Archive for the ‘ Son Dos Alas ’ Category


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 “MartíGómez , 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

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

A Century of Musical Bridges
Global Citizenship: Foreign vs. National
Between Political Poles: Copyrights & Intellectual Property

(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

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?]

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

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?


“Son Dos Alas”
“Sin Permiso”
Sangre Guerrera”

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)

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


Bitácora de una utopía posible

Reportaje sobre la exposición de Melisa «Emetrece» Riviere y las presentaciones en vivo de sus protagonistas
Domingo 24 de enero, «La Madriguera» – sede capitalina de la Asociación Hermanos Saíz («AHS») – CUBA

Por Melisa «Emetrece» Riviere y Jorge Enrique «Jorgito 761» Rodríguez
Fotos por David Berenger & Yurisma
© 2010 Emetrece Productions

Domingo 24 de enero. Cuba. La Habana. Invierno criollo.

«La Madriguera» – sede capitalina de la Asociación Hermanos Saíz («AHS») – abre sus espacios a la Exposición Video-Gráfica de Melisa «Emetrece» Riviere: cartografía cronológica y resumen de diez años de trabajo y colaboración con el Movimiento Hip Hop cubano, a través de su proyecto «Emetrece Productions».

El programa del encuentro – pactado para comenzar a las 7:00PM – consistiría en dos sesiones. La Exposición de los materiales audiovisuales, a cargo de Melisa «Emetrece», y la Presentación en Vivo de las agrupaciones que conforman el catálogo de acciones de «Emetrece Productions en Cuba», definidas en la realización de varios video clips y del proyecto doctoral de Melisa «Son Dos Alas



«La Madriguera» casi a punto de ebullición.

Por razones estratégicas, los coordinadores del encuentro (Jorge Enrique «Jorgito 761» Rodríguez y Melisa «Emetrece» Riviere), habían decidido no realizar promoción alguna en los medios de difusión masiva, excepto una nota circulada vía “mailing.” No obstante, la concurrencia en «La Madriguera» (con capacidad para 600 personas, a “full”) excedía ya esa cifra.

Melisa «Emetrece», a solas en una oficina, alistaba los últimos detalles del programa. «Jorgito 761» controlaba el acceso de cámaras profesionales (extranjeras y nacionales). DJ Raimel y DJ Neury – en la jefatura de las pistas para las presentaciones en vivo – calentaban la puesta en escena.



Primera sesión.
Todo listo. Imagen. Sonido. Cámaras. Luces.

Melisa «Emetrece» se adueña de la escena. El respetable público (sobre las 1000 personas aproximadas) le tributa respeto con un silencio que pudiera describirse: humilde y lindo. Despega.

La travesía de hora y media, además de aplausos, llegaría a conmocionar a muchos de los presentes a través de los fragmentos de un material filmado en 1997, casi un lujo histórico, seguido por las imágenes de la clausura del noveno Festival «Habana Hip-Hop» en Alamar y el primer video clip que realizara el proyecto «Emetrece Productions» en La Habana: “Morir por la Música es Vivir” de Yimi KonClaze, realizado el 2004. También de ese mismo año fueron los materiales “FabriKando”, montaje que alterna conciertos en vivo con entrevistas al proyecto La FabriK_, integrado en aquel entonces por los grupos Obsesión y Doble Filo. Se presentaron entre los videos clip que marcarían la trayectoria del proyecto «Emetrece Productions», “Protesto” de RCH -agrupación de la zona underground que más tarde se desintegraría- y “La Ley 5566” de Anónimo Consejo. Le siguieron resúmenes de las muestras de ese año con secuencias del tema “Más Fuego”, también de Anónimo Consejo, en las calles de Cojímar, contrastado con su concierto realizado en “La Tropical” poco después.

Del año 2005 se expusieron los fragmentos de un concierto en el “Teatro América” del grupo Obsesión presentando a Etián Brebajeman seguido por un metraje de la misma noche en la “Villa Panamericana” de Cojímar, titulado “En La Vía,” extracto de un concierto de Anónimo Consejo presentando a Explosión Suprema. Cerrando el año con el video clip “Los Pelos” de Obsesión.

