Krudas Cubensi do 'la revolución' on their own terms
Published: July 18, 2012
Olivia Prendes didn't take shit from Fidel, and she's not going to take shit from me.
"How come you're asking me all these political questions and so little about our music?" she says on the phone from Austin, where she and Odaymara Cuesta have lived since leaving Cuba in 2006.
I'm getting there, I tell her, but with a story like theirs, it's hard not to put things into perspective. The fiercely independent hip-hop duo (a trio until 2008) founded Cuba's first vegan and queer art collective in 1996. Shortly after that they met and befriended Austin's Rhizome Collective and Bikes Across Borders collective in Havana. They set up in Austin with four albums under their belt and resumed recording and touring. Levántate (Get Up) is their new album, and to promote it they'll bring their stirring live act to Nightrocker Live on Saturday.
Levántate is an aggressive, direct blend of hip-hop beats, one cumbia, and an all-pervading Afro-Cuban feel both in the percussion and the vocal delivery (the glorious "Punto G," or G-spot, is more Muñequitos de Matanzas than Dr. Dre). These girls are not trying to sound like New York or L.A. rappers, and their lethal flow continues to send a strong message to the male-dominated Cuban hip-hop establishment.
"Cuban rappers claim to be a revolution within the revolution, but I don't see too many women in there," she said. "And there is no revolution without women."
Even though they openly condemn the lack of freedoms on the island, don't expect them to hold a "Viva Romney" sign anytime soon.
"Most politicians are men and we're very distant from their psychology," Prendes said. "We're very foreign to politics, but the only thing we know is that Republicans are the worst."
"Las Krudas" are part of the new brand of Cuban exile: able to see pros and cons on both sides of the political debate. When I mention to Olivia that out of all the Latin artists I've interviewed in my career the smartest ones (and the best musicians) are always the Cubans still living in Cuba (or the recently exiled), she laughs.
"Cuba has a great cultural richness that allows you to survive the fact that we have a totalitarian regime," Prendes said. "We have time for creativity, the perfect climate for sex, and the conditions to communicate with real people instead of someone in a chat room."
Krudas Cubensi CD release party for Levántate feat. Calmeca Squad, Son Armado (hosted by Vocab)
9pm Sat, July 21
605 San Pedro
> Email Enrique Lopetegui