Discos y singles cubanos que han marcado los últimos veinte años. Ilustración: Mayo Bous / Magazine AM:PM.

Records and singles that marked the last 20 years of Cuban music


Si no hubiera existido la invitación de la revista Vistar, ni lo hubiéramos pensado. Hacer una lista de discos y canciones cubanas que marcaron los últimos 20 años suena a tarea imposible; abarcar la producción musical de una nación con una riqueza artística como la nuestra suena a empeño inabarcable, por no decir pretencioso. Después de mucho pensarlo decidimos que nada parecido a «lo mejor» podría funcionar. Deberían ser entonces obras que hubieran dejado una huella en la manera de hacer la música o en la manera de entenderla por parte del público, esas que han abierto nuevos caminos o puesto una nota muy alta para su género en particular. Muchos de estos discos y canciones forman parte de la memoria sonora de Cuba, están grabados a fuego en casetes, CDs, discos duros y teléfonos. Y les estamos muy agradecidos por toda la música que nos han legado.

La Rumba Soy Yo: El All Stars De La Rumba Cubana, Autores Varios (Bis Music, 2000)

That the rumba enjoys full health today in Cuba and that it has been declared Intangible Heritage of Humanity by Unesco, has a lot to do with the recognition granted to this album (Latin Grammy Award in 2001 for Best Folk Music Album). From that moment we can say that many things began to change.

A lo cubano, Orishas (Universal Latino, 2000)

From farther it sounds prettier, they say. What was achieved in Paris by the Orishas group in 2000 - contract with international record label through - has remained in history as the most powerful assault on the international scene ever made by some Cuban hip hop group. The successful use of elements of Afro-Cuban music and popular dance, the distinctive contrast of the voices of its members, and precise production, delineated an album that has not ceased to resonate in Cuba and half the world since then.

Travesía mágica, Liuba María Hevia (Duendes Music, 2000)

Children's music had in this album one of the best Cuban voices and composers, Liuba María Hevia, performing her songs, but also written by the poet Ada Elba Pérez and some classic authors of Latin American children's song, such as María Elena Walsh, Gabilando Soler (Cri-Crí) and the Cuban Teresita Fernández. Topics such as Señor Arcoíris, Estela, cinnamon granite, Ana la campana, El trencito y el ant, El Despertar, among others, still resonate in the imaginary of those who grew up listening to this album, in which Silvio Rodríguez, Pablo Milanés also participated, Amaury Pérez, Carlos Varela, Santiago Feliú, Miriam Ramos, and many other artists.

Los Van Van Live at Miami Arena (Havana Caliente / Pimienta Records, 2003)

Two CDs and a DVD document the concert of more than three hours in October 1999, the most popular band of Cuban music in the city of the United States where more Cubans reside. An anthology of songs that are the soundtrack of the majority of the public and the orchestra knows it. Music acts as a bridge of love, anger, nostalgia, and hope.

Arsenal, Buena Fe (Egrem, 2003)

Although the Guantanamo duo had already debuted with the CD Déjame entrar 2001, it is Arsenal that opens the doors to national pop-rock. And a little further. The rock sounds accompanied by intimate stories - and very common - immediately positioned them among a young audience, mostly students, who raised their songs as flags of adolescence and youth. Intimidad, Tras tus pies, Fin de fiesta, Arsenal o Propuesta, for example, are still obligatory themes in the Good Faith concerts almost twenty years later.

Art Bembé, Gema y Pavel (El Europeo, 2003)

Two albums produced jointly by Pavel Urquiza and Descemer Bueno, who saw the light under the label The European in a careful edition of disc-book. Engraved between Madrid, New York, and Havana, it brings in 20 themes the musical shout of a generation of artists who — crossing geographical boundaries of residence and distinctions between those of academic training and the purely intuitive — came to give new nuances to Cuban music. Pavel and Descemer in the compositions and Gema Corredera with their voice at their best were already a guarantee, but some of the best Cuban instrumentalists of the time also dress it up, plus Haydée Milanés, Telmary, Francis del Río, David Torrens and many more. Cult disk

President Alien, Yerba buena (Razor & Tie Recordings, 2003)

Almost two decades after its release, this is an album that has not aged at all. President Alien continues to carry an overwhelming contemporary and, even today, we still wonder how it was possible to gather so many different meanings in a few songs. Because this phonogram goes far beyond compressing fused rhythms and genres, it is the echo of past spiritualities through our current voice.

