Usually what happens is a typical McGuyver-type rig from an enormous old stereo CD player to a crappy amplifier. This person clearly has no idea what they are talking about and has only interacted with very few rappers, if any.

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