The latest new face of Cuban hip-hop: Golpe Seko.
One of the first things to learn about Cuba is that, for most of the past 50 years, there was no recording industry.
The Cuban government nationalized the existing industry in 1964. Since then, it has more or less taken control of a studio complex that I visited in 2016, called the Empresa DE grabacion y Ediciones Musicales.
Another thing you need to know is that hip-hop music arrived at the same time as the collapse of the Soviet union and withdrew its economic support for Cuba in the early 1990s. What followed was a so-called “el nino crisis” or “special period”, a period filled with shortages of food and medicine. The early Cuban hip-hop instinct taps into the intersection of hip-hop beats and African Cuban rhythms, while the lyrics mask a shortage of government.
Now, as in the rest of the world, a whole generation of Cuba has been hip hop. Guam music is one example of these two histories. It claims to be Cuba’s first independent “city” music record label, and its first hip-hop distribution is about to enter the world.
The list was first made up by the lead singer Yisi Calibre and musician Darwin’s independent musicians, Golpe Seko. They are from Santiago, Cuba, in the eastern corner of Jamaica, in the east, in Haiti. These countries are important cultural reference points for the inhabitants of this part of Cuba. Golpe Seko’s music is a fascinating mix of sons, rumba, jazz, soul, dance hall, dubstep and funk influenced by Africa.
Golpe Seko’s first single “Tiene Toke” is an interesting suggestion from their forthcoming album “Golpe Seko Brothers”. This is a slightly different beat, from the ballroom and changui cues in Jamaica, which is a unique island style. “Tiene Toke” also provides a creative drama for the traditional African traditional response vocal music tradition by working with the chorus in Calibre’s single rap.
Then, the song brought an unexpected turning point, that is with the ancient bart les (tres), a little like guitar guitar, its history can be traced back to the Spanish colonial history. Solo on music is adventurous, avant-garde jazz licking, not at all inappropriate.
During a visit to Cuba in June 2016, the band’s producer, DJ Jigue, played an earlier version of Golpe Seko music in his family studio in the city of beja, Havana. What is impressive is how he managed to capture the essence of music by not adding things, but by stripping, revealing the artistic and rich music foundation of human voices.
“Tiene Toke” is a wonderful introduction to Golpe Seko music. It is also the scene of the upcoming bubble of music on the island.