Film Shows Los Problemas of Cuban Rappers
Yesterday, a whole bunch of sponsoring groups showed the film “East of Havana” in the Pattee Library as part of “Rompiendo Barreras, Abriendo Caminos” ( “Breaking Borders, Opening Paths”). “RB, AC” is being held over the next couple of days and celebrates having Cuban rappers at Penn State for the first time ever. Since the movie featured a combo of Cuba and hip-hop, Onward State’s honorary “Whitest Reporter on the Staff” (a much-coveted title in the newsroom) was selected to go.
The film basically taught me about all the terrible things Cuban rappers have to put up with to practice their art. The biggest difference I saw between growing up on the streets of Cuba versus America is the fact that complaining about your economical situation is illegal in Cuba. Criticizing those in power likewise isn’t the national pastime we know it to be in America. Finally, the rappers only got the chance to perform once a year at a festival paid for by the local community center. The one scheduled for the year during which “East of Havana” was filmed was cancelled on account of showers of prejudice and scattered racism.
Specifically, the film detailed the lives of rappers Soandry, who lived in a rundown shanty; Magyori, who lived in a rundown shanty; and Michel “Mikki Flow” Hermida, who lived in a rundown shanty next to the ocean. All three of the hip-hoppers had to balance busting mad rhymes with not starving to death. Problems specific to each included Soandry’s brother booking it to the United States, Magyori selling everything in her house to buy food, and Mikki Flow apparently lacking in belts to hold his pants up.
If I learned anything from “East of Havana,” it’s that Cuba can be a worse place to live than I previously imagined. In America, rap music is a means to express your feelings if you’re angry and annoy your neighbors if you’re not. For many in Cuba, it is a method of survival.