Buena Vista in the Club: Rap, Reggaetón, and Revolution in Havana


Buena Vista in the Club: Rap, Reggaetón, and Revolution in Havana
Geoffrey Baker
2011, Duke University Press
410 pages

HIP HOP in Cuba provides an excellent example of the adaptability of Cuba’s political system and the country’s very different form of democracy. While Cuban officials initially rejected rap as the music of the “enemy”, leading figures in the vibrant hip hop scene soon convinced cultural institutions to accept and promote rap, a process that culminated in the creation of the state-run and sui generis Cuban Rap Agency. This form of cultural democracy and the responsiveness of the Cuban state to street-level lobbying of this kind reveals the strengths and creative force of a country that has learned how to adapt to popular pressure in a way that challenges many portrayals of it among its enemies. It also reveals the credibility given by official bodies to Afro-Latin musical heritage, something one might be hard-pressed to find across the water. That said, Geoffrey Baker’s fascinating portrait of the rap and Reggaetón scene in Cuba points out that the latter reflects a new materialism that accompanied the influx of foreign consumer goods and cultural mores in a rapidly changing society. Baker explores the transnational dimensions of Cuba’s urban music and the role of supportive foreigners in developing and promoting this cultural beacon. Buena Vista in the Club will be an essential reference point for anyone interested in contemporary Cuban music and culture. – GO’T

Bookmark and Share