How Cuba’s Reggaeton Defies Internet Restrictions
Chelsea Matiash @cmatiash July 8, 2016
Reggaeton incorporates elements of hip-hop, electronic music and rap
with influences of Jamaican dancehall
The language can be explicit, the lyrics could be considered immoral,
and the genre was once banned entirely by Raul Castro’s administration.
So how do performers from the now-ubiquitous Cuban Reggaeton scene find
celebrity, let alone spread their music in a country where internet
connectivity relies on expensive, government-approved WiFi hotspots that
are unreliable and inundated at best?
The El Paquete (The Packet), a hard drive that is delivered weekly for a
nominal fee, is a significant player in the dissemination of media not
accessible to legions of Cubans hungry for information. It is on this
semi-clandestine device that proprietors of a phenomenon that has
infiltrated Cuban airwaves spread music that has everyone from children
to teens to grandparents dancing along.
Photographer Lisette Poole had been living in Cuba for about a year when
she noticed Reggeaton music permeating Cuban culture. She amassed tracks
from hard drives and approached artists, once in an airport—who despite
their star power are much more accessible than their American cultural
counterparts. “In Cuba in general I found that people are pretty
accessible, even if they are really famous,” Poole tells TIME.
“Everywhere they go they get mobbed by young kids who want their
autograph and want their picture taken.”
Despite the limitations on connectivity, artists can create songs and
videos that circulate “all over Cuba within a couple of days,” says
Poole. She says the creation and distribution of Reggaeton content is in
‘constant flow’ where artists keep up with a demand for new music.
Reggaeton, which is a style that incorporates elements of hip-hop,
electronic music and rap with influences of Jamaican dancehall, is at
its core, dance music. “Cubans really love dancing,” says Poole, an
American born to a Cuban mother. “And so for them it’s more preferable
to go out and listen to something that they can dance to.”
The photographer began visiting the country as a teenager and took up
primary residence there in late 2014. She says she is motivated to look
at the country objectively to “show Cuba the way that it really is, as
I’ve seen it living there. I feel like showing Reggaeton is just part of
Lisette Poole is a freelance visual journalist. Follow her on Instagram
@lisettepoole. Watch her documentary on Reggaeton, Reggaeton Revolución:
Cuba in the Digital Era
Source: How Cuba’s Reggaeton Defies Internet Restrictions | TIME –