Del 2007 se expuso “Sin Permiso” video clip de Intifada (Puerto Rico) y Los Aldeanos, que conforma el catálogo del proyecto «Son Dos Alas».
Del 2009 presento la primera edición de “Puños Arriba” con un fragmento de la presentación de Silvito el Libre y el tema “Mama y el rap”. Cerraría la Exposición Video-gráfica con dos anticipados videos clips: “Coge tu flow a La Aldea” de Los Aldeanos, y el lanzamiento mundial oficial en La Habana de “Sangre Guerrera” de Siete Nueve (Puerto Rico) y El Bi, también del catálogo «Son Dos Alas»



Breve comentario sobre los propósitos de la Exposición.

Re-alimentar a los artistas y sus públicos con las grabaciones audio-visuales de Melisa «Emetrece» en los últimos diez años, y agradecerles su incorporación a su trabajo doctoral y artístico.

Profundizar en la evolución de sus audio-visuales como productora, y a un mismo tiempo reflejar la relevancia de estas obras para sus protagonistas dentro del Movimiento de rap cubano en los últimos años que lleva trabajando con artistas agrupados en las instituciones, y con aquellos al margen de estas.

Distinguir el desarrollo artístico de los grupos que han participado en sus producciones.

Es decir, la Exposición Video-Gráfica de Melisa «Emetrece» no significaba contar / mostrar la historia completa del hip-hop en Cuba, sino exponer / devolver a sus protagonistas la historia que ella registro durante diez años de trabajo y colaboración, y que para ser justos, ello conforma un patrimonio y un legado invaluable para el Movimiento en Cuba.

El orden cronológico tanto de la exposición de los materiales audiovisuales, como de las presentaciones en vivo, respondía a una lógica para vislumbrar el desarrollo del Movimiento en cual se involucró «Emetrece Productions» a través de la última década.



Pausa necesaria para la transición. DJ Raimel y DJ Neury ambientan el delirio que la presentación de Melisa «Emetrece» ha generado en la concurrencia. La escena es pura fiebre. En este punto nos llega un dato verificado. La concurrencia ronda las 1200 personas, muchas de ellas no caben dentro del local.

Un reajuste en el programa.

Obsesión fue el único grupo cuyo trabajo videográfico se expuso esta noche que nunca respondió a la invitación. Melisa «Emetrece» interpreta el “silencio” como “mucho ruido en el sistema,” ya que uno de sus integrantes dirige la institución más valiosa del Movimiento, y que recibiera durante años donaciones y grabaciones a través del proyecto «Emetrece Productions». Melisa «Emetrece» quita al grupo del borrador.

El bajista del grupo Doble Filo recibe una llamada personal y deber de irse lo antes posible, es necesario intercambiar el orden de las presentaciones.

Tres camarógrafos y dos fotógrafos se oficializan.

Se completa el guión. Cada grupo tendrá 20 minutos en escena.



La poesía de Yimi KonClaze levanta el telón. De aquí en adelante todo sería cuesta arriba. Flow sobre flow. Cuba, La Habana, «La Madriguera» encendida. Una efervescencia lírica sostenida por Doble Filo, Silvito El Libre, Explosión Suprema, Anónimo Consejo, para alcanzar su clímax y locura con el grupo de cierre, Los Aldeanos.

El público se dejó llevar cuando Doble Filo tomó el escenario con la banda que los ha acompañado en su nueva etapa de trabajo. Compuesta de bajo, guitarra y batería, esta banda redimensiona los temas de su repertorio, incluido en su nuevo disco en producción “Despierta”. Entre temas “¿Por qué tu rapeas?” y “Déjate guiar por la luz”, los Doble Filo recordaron las contribuciones del proyecto «Emetrece Productions» para su propia trayectoria. Irónicamente justo al comenzar su tema más popular del momento (ganador del mejor video clip en los Premio Lucas en el 2008), “¿Qué tú te crees?”, sucede un desacuerdo detrás del telón entre el compañero-agente Michael Oramas de Jr. Clan y Melisa «Emetrece».


