Son Dos Alas

“Son Dos Alas” by Anónimo Consejo featuring Tego Calderón marks history as the first collaboration in the genre of hip-hop between Cuba and Puerto Rico. The objective of the song is to highlight race as transcendental to political boundaries between the two islands with the insinuation towards possibly all of Latin America.

In reference to Cuba, the Revolution is said to have encompassed issues of racial inequality, however racism remains a common theme of Cuban rap. Due to the U.S. embargo imposed on the nation, today it relies primarily on economic development via remittances and tourism. Ironically those who have family members in the US from whom Cubans receive remittances tend to be the lighter skinned population who fled the island during the inception of the Revolution. This racial dichotomy is also true of those individuals hired to work in the tourism industry, primarily the Cuban ‘mulattos.’ This has created new class identities defined by race and class in an ideally classless society.

In contrast Puerto Rico has hybridized racially as much if not more than Cuban society. It was in fact considered one of the ‘whitest’ islands of the colonial Caribbean as a layover from Spain to the Americas. Today the racial mix between Taino Native Americans, Africans and Europeans permeates Puerto Rican society. Influenced by the political nature of Puerto Rico’s commonwealth status, issues of race tend to get overlooked by concerns for nationalism.

Many agree that both islands are racially and culturally related. The words of Puerto Rican poet Lola Rodriguez de Tio, ‘Cuba y Puerto Rico son de un pájaro las dos alas.’ (Cuba and Puerto Rico make up the two wings of the same bird) confirm this sentiment. Previous musical collaborations between the two islands led to the global explosion of salsa. This unification between Calderón and Anónimo Consejo is the first collaboration of its kind between Puerto Rico and Cuba in the genre of hip-hop.

Tego Calderón and Anónimo Consejo: The genre of Latin hip-hop is relatively new within the development of the greater hip-hop culture. Hip-hop has by far exceeded any other musical genre’s global capacity. Its timely development coinciding with the development of the internet and the solidarity of a global youth culture have allowed hip-hop to blossom throughout the world at a magnitude previously unheard of for a musical and cultural genre. From a form of urban resistance and celebration of street culture to a commercial subculture, hip-hop is often viewed today as a global youth capitalist marketing tool.

Tego Calderón redefined hip-hop and reggaeton with the production of ‘El Abayarde’ in 2002 yielding an unprecedented Afro-Latin listening base and reifying issues that pertain to the contemporary diaspora in the Americas. He has become known as a ‘phenomenon’ by his capacity to add social, political and racial dimensions to the message of his music while keeping the music accessible and entertaining. He was the first reggaeton/Hip-Hop artists to sign to a major label (“Tego Calderón Signs With Atlantic ” Billboard, June 09, 2005; ) and is recognized as the pioneer for taking reggaeton to it global dimensions. (Tego Calderón site)

Anónimo Consejo formed nine years ago in Cojimar, along the outskirts of Havana, by Yosmel Sarrías Nápoles (Sekou Messiah) and Maigel Fernando Entenza Jaramillo (Kokino). Anónimo Consejo focuses their lyrics on issues of afro-nationalism, family and brotherhood. The group forms part of the Cuban Agency for Rap and has headlined the Habana Hip Hop festival for the past eight years. They have toured through Brazil, Venezuela and the United States, selling out the Apollo theatre in the year 2000. Today despite restricted access to resources for audio recordings or any type of national much less global distribution Anónimo Consejo continues to fill concerts to capacity in Cuba and is globally considered one of the most recognized Cuban rap groups.

I produced “Son Dos Alas” between December 2004 and January 2006. This included recording separate portions of the song in Havana, Cuba, San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Minneapolis, Minnesota. (See song specifications with lyrics for more detail). Initially I approached Tego with five tracks by Anónimo Consejo to familiarize him with their style. Once Tego confirmed his interest in the project, producer Paul Irrizary, a.k.a “Echo’ donated the beat co-produced between “Diesel” and himself in December 2004. I took the beat to Cuba in January of 2005 and recorded the introductory Columbia rhythm and vocals by Alfredo ‘Punta de Lanza’ Hernández as well as the Anónimo Consejo’s vocals, and scratching by DJ Racier at the Electro-Acústica Studios. I initially mixed a draft of these recordings in Minneapolis and sent them to Tego in Puerto Rico. Tego independently recorded his verse and returned the wav. files. At this time I had temporarily titled the song “Cuba y Puerto Rico Son.”

Tego at first considered putting the song in his upcoming “The Underdog” album as announced in Primera Hora on March 24, 2005. And so the song sat and awaited changes, mixing and incorporation of a new chorus that unanimously myself and all the artists involved felt was the weaker part of the song. The public announcement that Tego had recorded with Anónimo Consejo proved to offer controversy amongst certain crowds. As time passed and the song was still without a new chorus, Tego reconsidered its inclusion for his new album but gladly offered the inclusion of his verse for Anónimo Consejo’s next album and for the production of this Ph.D. thesis.

As the song awaited its destiny I continued to develop the chorus. Portions of the song were cut to restructure a new chorus by Sekou Messiah. Viviana Pintado from Cuba, currently residing in Minneapolis, composed and recorded a new vocal harmony for the chorus background with Andrew Turpening and later Joe Kurysh (J-1 Productions), each independently, to offer a layered series of vocals singing ‘Son Dos Alas’ and ‘Cuba, Puerto Rico’ which resulted in my naming the song “Son Dos Alas.”

The original song as “Cuba Y Puerto Rico Son” was mixed and arranged primarly by Jose ‘Hyde’ Cotto. Because of a geographical barriers and need to complete the song, I decided, ‘entre cojones y coraje’ to close myself off in the Emetrece Productions studios to make the new mix with the new chorus and produce the final touches on the song “Son Dos Alas.”

The introduction of this song is currently published as an interude in Tego’s recent album release, The Underdog/El Subestimado on Altantic Records.

“Son Dos Alas” serves as the audio component of the long-awaited Ph.D. Thesis, “Son Dos Alas : The Cultural Diffusion of Hip Hop in Cuba and Puerto Rico.” In the final stages of my fieldwork, I am completing a series of similar collaborations between hip-hop artists from Cuba and Puerto Rico.

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