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COMMENTARY: Cubans love Music; Is ‘real’ Reggae Music finally seeing some light in the largest Caribbean Island?


Photo/Caridad

Views expressed are solely the opinion of the writer, and when of others is clearly quoted, and not (unless specifically stated as such) that of www.nataliemonique.com.

by Natalie Monique

The Republic of Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean (over 11 million inhabitants), having gained formal Independence from the United States in 1902. Cuba has always been known for its rigid Communist regime under Leader Fidel Castro, causing a huge lack of Freedom for its citizens. After Raul Castro became President in 2008, he promised that there would be more freedom in Cuba, of which there has been progressive changes. Though slow in movement, one can say there seems to be a ray of hope. There are still major restrictions for example, Computer ownership/Internet use and Travelling to name a few, and there is still a high rate of Illegal Emigration. However, the island does boast a highly rich Culture (understandable being a highly multi-ethnic region), offers the best worldwide healthcare, a 99.8% literacy rate and a lower infant death rate than most developed countries, but many of the benefits are not equally distributed.

A huge part of Cuban Culture is Music, right now various types of Music though not definitively known as Genres are enjoyed more in the island. Besides Cuban produced Music, local Cuban musicians also tend to adapt worldwide Popular Cultures such as Hip Hop, Reggae, Reggaeton and Rap, while still maintaining their own vibe through content and lyrics representing current Social and Political issues.

Approaching the 1990’s, Cubans began listening to Reggaeton, a ‘form’ of Reggae Music (blending Reggae, Electronic and Latin beats) which many original Reggae Lovers feel can never come remotely close to the authentic and meaningful Genre. Reggaeton is mostly popular in the Latin American Culture and spreading to other regions especially where Latin American communities exist, I would be lying if I say it doesnt get me moving. There is nothing more satisfying and relaxing even somewhat holistic, than some real, unadulterated Reggae Music seeping through your body. However, I think its great when persons try to emulate this beautiful Genre, I’m all for diversifying, creating an eclectic blend, mixing cultures, as long as the original is still maintained and respected…I do agree however, we can never say it is actual Reggae Music:)


Holding Cuban and Jamaican Flags – Photo/Caridad

Some Cubans have actually criticised Reggaeton as being ‘too explicit’ and sexual, and publicly yearned for Reggae, and original Reggae lovers there have made efforts to push the actual genre, however limited by Resources and support. When say Reggae, I am not referring to Cuban Reggae, which is a mix of Hip Hop, African Beats and Reggae, but the original ‘Jamaican born’ Reggae. In Cuba, Reggae is largely associated with the Rastafarian culture, as is in many other societies, hence Reggae is represented and promoted by the small cross section of Rastas in Cuba. Reggae? We all instantly think of the Jamaican King of Reggae, Bob Marley who was a convicted Rastafarian, spreading Reggae Music worldwide, touching the lives of persons from various races, cultures, age and class.

Most of the Rastas and Reggae Musicians reside in in the Eastern part of Cuba, where it is believed mostly Jamaicans live, and a huge Caribbean influence exist. However, Cuba does not permit the ‘public’ Rastafarian practice, namely smoking Cannibis, which is considered a main part of the faith. There has been controversy as Reggaeton is more popular (not without criticism though) than Reggae, the original genre from where it was even created. There are a few Reggae bands/artistes in Cuba, main ones such as Remanente and Paso Firme, and others on the rise still trying to keep the genre alive.

I recently bumped into an article in the Havana Times, where the author Dmitiri Prieto said he met with Raudel, a local Musician who pleaded for ‘the advance of pacifistic non-conformist spirituality in support of reggae and against reggaeton, which he said represented the corruption and perversion of the music that gave it its birth.’ He also highlighted the fact that Rastas are unable to freely practice their belief due to Law enforcement.