El compañero-agente Michael aterrizó al evento, desde California donde reside ahora, insistiendo que “como fundador” del Movimiento, él cantaría una canción. Melisa «Emetrece», intenta explicarle el propósito de las presentaciones, el contexto del evento, los muchos ojos presente. Pero el compañero-agente Michael escoge obviar el diálogo, dejando claro que él – sin duda y por encima de cualquier circunstancia – cantaría una canción.

Durante los últimos dos años, el trabajo de «Emetrece Productions» en Cuba ha sido “asediado” de manera abiertamente hostil por el simple hecho de “violar” las “medidas” que «Washington» impone a la isla. Quizás se podría atribuir a la curiosidad creada sobre el desarrollo de «Emetrece Productions» como editorial internacional de rap cubano. Quizás fue su marcada lealtad a «La Aldea» cuando le tocaba a El Bi viajar para «La Batalla de Los Gallos». Quizás fue nada mas que una falta de conocimiento con respeto a ciertos protocolos para balancear su trabajo entre el hip-hop institucionalizado y el que existe al margen de las instituciones. Realmente, no es claro qué resortes provocaron esta hostilidad. Hostilidad que se había agudizado en el transcurso del año 2009, ante la cual se hizo imprescindible la obligación, el derecho y el deber, de replicar públicamente el trabajo del proyecto «Emetrece Productions» incluyendo una explicación de sus intenciones históricos, etno-musicales, y aun políticos.

En nuestro poder teníamos pruebas concretas de que la expo sería saboteada por dos motivos:
1) la desacreditación de Melisa «Emetrece» Riviere
2) la malogración de la presentación de «Los Aldeanos»

La insistencia bruta e ignorante del compañero-agente Michael sembró curiosidad respecto a si fuese él una tergiversación del esperado atentado.


Doble Filo consume sus 20 minutos. Llega Silvito El Libre con el tema “Más Allá” de su disco El PacienT. El estilo de ‘trovador’ del rap de Silvito combina una manera de relatar cuentos elaborados, sin perder la complejidad de su construcción lirical y su carismático flow. Lo cual vislumbró esta noche con los temas “Mi Bicicleta” y “Agua al PCSito.”

Etián Brebajeman e Isaac representaron por Explosión Suprema, abriendo con un reconocimiento a la ausencia de Mahoma y MikiFlow, nombrados más temprano en la noche dentro de las imágenes de la Exposición Video-gráfica. Recuerdan temas viejos con una versión improvisada de “Sandunguera” mezclado con temas nuevos del disco de Etián “PocoBonito” como “No voy a trabajar na’”. Etián y Isaac incorporan al público pidiendo un pie forzado, destapando una improvisación inesperada con un fanático en la audiencia. Isaac y Etián cierran y ceden el micrófono.

El compañero-agente Michael y Jean Pierre (Junpi) de Jr. Clan se montan desesperadamente al escenario, sin luz, ni audio, desorientando al ingeniero de sonido y a DJ Raimel. El público, compuesto mayormente por caras de la nueva escuela, se llena de cierta confusión comunal. Michael declara ser “el grupo más censurado en la historia del hip-hop cubano,” pero la audiencia no le hace caso, y lo quitan del escenario gritando “La Aldea, La Aldea, La Aldea.”

Anónimo Consejo sutilmente desvían la confusión. Toman toda la energía del público con la misma fuerza con la cual nos han mal criado por los últimos trece años. Sekou y Kokino han concebido una sincronización que los ha marcado como dueto de excelencia. Presentaron temas de su disco nuevo “Desorden Público”, abriendo con el tema “Revolucionario.” El publico se enciende con “Mañana será mejor,” “Militantes” y su cierre con el tema titular del disco, “Desorden Publico.” El seguidor de Anónimo Consejo percibió esta noche una nueva madurez de su lírica, flow y composición.

Acercándose a la media noche El Aldeano y El Bi toman el escenario. De escenografía aparecen todos los exponentes del evento alrededor de la tarima. Al frente se celebraba una masa humana que superaba la cifra de 1500. Los Aldeanos – quienes para buena parte del público fueron su única motivación de asistir – toman el escenario, después de casi un año sin tener un espectáculo en La Habana.

