San Francisco, California
London, United Kingdom
Music -Guaguancó: a popular traditional dance of a marginal sensuality originally found in the slums. In the past, it was danced and played by the lower class, but nowadays it is widely spread throughout Havana neighborhoods (though in its improvisational aspect and core, it is still more popular among poorer areas, in solares from barrios spanning from Habana Vieja, to Regla). Guaguancó is a fusion of rumbas and is often improvised with a few “precarious” percussion instruments (you just need a stick and an old empty can or a wooden block) and voice/chorus, the music is invariably accompanied by dance that simulates an erotic encounter between man and woman. Like most Cuban beats, the Guaguancó has a syncopated typical rhythm that is practically embedded in Cuban DNA: everybody can play this “clave” and it is the basso continuo in many of the fusion musical genres that are constantly emerging. Guaguancó is urban poetry mixed with “Afrocubanness,” our most primitive (musical) feeling. Inspired in this genre and on street rhetoric, the group Free Hole Negro took on the challenge of fusing Guaguancó with Rap, creating a whole new genre named “free hop” (quoting from the British magazine The Observer). Just like Free Hole Negro, the Guaguancó tempo is the beat the underlies most Cuban rap. The artists are conscious of this musical debt, and in a postmodern manner, they play with that notion, for example in the song “Superfinos negros”: have gotten together, and have decided not to play Rumba anymore...’. Here, they play with the negation of the very genre that sets the rhythm of their music.