Soy cubano, soy popular, Charanga Habanera (Egrem, 2003)

In full celebration of its 15 years of foundation, the Charanga Habanera releases an album where the fierce timba they defended - who defend? - lives with the ballad and where they boast to put the dancers to enjoy with those characteristic tombs supervised by David Footwear. It is said that it is the most popular of the Charanga albums, and the truth is that many of his songs were representative of that stage of the group: El Boni está pasmao, Abusadora, La Gorda, Mujeres y Timba con moña , together with the alignment that interpreted them.

Goza pepillo, Interactivo (Bis Music, 2004)

Interactive was a legend of Havana night at the height of his debut album. Already half the city had fallen under the charm of this supergroup in which Roberto Carcassés exorcised all the musical demons inside, for which he summoned how much musician he could contribute to that interactive and cannibalistic vision in which everything fits: jazz, timba, rumba, hip hop, funk or whatever activates the rhythm in our body. Interactive promised us a musical Cuba that, unfortunately, never reached another point higher than that album.

Guajiro Natural, Polo Montañez (Lusafrica, 2004)

It seems that Fernando Borrego Linares went through the hands of a marketing genius. This album of 12 simple and contagious songs, naively mixed genres of our fields with Latin American genres, was the debut album of a guajirito charcoal, tractor and cane cutter whose music filled his free time and soul. Discovered by a Cape Verdean music lover, he ended up being famous in part of the world and winning Gold and Platinum records in Colombia, before the accidental death, just three years after his famous fame, made him a legend.

Habana Blues, Autores Varios (Maestranza Films, 2005)

Compendium of a generation of Cuban artists, was Habana Blues, as well as in the homonymous film directed by Benito Zambrano, the soundtrack of the beginning of the century in Cuba. Mix of rock, funk, hip hop, reggae, soul, and Latin rhythms, the album featured the compositions of artists such as X Alfonso, Descemer Bueno, and Kelvis Ochoa, as well as their performances alongside those of Roly Berrio, Porn for Ricardo, Escape, Anais Abreu and Free Black Hole, among others. Disco that takes the temperature of alternative music on the Island and that, more than a decade later, is still part of our playlists. .

La Comisión Depuradora, Los Aldeanos y varios artistas (Real 70 / 26 Musas, 2007)

Los Aldeanos, the most respondent and heard hip hop duo in early-millennium Cuba - integrated by Aldo Rodríguez and Bian Oscar Rodríguez - serves as a host to a constellation of lineage rappers up to 40 Cuban MCs: Supreme Explosion, Maykel Extreme, The Adversary, Brothers of Cause, Silvito El Libre, Patriot Squadron, Yimi Konclaze, to name just a few. Produced by Real 70 and 26 Musas remains for history as a relevant milestone of Cuban underground hip hop.

Lo mejor que suena ahora, Gente de Zona (Planet Records, 2008)

Alexander Delgado, Jacob Forever and Nando Pro were, at the height of 2008, Gente de Zona, the band that some years later - with Randy Malcom and without Jacob Forever and Nando Pro on the squad - would achieve worldwide success. This album, in addition to being the first, managed to position them in the reggaeton scene in Cuba with themes such as Me gustan los artistas, Yo te enseñé, among others.

Gilles Peterson Presents Havana Cultura. New Cuba Sound, Autores Varios (Brownswood Recordings, 2009)

A decade ago Gilles Peterson was given the task of finding the perfect sound. That company took him to Havana where he "discovered" a handful of artists who already gave what to talk about in the Cuban underground scene. This is how this double album came about that has everything: hip hop, rumba, funk, son, soul, latin jazz. Mixing tradition with the avant-garde on this album, a luxury band is shown, led by pianist Roberto Fonseca and also guarded by formidable musicians: Mayra Caridad Valdés, Ogguere, Danay Suárez, Julio Padrón, Yaroldy Abreu, Ramsés Rodríguez, Francis Del Río, Obsession, passing through the Villagers, Telmary, Yusa, Kelvis Ochoa, Double Edge, Descemer Bueno, People of the Zone, Harold López-Nussa, Kumar, Black Free Hole, among others.

