SON DOS ALAS: A MULTIMEDIA ETHNOGRAPHY OF HIP-HOP BETWEEN CUBA AND PUERTO RICO
Son Dos Alas: A Multimedia Ethnography of Hip-Hop Between Cuba and Puerto Rico
by Melisa Riviere
In memory of Lola Rodriguez de Tío, whose poetry and activism served as a blueprint for Son Dos Alas.
Dedicated to Nestor Rivière and Eugene Fabes
Son Dos Alas is thanks to the inspiration and collaboration provided by:
Yrak Saenz, who in 2004 discussed with me the possibility of using media as a place to meet his counterpart from Puerto Rico.
Alex Cruz and all of Time Machine Squad for believing in me, for being “real” hip-hop, and for threading many of the networks upon which my fieldwork blossomed.
All the rappers, musical composers, artists, producers, friends and hosts who made this project possible especially Freddy “Siete Nueve” Abreu, Maigel “Kokino” Entenza, Yosmel “Sekou” Sarrias, Tego Calderón, Edgar González, Inesita Escobar, Humberto “Papá Humbertico” Cabrera, Aldo “El Aldeano” Rodríguez, Bian “El B” Rodríguez, Luis Díaz, Paul “Echo” Irizarry, Alfredo “Punta de Lanza” Hernández, DJ Rasiel Portilla, Yimi Konclaze, Christian “Nuff Ced” Carrion, Glidden “Yallzee” Quiñones, Andres “Velcro” Ramos, Soandry Del Rio, Danay Suarez, Silvito Rodríguez, Dayessy López, Ades Baquero, Alexy “Pelón” Cantero Pérez, Edgar Matta, Carlos “Ras Melito” Cantero Pérez, Reynor “Mahoma” Hernández, Michel “MikiFlow” Hermida, Luis Armando “Vico C” Lozada, Etian “Brebajeman” Arnau Lizaire, Eric “Martí” Gómez , Jose “Hyde” Cotto, RCH (Raíces Centro Habaneras), Eddie “Dee” Avila, Magia López, Alexey “El Tipo Este” Rodríguez, Viviana Pintado, DJ Vaamas, Pablo Herrera, Yelandy Blaya, DJ Boris, Charly “MuchaRima” Bravo Marrero, Raudel “S4dron” Collazo, Hermes Ayala, Sahily Borrero, Jorge Rodríguez, Raudel Rojas, MarcosCimarron, Eric Vázquez, Joe Kurysh, Will Ways, Andrew Turpening, Richie “In the House” Villanueva, Ariel “DJ Asho” Fernández, Raquel Rivera, Geoff Baker, ChinoNyno, El Adversario, Tek One, Papo Record, Gabo, Roberto “El Guajiro” Carballo, Cristianne “Lucha” Dugan, Hilda Landrove, William Figueroa, Ludmila Romero, Susana García, Rodolfo Rensoli, Roberto Zurbano, Alpidio Alonso, Fernando Rojas, Luis Morlotte and my “Guerreinas” Nehanda Abiodun & Ana “Rokafella” García. Plus a special appreciation to Autumn Compton, T-Rose Angelopolous, Raudemar Hernández Abreu, Gloria Rivera, Verónica Ochoa , Richy Rivera, Tamara Caban-Ramirez, Mami Tami, Banjo y Jeff Fontanez, Bimbo Diaz, B-Girl Be, la Gitana Ye’Midjah, la Subcomandante Ma’Yi, nuestros ancestros, and all the “sin nombres.”
The dissertation writing and data analysis was thanks to the academic guidance provided by Frank Miller, August Nimtz, Karen Ho and David Valentine. The research and writing is thanks to the support, advice and editing help from Marisa Riviere and Esther Fabes.
Son Dos Alas was made possible thanks to the financial support, visas, licenses, and clearances from: the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Dissertation Fellowship; the University of Minnesota Humanities Institute Summer Graduate Fellowship; the College of Liberal Arts: Office of the Dean; the Graduate Research Partnership Program; the Department of Anthropology Block Grant funding; the Office of International Programs at the University of Minnesota; the Department of the Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control; el Instituto Cubano de Arte e Industria Cinematografica; la Asociación Hermanos Saíz; la Agencia Cubana de Rap; el Instituto Cubano de la Música; and La Madriguera.
Son Dos Alas (They are Two Wings)
From New York to Rio, from Nairobi to Tokyo, hip-hop, more than any other musical genre or youth culture, has permeated nations, cultures and languages worldwide. Hip-hop emerged from race and class rebellions during the New York City fiscal crises of the 1970’s. It flourished under grim conditions as a vibrant expression of youthful exuberance used to overcome repression, marginality, discrimination and hardship. I concentrated my research on the globalization of hip-hop in Cuba and Puerto Rico because each island showcases a unique and thriving rap scene yet holds contrasting cultural and economic contexts. Although Cuba and Puerto Rico share common colonial histories, today they hold polarized relationships with the United States, the birthplace of hip-hop. In the case of Cuba the U.S. embargo is older than hip-hop, offering a case of complete exclusion from direct influences. In contrast, Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory and thereby intimately linked to American art movements, youth genres, production resources, and market interests.