Dejando claro que están ‘más fuertes que nunca’, rompen con una melodía variada que incluía desde “Niñito cubano” y “La naranja se picó,” hasta temas clásicos como “Lalalala,” “A Veces,” “Shao Khan” y “Mi filosofía”. El Bi presentó “Idbaee” y un corto de “Esto es con todos” de su disco por salir “Viva Cuba Libre”, uniéndose de nuevo con El Aldeano para hacer temas del repertorio nuevo incluyendo “Los Asesinos” y “NaNaNaNa.” Intercalaron par de improvisaciones, entre cual insertaron cortos de los temas titulares de su tercer décimo disco “El Atropello” y “Pasa el borrador.” Cerraron con el tema nuevo “H1N1” recordando públicamente a la rapera Gabylonia de Venezuela que aparece en el tema original e invitando a Silvito El Libre, y Charly MuchaRima a compartir en la clausura.



Momento inolvidable. El público, con una disciplina trascendental desde el principio, abandona la sede muy a su pesar. Muchos se acercaron a los artistas. Abrazos. Autógrafos. Proposiciones de proyectos nuevos. Números telefónicos intercambiados.

Los que conocen la trayectoria de «Emetrece» se acercaron a Melisa para agradecerle una vez más su lealtad al Movimiento y el encuentro magistral de esa noche. Los que la conocieron este domingo, para expresarle el agradecimiento de haber propiciado uno de los encuentros más profundos con el hip-hop en los últimos años. Nos devolvió el mundo diez años atrás… quizá cuando todo era impulso y ganas, y que ahora es, certeza y convicción de un propósito al que ha sido leal, asumiendo, a contracorriente, los riesgos, las incomprensiones.

Recordar y revistar lo desandado es también un acto de reafirmación. Ojalá esta bitácora de una utopía posible no sea exclusiva en la historia, y podamos volver a encontrarnos. Ojalá

Por Melisa «Emetrece» Riviere y Jorge Enrique «Jorgito 761» Rodríguez
Fotos por David Berenger & Yurisma
© 2010 Emetrece Productions, Inc.

Sin Permiso

“Sin Permiso”
Los Aldeanos & Intifada
Musical composition by Yallzee
Engineered by Papá Humbertico & Emetrece
Produced by M.Rivière

Los Aldeanos are one of the leading rap groups in Cuba today. They are also one of the more controversial ones. Representing a voice of the people and recognized for their critical lyrics,Los Aldeanos are esteemed by many Cubans for ‘telling it like it is.’ Los Aldeanos respond to their approach as constructive criticism, saying they love Cuba and wouldm’t consider leaving, only to tour and return, but there are problems in Cuba that cannot be overlooked and they choose to do it through hip-hop.

Their recent exposure on Univision last summer and a prime NY Times article titled “Cuba’s Rap Vanguard Reaches Beyond the Party Line” peaked a curiosity for the group from Cuban’s outside of Cuba, and Los Aldeanos began receiving more international attention than many Cuban Agency for Rap sponsored artists. Adding to the hype, El Bian won the Red Bull freestyle battle of the year last October 2007 – putting them simpultaniously on international hip-hop and political radars.

Los Aldeanos is a Cuban hip-hop duo that got their start in 2003. As friends they would spend days and nights non-stop writing together – but with little opportunity to record. They paired up with emcee, songwriter and producer Papa Humbertico who runs Real 70 Studios out of his home. Slowly they started getting their songs recorded and their message heard. Today, Los Aldeanos do not belong to the Cuban Agency for Rap, however they are invited guests for Agency symposiums, concerts and tours.

My production work with Aldo began through a personal/professional friendship with his, at the time wife – Danay, an amazing hip-hop, r&b, jazz and soul vocalist. Just as the second track on the Ph.D., “Guasabara” was beginning to get attention in Havana, I began to talk with Aldo about doing a third collaborative song that would include them. Many Cuban rappers would have been delighted to be selected for this project, and according to many fans and colleagues, including Los Aldeanos in the project was insinuated as a ‘risky’ choice. First off they are not integral to the Cuban Agency for Rap, which in Cubait is assumed that such a high profile international collaboration would be limited to Agency artists, second, their highly charged critical lyrics guaranteed polarized responses.