Check out this Documentary trailer, directed by Susanne Moss ‘Ras Cuba’:

He mentioned that the Mass Media has also been airing more Reggae promotions and even Bob Marley which is a good sign for the well loved Genre. To highlight progress, he also made reference to a recently published Cuban book ‘La Cultura Rastafari en Cuba’ (Rastafarian Culture in Cuba) by Cuban Researcher/Author Samuel Fure Davis. I also came across another interesting online narrative by Fure wrote back in 2005, ‘Lyrical Subversion in Cuban Reggae’ and and his in-depth ‘Reggae in Cuba’, a presentation at the University of the West Indies, UWI, Jamaica. Prieto also mentioned an upcoming conference on ‘African-based’ beliefs of which he says will include the Rastafarian Faith, for the first time.

Reggae means different things to different person, to Cubans it is synonymous with Rastafari. I am not a Rasta nor smoke Marijuana, (not every Islander smokes meds by the way), but those who know me well, KNOW I deeply enjoy the natural mystic/outdoor vibe, nourishing and healing the body with herbs, seeking knowledge, eating organic and healthy AND I am an avid fan of my Island’s Reggae and Dancehall Music! Despite what Reggae means to you, we here at nataliemonique.com are determined to keep this island gem of a genre alive and taking the authentic Caribbean culture to the World:)

We love the move, the word is getting out…Free Up Reggae maan! Its not ‘just’ Music, it is a euphoric experience! We may like Music, but everybody needs a little Reggae!:) Who better to explain what Reggae is all about than the King of Reggae himself: (Watch Videos below) Feel free to comment/share your thoughts:)

HAPPY ST. PATRICKS DAY!!!…find out what exactly is being celebrated?

We have all heard of the ‘Green’ day, St Paddys, St Patricks, the ‘friendliest’ day of the year…a day when persons across the World, mainly dressed in green, gather at pubs, bars, wherever and have a great time with friends and family, consuming beer and just being ‘merry’. Not many persons however know exactly what the hype/celebration is all about, so thought Id share the article below:)

Source: John Roach/ National Geographic News

On St. Patrick’s Day—Saturday, March 17—millions of people will don green and celebrate the Irish with parades, good cheer, and perhaps a pint of beer. But few St. Patrick’s Day revelers have a clue about St. Patrick, the historical figure, according to the author of St. Patrick of Ireland: A Biography.

“The modern celebration of St. Patrick’s Day really has almost nothing to do with the real man,” said classics professor Philip Freeman of Luther College in Iowa.

Who Was the Man Behind St. Patrick’s Day?
For starters, the real St. Patrick wasn’t even Irish. He was born in Britain around A.D. 390 to an aristocratic Christian family with a townhouse, a country villa, and plenty of slaves. What’s more, Patrick professed no interest in Christianity as a young boy, Freeman noted. At 16, Patrick’s world turned: He was kidnapped and sent overseas to tend sheep as a slave in the chilly, mountainous countryside of Ireland for seven years.

“It was just horrible for him,” Freeman said. “But he got a religious conversion while he was there and became a very deeply believing Christian.”

St. Patrick’s Disembodied Voices
According to folklore, a voice came to Patrick in his dreams, telling him to escape. He found passage on a pirate ship back to Britain, where he was reunited with his family. The voice then told him to go back to Ireland.

“He gets ordained as a priest from a bishop, and goes back and spends the rest of his life trying to convert the Irish to Christianity,” Freeman said. Patrick’s work in Ireland was tough—he was constantly beaten by thugs, harassed by the Irish royalty, and admonished by his British superiors. After he died on March 17, 461, Patrick was largely forgotten. But slowly, mythology grew around Patrick, and centuries later he was honored as the patron saint of Ireland, Freeman noted.

Is Your Shamrock Real or Bogus?

