Hip-hop is a musical genre that is popular among the African American community in the US and the youth in other countries such as Cuba. Youths uses this genre of music to express themselves and to address important issues in the society. In the initial years of existence, the Cuban government supported hip-hop because it provided youth employment and had the potential to generate government income in the same way the Jamaican music industry generate government revenue. However, the artists used the platform to raise important issues such as inequality and government heavy-handedness. Therefore, the government imposed a ban on hip-hop, resulting to the development of a thriving underground music industry. In Cuba, there are many similarities between the revolution of the Hip-hop genre of music and the Cuban revolution that was led by Fidel Castro.
In his documentary about the development of Cuban hip-hop, Eli Jacobs-Fantauzzi proposes that it represents a way for artists to create something powerful out of an impossible situation. The claim is supported by the existence of controls and the way Cuban hip-hop artists have been forced to do their work as ‘underground artists’. However, despite the difficulties, they still manage to produce music that moves the youths. The popularity of hip-hop is compatible to elements of the Cuban revolution. Castro and his revolutionaries were forced to operate in extremely harsh conditions by the government but still managed to influence the development of the country. The two movements therefore share the ability to impress and mobilize members of the Cuban nation from a disadvantaged position.
Eli Jacobs-Fantauzzi also proposed that of of the main motivators behind the development of hip-hop is the need to address the questions of social inequalities in the country. While the older generations get richer and richer, the youths are forced to survive from manual labor because most of them are jobless. In addition, the gap between the classes has been growing bigger and bigger. The result is that the poor are poorer than ever and the quality of their lives is affected by the ever-increasing rates of inflation. The motivation of raising the issues of social inequity in the country is compatible to the Cuban revolution, in the revolution, Castro’s association with the lower classes in the society was among the main reasons for his popularity. In the same way, the low social classes are the main supporters of hip-hop. The differences arise in the aspect of potential. While the Cuban revolution promised to create equality by embracing communist, hip-hop is merely a platform for people to air their grievances.
Inspiration is a very important part of music. Eli Jacobs-Fantauzzi proposes that hip-hop is popular in the country because it is a source of inspiration. In this context, the lyrics and the nature of production are sources of inspiration to the Cuban youths as well as the low classes of the society. The inspiration derived from hip-hop music results in popular following. Therefore, the element of inspiration supports a thriving industry even when the government is against it. The Cuban revolution can relate to the use of inspiration to mobilize support. People relate to music because they aspire to defy the government in the dame that hip-hop defies it.
Hip-hop in Cuba is used to criticize the Cuban revolution. For example, the aspect of social inequality in the country is a function of a failure of the political structure to deliver the promises of the revolution. Due to the element of criticism and the ability to mobilize people, the government was threatened by the potential of hip-hop and therefore banned it. Therefore, there are many similarities between hip-hop and the Cuban revolution. The differences between hip-hop artists and the government only serves to increase the similarities.
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