We discussed the possibility of the collaboration for about six months and I facilitated a series of conference calls between Luis Diaz of Intifada and Aldo to decide on the theme. Luis gave me Yallzee’s beat in Puerto Rico in April of 2007. I sent the beat to Aldo in Cuba via a professor at the University of Madrid who sent the package to Cuba. Aldo received the beat and both him and El Bian wrote their portion of the lyrics, and waited for me to get to Havana to record. In July of 2007 I arrived in Havana and we coincided the recording of the track with my participation in the 3rd Simposio de Hip-Hop Cubano.

I wanted to keep as much of the raw underground sound Los Aldeanos have in their music consistent for this track. Since they usually record at Real 70 studios, it only seemed appropriate to get Papa Humbertico involved. Humbertico has been a significant part of the hip-hop movement of Havana for years, to work with him on this track is an added bonus. Up until this adventure recording at Real 70, I had only heard about how “far” Papa Humbertico’s house is with respect to inner city Havana. Little did I know…

On the day we set out to record at Papa Humbertic’s I met up with Aldo on Infanta & Carlos III. We caught a car to Old Havana where we met up with El Bian. The summer was hot and every bus that could take us out to Humbertico’s home was packed beyond capacity of beach goers to the Playas del Este. We got a car for a decent 80 pesos or nearly $4. As we passed Alamar I realized this wasn’t that close, but far? Obviously in a car it didn’t seem all that terrible – unless this was a ‘day trip,’ everyday, by bus or camello, then it began to seem far. And when we arrived, the walk began. Aldo and El Bian took turns carring the back pack with recording equipment and the video camera. Not a single car passed by on the walk up, just a few passed down. We must have started the walk around 10am, and we walked, and walked. In Aldo’s words, they don’t even have a sun like this in the dessert anymore, only here in Cuba.’ For those who know what I am talking about – we passed to busts of Marti on the way…. By the time we were half way there the three of us had drank all the water we broughtthe morning sun beating down, and just when the thought actually crossed my mind, ‘if we don’t get there soon…’ in a faint mind state. Aldo gasped out – we’re here.’ Up to my right was casa #70 de la calle Real en Guanabacoa, also known as Real 70 Studios.

Papa Humbertico had hosted a party the night before and remnants of party goes were still flowing out of the house by the time we arrived at 11:30am. A few of which waved at us on the walk up from the only two trucks heading down the road as we walked up. Screeming – “Your late but there is still some people there!”

It took a little while to get into the studio booth, or, should I say, build up the studio booth. Humbertico works on a PC, with a very simple hand held vocal mic. If one always thinks of producers as engineers and so many here in the US aren’t even close to being a novice, well Humbertico is an wizard. With the basic equipment he uses and creative efforts to get some quality sound, the man makes magic. Humbertico recorded Aldo and El Bian’s vocals throughout the afternoon. He bounced all the vocal files and saved the project in three formats to make sure we would have compatibility due to software and hardware differences.

I left Real 70 Studios with my promise to come back and work further with Papa Humbertico. There was a charm to Real 70 that merits many future collaborations. We took three busses back to Havana, El Bian and Aldo walked back to Inesitas solar with me and we listed to the bounced reference. I could tell by their faces, they were very pleased.

Immediately in August back in the Emetrece Productions Studio in Minneapolis I began compressing vocals and cutting up the track to make a new mix based on the previous reference, yet incorporating various highlights and moving around audio takes that were recorded as filler. Drops from the end of the song were moved to the front, the middle highlights were moved to the chorus, etc. At this phase the song took on the title ‘Despierta America.’ It wasn’t until just before recording with Luis that I spliced the ending which said ‘Asi se penso, y asi se hizo, la verdad no se dice con permiso’ and threw it to the front as the intro of the song. Immediately immediately without having to think twice about it I gave it the title ‘Sin Permiso.’ The lyrics of the chorus stating ‘From our streets to the ntire galaxy’ sparked the idea of making it sound like the cong was being tuned in from an intergalactic radio.

