Saturday, July 29, 2006

Hot Havana Nights

We all know Cuba is a magical country, which can never be described in one, ten or even a hundred blog posts. And Cuban music has been very malrepresented on this site (mostly because the music scene is a little more difficult to access from the other end of the world, comparing to other latin countries). This post will try to rectify that lack of attention with a whole load of Cuban mp3s, straight from the streets of Havana.

After three weeks of travelling around the western part of the island, taking in the fiestas in honor of July 26th (Revolution Day), the first conclusion has to be: reggaeton is everywhere. Wandering through the picturesque streets of the enigmatic capital, the breeze is soothed with the famous beat emerging from windows, sidewalk stereos, bicicle taxis, etc. Girls merely six years old move their bellies like professional dancers, boys repeat their favorite raps word for word on trains returning from the beach. Don Omar and Daddy Yankee dominate radios and nightclubs, though Cuban artists get a lot of attention too. Example: Eddy-K ft. Haila with "Entrale". Even big salsa and timba artists like Paulo FG and Bamboleo catch up with the hype, resulting in a typically Cuban variety of tropically flavoured reggaeton. In my opinion one of the best latin songs I've heard recently: "Te Boté" by Paulo FG. You'll recognize Roldan (see also this post) of globally popular hiphop formation Orishas in the chorus. (By the way, if you don't own A Lo Cubano, the must-have Orishas debut, buy it now!).

"El Zorreo" by Bamboleo (a salsa formation which includes above mentioned singer Haila) was a certain floorfiller at the numerous open air salsa parties. I admit at first the song sounds a little unpolished, but I guarantee the addictive melody will be in your head whole summer.

¡Esto será tu castigo, por lo que hiciste conmigo!
I'm not a big salsa fan, but I like the salsa cubana more than the New York or Puerto Rican varieties. Maybe it's because Cuban salsas are less romantic? Or more sensual? Or more rhytmic? Fact is that you just have to move to songs like "No Tengo La Culpa" (El Clan) or "Esta Es Mi Charanga" (Charanga Habanera).
PS: I know Los Van Van are massively popular inside and outside the country, but the few songs I've heard didn't really convince me.

Dozens of bands in restaurants and bars keep the son alive, but sadly they aim for tourist dollars (by playing the same Buena Vista Social Club songs over and over again) instead of being innovative.
(I might do a special on guajiro natural Polo Montañez one of these days though!)

Nueva Trova
Trova is a less popular, more poetic form of bringing traditional Cuban songs. Using voices and an acoustic guitar, trovadores are real songcrafters who specialize in emotionally moving people with the simplicity of their songs. A lively café scene in most provincial capitals (there's always a Casa de la Trova, Cafe Cantante or Casa de la Musica nearby) keeps the music alive, and if you're lucky you'll spend an unforgettable evening submerged in subtle guitar arpeggios and emotionally broken voices. Pablo Milanés is one of the founding fathers of the genre, and "Yo No Sé" is his latest song (I think).

Though I haven't been to Oriente, origin most of Afro-Cuban music, "Añoranza por la Conga" by Sur Caribe came to my attention for being so different compared to other latin music. A very African rhythm, but a latin way of singing combine to something quite unique I never heard before in Latin America. They call it Conga, but I don't know if this music has to do something with the ridiculous line dance. I imagine it has a more religious meaning, referring to Santería, a fusion between African Yoruba religion and Spanish catholicism.


Eddy-K ft. Haila - Entrale mp3 video
Paulo FG ft. Roldan - Te Boté mp3 video
Bamboleo - El Zorreo mp3 buy@iTunes
El Clan - No Tengo La Culpa mp3 video
Charanga Habanera - Esta Es Mi Charanga mp3
Pablo Milanés - Yo No Sé mp3 buy@iTunes
Sur Caribe - Añoranza por la Conga mp3


Aurelio said...

Very good report! I'm a fan of Cuban music myself.
It's kinda hard to find current Cuban music outside of the country. I was looking for "Te Boté" since my last return from the island in april. Although I brought a ton of cd's with me I forgot to get thatone. But now - thanks to you - I finally got it!!!

Cheers and keep it up!

Timbo said...

You have an excellent blog - your dedication to the music shows in the details.

Thanks for this!

Chapín said...

thanks to both of you ;)

Joris said...


I just stumbled over this site, googling around. I was so desperate to find 'no tengo la culpa'. I just arrived last week back from la tierra cubana. I was there at the 26th of july, in Sancti Spiritus. I want to thank the writer of this piece soooo much!

Thanx and a greeting from a chilly Holland.

T said...

i just got back from cayo coco and i bought a cd of the songs they normally play about but the one i like isnt there - which is no tengo la culpa. i searched in google and found your blog but i cant seem to be able to download it though..

Chapín said...

it's back up

Anonymous said...

Please, I need to know what song is "Esto será tu castigo, por lo que hiciste conmigo..." and who sings the song.

Thanks a lot!!!

My name is Laura and this is my mail:

Chapín said...

Hey Laura,

The song is called "El Zorreo" by Bamboleo, and it was listed on the site here until a few weeks ago. If you like, I could put it back up..

Anonymous said...

I'm Laura again. It would be great! Thanks because I can't get it nowhere!

Congratulations!The blog it's fantastic!

Anonymous said...

Another question: do you know a song whith a letter similar to "soñe, contigo soñe, desde aquella noche en la que yo te bese...."

I listened it in Cuba, but I don't remember more of the letter and I don't know who sings and the tittle!


Chapín said...

Here's El Zorreo. I don't recognize the other song you mention.. maybe you should try a Google search for the lyrics?

Ali said...

can anyone post "no tengo la culpa" again as I am desperate to find this song.

Chapín said...

here you go ali: No Tengo La Culpa

Anonymous said...

hola! soñe contigo soñe, es d la cancion Soñe, de Gente de Zona,