According to St. Patrick’s Day lore, Patrick used the three leaves of a shamrock to explain the Christian holy trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Today, St. Patrick’s Day revelers wear a shamrock. Trifolium dubium, the wild-growing, three-leaf clover that some botanists consider the official shamrock, is an annual plant that germinates in the spring. Other three-leaf clovers, such as the perennials Trifolium repens and Medicago lupulina, are “bogus shamrocks,” according to the Irish Times.

John Parnell, a botanist at Trinity College Dublin, said that Trifolium dubium is the most commonly used shamrock today, which lends credence to the claims of authenticity. However, he added, the custom of wearing a shamrock dates back to the 17th and 18th centuries, and “I know of no evidence to say what people then used. I think the argument on authenticity is purely academic—basically I’d guess they used anything cloverlike then.”

What’s more, botanists say there’s nothing uniquely Irish about shamrocks. Most clover species can be found throughout Europe.

No Snakes in Ireland
Another St. Patrick myth is the claim that he banished snakes from Ireland. It’s true no snakes exist on the island today, Luther College’s Freeman said—but they never did. Ireland, after all, is surrounded by icy waters—much too cold to allow snakes to migrate from Britain or anywhere else. Since snakes often represent evil in literature, “when Patrick drives the snakes out of Ireland, it is symbolically saying he drove the old, evil, pagan ways out of Ireland [and] brought in a new age,” Freeman said.

The snake myth, the shamrock story, and other tales were likely spread by well-meaning monks centuries after St. Patrick’s death, Freeman said.

St. Patrick’s Day: Made in America?
Until the 1970s, St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland was a minor religious holiday. A priest would acknowledge the feast day, and families would celebrate with a big meal, but that was about it.

“St. Patrick’s Day was basically invented in America by Irish-Americans,” Freeman said. Irish-American history expert Timothy Meagher said Irish charitable organizations originally celebrated St. Patrick’s Day with banquets in places such as Boston, Massachusetts; Savannah, Georgia; and Charleston, South Carolina. Eighteenth-century Irish soldiers fighting with the British in the U.S. Revolutionary War held the first St. Patrick’s Day parades. Some soldiers, for example, marched through New York City in 1762 to reconnect with their Irish roots.
Other parades followed in the years and decades after, including well-known celebrations in Boston, Philadelphia, and Chicago, primarily in flourishing Irish immigrant communities.

“It becomes a way to honor the saint but also to confirm ethnic identity and to create bonds of solidarity,” said Meagher, of Catholic University in Washington, D.C..

Dyeing the River Green for St. Patrick’s Day
Sometime in the 19th century, as St. Patrick’s Day parades were flourishing, wearing the color green became a show of commitment to Ireland, Meagher said. In 1962 the show of solidarity took a spectacular turn in Chicago when the city decided to dye a portion of the Chicago River green.

The tradition started when parade organizer Steve Bailey, head of a plumbers’ union, noticed how a dye used to trace possible sources of river pollution had stained a colleague’s overalls a brilliant green, according to greenchicagoriver.com.

Why not use the dye to turn the whole river green on St. Patrick’s Day, Bailey thought. So began the tradition.
The environmental impact of the dye is minimal compared with pollution such as bacteria from sewage-treatment plants, said Margaret Frisbie, the executive director of the advocacy group Friends of the Chicago River. Rather than advising against the dye, her group focuses on turning the Chicago River into a welcoming habitat full of fish, herons, turtles, and beavers. If the river becomes a wildlife haven, the thinking goes, Chicagoans won’t want to dye their river green.

“Our hope is that, as the river continues to improve, ultimately people can get excited about celebrating St. Patrick’s Day different ways,” she said.

Pint of Guinness on St. Patrick’s Day
On any given day 5.5 million pints of Guinness, the famous Irish stout brand, are consumed around the world. But on St. Patrick’s Day, that number more than doubles to 13 million pints, said Beth Davies Ryan, global corporate-relations director of Guinness.
“Historically speaking, a lot of Irish immigrants came to the United States and brought with them lots of customs and traditions, one of them being Guinness,” she said.

