Date of Award

5-10-2017

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (BA)

First Advisor

Anastasia Valecce

Abstract

In this paper, I examine the political, social and cultural significance of Cuban rap through the analysis of selected rap lyrics and I analyze the discourses pertaining to this music. A discourse analysis of independent Cuban rap music excerpts is the primary method. In the Cuban context, there are rappers that are state-sponsored, meaning they are affiliated with and supported by state institutions that provide them with a government salary and resources to record, promote, and perform. On the other hand, there are independent rappers that do not receive state sponsorship and often experience a drastically different reality in trying to obtain resources, record, and perform. It is significantly more difficult and they sometimes record in homemade studios and operate through the black market. In particular, I focus on a few of the state’s strategies utilized to diminish the value of the lyrics and protests expressed by rappers in their songs, including: censorship; favoritism towards non-political performers; police harassment and closure of performances delivered by critical rappers; the role of the state in the development and promotion of rap; and the tension between the state and independent rappers. I analyze the texts of two raps: “Mandamos a Parar/We Demand That it Stop” by Los Aldeanos and “Se Acabó el Abuso (No Somos Iguales)/ The Abuse is Over (We Are Not Equal)” by Las Krudas.1 These songs critique the sociopolitical condition of Cuba and challenge the state’s power. The central question of this investigation explores freedom of expression in the production of contemporary Cuban rap. The development of Cuban rap and the messages of contemporary Cuban rappers uniquely reflects the dynamic between Cuban citizens, specifically marginalized citizens (e.g., the poor, blacks and mulattos, urban populations and those displaced by the expansion of the tourism industry, women, the LGBTQ community), and the state regarding freedom of expression. This also questions the role of the government and its success or failure at achieving some of the goals of the Cuban Revolution, specifically, the goal to create a more egalitarian society, free of racial and gender-based discrimination. These selected rappers offer a different, more comprehensive perspective from several scholars that have researched this topic thus far. The voices of independent rappers themselves are crucial to understanding the potential for protest music, such as rap, as a narrative for shaping the values of Cuban people today and in the not too distant future. Hence, this investigation contributes to understanding contemporary Cuban society through the analysis of its rap music in relation to the state.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License

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