I sent Intifada the reference and Luis began writing. It took a series of trips to record Luis. The first recording was ‘nice’ but Luis was uncomfortable with his flow style. In Puerto Rico I set up my laptop, protools m-box and a microphone in the headquarter apartments of Emetrece Productions/Puerto Rico. Its a very underground set up – but it works, and in comparison to the set ups in Havana, it is state of the art….. I recorded three different sessions with Luis. yielding seven version of the song – using different parts of his vocals on the final version until we were both content.

I produced the final mix for ‘Sin Permiso’ back in Minneapolis at the Emetrece Productions studio. The song makes up the third track of my Ph.D. thesis “Son Dos Alas: The Cultural Production of Hip-Hop in Cuba and Puerto Rico” soon to be defended in 2008 and pending publication.



During the recording of Son Dos Alas, a second recording with a beat by Echo was in the works. This production was intended as a second collaborative song between Magia and Eddie Dee. Magia, from the rap group Obsesión, recorded her vocals for the proposed collaboration during the same session when Anónimo Consejo, Alfredo Hernandez, and DJ Racier recorded with me at the Electro-Acústica studios for Son Dos Alas.

However the proposed Eddie Dee & Magia track failed to blossom. Magia preferred an altered tempo to the beat therefore creating a need for alterations. Despite being willfully involved and enthusiastic about recording with Magia, Eddie was occupied with other projects, making it hard to formally develop their collaboration.

Almost a year later talking with Dominican hip-hop emcee from Puerto Rico, Siete Nueve, he brought up his interest in recording with Magia. But different than Son Dos Alas, he wanted to go to Cuba. The U.S. embargo prohibits the travel of US citizens to Cuba, with restricted exceptions made for families, and educational or religious endeavours. Artists may apply for a Specific License for travel to Cuba, travel through an authorized licensee, or defend their right to use the General License for travel to Cuba. Knowing that each of these processes would take its time, with Magia eager still to record with an emcee from Puerto Rico as part of this thesis project, and eddie ‘unavailable’ – the opportunity was too attainable to let go. Siete Nueve was recording the song “Güasabara” (title mean war in the native Taino language) containing a clear message against war for his album in progess (Trabuco, released 2007). He selected this track for Magia and gave me his draft vocals with the background track produced by Nuff Ced.

In July of 2006 – during my trip for the 2nd Annual Hip-Hop Symposium in Havana put on by La Fabri K, the Cuban Agency for Rap and the Hermanos Saíz Association – Magia, and Alexey (Obsesión) recorded their vocal tracks in the studio they have built at home. They took turns engineering each other’s tracks while I filmed their interaction managing the roles between emcees, producers and spouses.

As an integral part of my Ph.D. fieldwork “Son Dos Alas: The Cultural Diffusion of Hip-Hop in Cuba and Puerto Rico,” video and audio recordings are used not only as a form of archiving, documenting and disseminating data, but also as a methodology in and of themselves. By allowing artists to interpret and respond to the research questions through visual art, lyrics, dance performance, and musicality (hip-hop), I create a space for them to dialogue with each other through the research process. Due to this unique research methodology, “Güasabara” and “Son Dos Alas” are the first collaborations ever between Cuba and Puerto Rico in the genre of hip-hop. Son Dos Alas is the first recorded hip-hop collaboration, Güsabara is the first fully published track between the islands (Güasabara published in Siete Nueve “Trabuco,” 2007 // 35sec introductory portion of Son Dos Alas published as “Son Dos Alas” in Calderón, Tego. The Undersog/El Subestimado, Jiggiri/Atlantic Records, 2006).

I returned to Minneapolis where I mixed the files from Magia and Alexey. Upon receipt by Siete Nueve JKO Dox engineered the final mix with not only Siete Nueve’s vocals but also a series of call ins and recordings from various artists accross Latin America who speak out against the war or in favor of the song. Siete Nueve published the final track on his recent release “Trabuco.”

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.