The dissertation argues that youth utilize hip-hop to express their individual local struggles to unite with each other between Cuba and Puerto Rico as “world citizens,” in order to belong to a global majority when they are considered local minorities. Through multimedia production, local artists globalize their repertoires despite geographic, economic or political restrictions. The innovative fieldwork methodology herein termed Ethnographic Production proposes the use of audiovisual media to create a contemporary technological “place” in which youth transcend boundaries to create virtual dialogues through their repertoires in order to overcome isolation between each other. This methodology proposes that the key site for anthropological inquiry is not necessarily to be “discovered” or “located,” as traditional disciplinary expectations may assume, rather it can also be “created.” As a result, the dissertation demonstrates how the experiences rappers articulated within the media modified their everyday behavior and insinuated a sense of responsibility to each other. This approach differs from traditional uses of media in anthropology used as a form of documentation or dissemination of fieldwork data.
Son Dos Alas assesses how musical repertoires transcend localized contexts between the islands and why access to audiovisual recording and reproductive technology has given youth the tools to (re)produce hip-hop. The research data, consisting of collaborative songs between rappers from each location, reveals that it is through value systems and common civil rights struggles, more so than strictly the four elements of hip-hop (rap, break dance, turntablism and visual art), that youth relate to one another and their global audiences.
Son Dos Alas
Table of Contents
CHAPTER 1 – SON DOS ALAS (THEY ARE TWO WINGS): AN INTRODUCTION (1)
Cuba y Puerto Rico Son [Cuba and Puerto Rico Are]
From Phases to Phrases
A Place Called Media
Participant/Observer, Producer/Scholar, or Activist/Anthropologist?
The Politics of Art, or the Art of Politics?
Organizing the Dissertation
CHAPTER 2 – A CARIBBEAN SOUNDSCAPE: CHALLENGING A MYTH (48)
A Century of Musical Bridges
Global Citizenship: Foreign vs. National
Between Political Poles: Copyrights & Intellectual Property
CHAPTER 3 – BETWEEN (PLAY) AND (REWIND): MEDIA, MARGINS & (RE)PRODUCTIVE TECHNOLOGY (80)
(Stop): the Moment and the Movement
(Play): The Reproduction of Authenticity
(Rewind): Migration, Afro-Latinism and Military Technology
(Pause): Creolization of Reggae, Birth of the Dub and Origins of Reggaespañol
(Fast Forward): Urban, Sonic and Production Spaces
(Record): Ethnographic Production
CHAPTER 4 – REPERTOIRE & ROTATION: MUSIC AS CONTACT ZONE (155)
Routes Forged Between Borders, Zones and Scapes
Cuba-Hop: Something a Little Less Traditional than Son
Sin Permiso [Without Permission]
La Aldea [The Village]
¿Y Mi Cuba Donde Esta? [And Where is My Cuba?]
CHAPTER 5 – RITES OF RHYME: THE DEVELOPMENTAL PHASES OF RAP (186)
Overview of Phases: from “Keeping it Real” to “Bling Bling”
Homogenized Dissimilarity: A Microscopic View
United States of America: The Original Phase III
Puerto Rico: Mimicking Phase III, Searches, Seizures, and the Birth of Reggaetón
Cuba: A “New” Phase III, The Association, The Agency and the Birth of Cubatón
The Disjuncture of Phases Between Cuba and Puerto Rico
CHAPTER 6 – THE BRIDGE: “SON DOS ALAS,” “GUASÁBARA,” “SIN PERMISO,” & “SANGRE GUERRERA” (241)
Hypothesis + Results ≠ Global Hip-Hop Movement
Ethnographic Production: The Matrices
Methodology Versus Evidence
“Son Dos Alas” – Anónimo Consejo & Tego Calderón (2004 – 2006)
The Brotherhood of Race
Getting it Done
Structure and Composition
“Guasábara” – Siete Nueve & Magia Emcee (2006 – 2007)
Against the War
Getting it Done
Structure and Composition
“Sin Permiso” – Los Aldeanos & Intifada (2007 – 2008)
Power to the People
Getting it Done
Composition and Structure
Visual Matrix: Sin Permiso
“Sangre Guerrera” – El B & Siete Nueve (2009 – 2010)
We are Warriors
Getting it Done
Composition and Structure
Visual Matrix: Sangre Guerrera
The Values of Unity
Who Reads a Dissertation?
CHAPTER 7 – SON DOS ALAS (THEY ARE TWO WINGS): A CONCLUSION (370)
APPENDIX A: SON DOS ALAS SONG LYRICS IN SPANISH AND ENGLISH (380)
“Son Dos Alas”
APPENDIX B: CD OF MUSICAL PRODUCTIONS / SONGS (402)
1. “Son Dos Alas” (They Are Two Wings)
2. “Guasábara” (Indigenous Taino word for War)
3. “Sin Permiso” (Without Permission)
4. “Sangre Guerrera” (Warrior Blood)
APPENDIX C: DVD OF MUSIC VIDEOS (403)
1. “Morir por la Musica es Vivir” (To Die for Music is to Live) – Yimi Konclaze
2. “La Ley 5566” (The Law 5566) – Anónimo Consejo
3. “Protesto” (I Protest) – RCH
4. “Melodia” (Melody) – MC Hyde
5. “Los Pelos” (The Hairs) – Obsesión
6. “Sin Permiso” (Without Permission) – Los ALdeanos & Intifada
7. “Coge tu Flow a La Aldea” (Get Your Flow ala Aldea) – Los Aldeanos
8. “Sangre Guerrera” (Warrior Blood) – El B & Siete Nueve
SON DOS ALAS – BIBLIOGRAPHY (412)