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


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:)

Listen: I Wayne and Assassin a.k.a. Agent Sasco lyrically vibing


Ahhhhhh, bumped into this random video of two quality and talented artiste out of Jamaica, Roots/Reggae singer I Wayne and the versatile Dancehall DJ Assassin a.k.a. Agent Sasco lyrically enjoying the vibes, as they create music.

This is how the magic happens…nice! Like the positive vibe and energy, in the natural environs and ting….love to see this unity in Reggae and Dancehall Music! WATCH VID BELOW:

Listen to the finished product ‘Fire Song’ HERE

ALSO WATCH: Wayne Marshall ft. Assassin a.k.a Agent Sasco ‘Stupid Money’

Video: Dancehall artiste Konshens on Hot 97 claims Mr Vegas is lying and more…

Hmm, Im not sure what to make of this ….but neways, peep below Warning: Explicit language near the end

If you missed it, you can check out the Mr Vegas saga here

NEW!! Music Video: Reggae artiste I Octane ‘L.O.V.E.Y.O.U’

by Natalie Monique

Check out the newly released Music Video for I Octane’s hot, new Lovers Rock tune ‘L.O.V.E. Y.O.U‘. The song is a track from his debut album, ‘Crying To The Nation’.

The video was directed by the multi-talented Jamaican All-Female team, Scorpio 21.

NEW!! Dancehall artiste I Octane set to release debut album ‘Crying To The Nation’

Media Release
VP Records and Scikron are proud to announce the release of I-Octane’s debut album, ‘Crying To The Nation,’ available January 31, 2012. ‘Crying To The Nation’ puts I-Octane in a class of his own as one of the next generation’s leaders of the conscious dancehall movement.

Following in a similar vein of his predecessors Sizzla, Capleton and Buju Banton, his lyrics express sentiments of faith, romance, social justice and compassion for the ghetto youth. His brand new single “L.O.V.E Y.O.U,” “Missing You” (remix featuring Assassin aka. Agent Sasco) and “Once More” reflect his emotional sensibility, while songs like “Vanity Will Come,” “All We Need Is Love” (featuring Tarrus Riley) and the title track are filled with positive messages and political leanings, something that the current state of dancehall often lacks.

“I feel good about all the songs I’ve done since I have started out, but this album is very special to me because I got the chance to make the type of songs that I really enjoy and meds the music in a different creative way. My fans will get to see another side of me and after all the challenges I’ve faced in the industry, seeing my first album is a great accomplishment. I give thanks for that,” states I-Octane.

Most of the album’s tracks have never been heard with the exception of the pulsating dancehall anthems “Nuh Love Inna Dem” and “Puff It” as well as “Lose A Friend,” arguably his biggest and most requested song to date. The latter tune hit number #1 on Jamaica’s charts – remaining at the top for approximately 16 weeks – and experienced new life again when Jamaican officials declared a state of emergency after Kingston’s gruesome gang-related attacks.

This year, Billboard magazine enlisted I-Octane as one of their 15 Artists Impacting The Indie Scene. In 2012, ‘Crying To The Nation’ will solidify his position as a multi-faceted reggae artist, proving his reach beyond dancehall with his added repertoire of touching love songs and cultural tunes. This refreshing approach to the genre holds a bright future for the ever-evolving artist.

9. L.O.V.E. Y.O.U

NEW!!! Watch Dancehall artiste Assassin aka. Agent Sasco in Europe creating musical havoc!

by Natalie Monique
Fresh from his superb performance at the huge Reggae festival in Jamaica, Reggae Sumfest and New York Jerk Fest, Assassin aka. Agent Sasco is now currently taking Europe by storm.

Assaasin seems intent on locking down his spot in 2011 and leading into 2012, as Dancehall’s leading lyricist and live stage performer local and abroad…and based on the footage from his performances this past weekend, he certainly was in true form, showing the huge, raving crowd of European fans the true definition of Dancehall Entertainment.

Running di place def seems to be the theme for this multi-talented Boardhouse Records artiste….as a line from one of his songs says, ‘…di ting tun up, yes di ting tun upppp‘….love the energy, taking quality Dancehall music to the worldddd!…crowd mad eeh!!