At its core, Cuban music relies on “calidos.” That, according to Insight Cuba, refers to “a type of social unification” that existed among slaves transported to the island from Africa.
Calidos, the piece says, continued following the emancipation of the island in 1886 and its transition to Catholicism. In parallel, the religion of Santeria spread over Cuba (and Haiti and other islands). The article says that much of what is recognized about Cuban music today is a product of Santeria: the emotions, vibrant colors, drum sequences (“toques”) and the presence of the saints. Other countries that influenced the island nation’s music are Spain, Jamaica, the United States and France.
Wikipedia adds that Cuban music is considered one of the most important regional musics in the world. Cubano music merges Spanish guitar (“tres”), melodies, harmonies and lyrical traditions with Afro-Cuban percussion and rhythms.
The hip-hop cadences of “Yo Aprendi” by Danay Suárez is a good illustration of how new forms of music are subsumed into existing genres. It’s a never-ending cycle. She’s great, but the co-star of the video is the city, which I assume is Havana. The old buildings and the old cars create a time warp quality that is a dramatic counterpoint to Suárez, the other young people and, of course, the new music. The ocean views complete the picture. It was good choice to reinforce the counterpoint by recording the video in black and white. Here is the translation of the song into English.
Danay Suárez is Cuban artist who was born in 1985. She’s appearing at the Highline Ballroom in New York City on June 24, according to her Facebook page.