Today, the U.S. tradition of St. Patrick’s Day parades, packed pubs, and green silliness has invaded Ireland with full force, said Freeman, the classics professor. The country, he noted, figured out that the popularity of St. Patrick’s Day was a good way to boost spring tourism. (Get National Geographic Traveler magazine’s list of the best hotels in Ireland.)

“Like anybody else,” he said, “they can take advantage of a good opportunity.”

NEW!! Music Video: Reggae artiste Protoje ‘Our Time Come’ ft. Don Corleon


by Natalie Monique

Upcoming Reggae artiste Oje Ken Ollivierre aka. Protoge is on the rise, and definitely well on his way. Check out his latest Music Video for the ‘Our Time Come’ ft. Don Corleon, filmed by El Puru and song produced by Don Corleon Records.

Being a former Recording Studio Engineer, Protoge is no stranger to Music, he even sings of his passion in one of his previous tunes, ‘Seven Year Itch’, talking about his experience and challenges he has faced as a rising artliste. His style and sound is that of the original Reggae legends, very soulful and Roots, adding his own urban edge, through songs of pure reality…a style we would define as Cariburban.

The video shows aspects of Protoge’s daily journey in his Musical career as a rising artiste…..showing ‘in the street’ footage and various performances….serving somewhat as a foreshadowing of what is to come, as he sings, ‘Our Time Come, check how we ah do it…keep your eyes open, trodding through the street..’

This artiste is definitely one to look out for in 2012… Check out the vid below!

NEW!! Video: Machel Montano takes double title of Power and Groovy Soca Monarch


by Natalie Monique

There is NO stopping Soca King Machel Montano!!!!!!

At the recently held Finals for the International Soca Monarch and Groovy Soca Monarch, held at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Trinidad today, Machel copped both titles for the night with his hit tunes, ‘Mr Fete‘ and ‘Pump Yuh Flag’.

Montano was the 2011 Soca Monarch winner, hence regaining his crown this year, in additon to also taking the Groovy Soca title….he certainly has been working real hard, taking Soca Music across the globe.

CONGRATS Mr Fete!!!! Check out the final results below:

International Soca Monarch Finals Results

Power Soca Monarch

1. Machel Montano (Pump Yuh Flag)
2. Iwer George (No Pain)
3. Destra (Link Up)
4. Prophet Benjamin (Throw Wine) & Blaxx (Inside Ah Band)

Play Whe Groovy Soca Monarch

1. Machel Montano (Mr Fete)
2. Kerwin Du Bois (Bacchanalist)
3. Benjai (People’s Champion)
4. Nadia Batson (No Pressure)
5. Kees Diffenthaller (Stress Away)

NEW!! Official Music Video: Soca artiste KES ‘Stress Away’

Trinidadian hot topic, Soca artiste, Kees Dieffenthaller aka. Kes of Kes The Band, released his brand new Music Video to his hit single, ‘Stress Away’.

The amazing, cinematic video was directed by Ryan C. Khan and produced by Question Mark Entertainment . The song produced on the 4D Riddim by 1st Klase Productions. Lets talk about the concept….very original, with a Fairytale, transformative kind of vibe, from the elaborate Wonderland costumes to the ‘Bunny’ …a unique way of displaying the ‘de-stressing’ and surreal effects of Soca Music…so trueee, lol

Love the high quality production and vintage vibe…not to mention the diversifying and creativity…A really positive and energetic one from Kes and his team…Kes is doing even bigger things, with his ‘Stress Away’ Remix with Hip Hop legend Snoop Dogg. Kudos, a good look for Soca Music….to the worldddd!!!

‘….tell the gal bring da waist mek we wine it up….aint no stressing at all, put your worries and stress away, cuz here I wanna stayyy…’ Stress free Check it out!!!

Kes talks about the Making of ‘Stress Away’