Escucha lo que te traje, Los 4 (Planet Records, 2010)

When it seemed that the conventional reggaeton in the style of Puerto Rico was gaining all the ground in Cuba in the middle of the first decade of the century, The 4 changed the landscape and finally devoted themselves to this album. Cubatón or Timbatón, in short, reggaeton with a rumba key, ceased to be an experiment to define a course in the urban sounds of the decade that would continue.

Ay, la vida, Santiago Feliú (Producciones Colibrí, 2010)

The last album in the life of the wonderful lefty that marked — personally and professionally — to so many Cuban (artists). A round album that sometimes sings to life itself and others seems to sink into darkness. How much irony, to leave us forever with this handful of songs-cycle that begins with Ay, la vida (life is enough / without then not ending); and ends with Resumiendo (Life one day/dawns dead ... / then calms / feels lives and saves/life while alive).

Pasaporte, Havana D’ Primera (2013, Producciones Colibrí )

Although since 2009 Alexander Abreu and Havana D 'Primera had taught in their debut album (Haciendo historia) what they were made of, it is with Pasaporte that they are permanently placed in the mouth (and feet) of all Cuba, and on the list How much salsa lover is scattered around the world. To the intricate and characteristic arrangements of the timba, the group incorporated letters of an unusual quality in the genre, which speak of the dreams and dilemmas of the Cubans who live this beginning of the century.

No quiero llanto Tributo a los Compadres, Septeto Santiaguero y José Alberto El Canario (Los Canarios Inc., 2015)

An album makes a difference or leaves its mark also when it returns us the freshness of a rethought tradition. After 20 years of creation, Septeto Santiaguero won a Latin Grammy in 2015 with this album and would be installed beyond the borders of the Island as one of the most respected performers of the son today. The list of collaborators speaks for itself.

Terapia, Cimafunk (Cimafunk, 2017)

With this independent production, Erick Alejandro Iglesias Rodríguez went from being a talented musician who integrated bands like Los Boys and Interactivo, to a total mass phenomenon. With a very peculiar style, and merging funk with Afro-Cuban music in this album, Cimafunk became the great revelation of Cuban music in 2018, leading it to fill spaces on the Island — El Sauce, the Cuban Art Factory, La Tropical—, to tour several cities in the United States and Europe and integrate several playlists in the world. His hit I'm leaving is, without a doubt, mandatory in the musical repertoire of Cuba today.

The Complete Cuban Jam Sessions from Panart, Autores Varios (Craft Recordings, 2018)

At the end of 2018 Craft Recordings (a division of Concord Records) made a beautiful and unexpected gift to all Cuban music lovers. In the year of the centenary of Israel López Cachao, the label relaunched in full the legendary downloads recorded in the Panart studio that starred a handful of musicians who defined the sound of what has been called Afro-Cuban jazz. The Complete ... is an essential collection for anyone interested in understanding how the soul of Cuba sounds.


  1. A lo cubano, Orishas (2000)
  2. No juegues con mi soledad, Buena Fe (2001)
  3. Quién tiró la tiza,  Molano ft. Clan 537 (2002)
  4. A bunch of stars, Polo Montañez (2004)
  5. Havana Blues, X Alfonso (2005)
  6. Añoranza por la conga, Sur Caribe (2005)
  7. No money, Interactivo (2005)
  8. La tuba, Elvis Manuel (2007)
  9. La estafa del babalawo, Kola Loka (2009)
  10. El Atropello, Los Aldeanos (2009)
  11. Tell me, Charanga Habanera ft. Chacal (2009)
  12. Si se va a formar que se forme, Los 4 (2010)
  13. Un año después (La costurera), Juan Formell y Los Van Van (2011)
  14. Cerro Cerrao, Insurrecto (2011)
  15. Passport, Havana D’ Primera (2013)
  16. Bailando, Descemer Bueno ft. Gente de Zona ft. Enrique Iglesias (2013)
  17. La Gozadera (Ponte pa lo Tuyo), Yoruba Andabo (2015)
  18. Hasta que se seque el Malecón, Jacob Forever (2015)
  19. I'm going, Cimafunk (2017)
  20. Bajanda, Chocolate MC (2018)

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1 Comment

  1. ¡Hola!

    Primero que nada, ¡feliz año 2020 para todo el equipo de Magazine AM:PM! 🥂

    Este es uno de los mejores artículos de todo el blog, si es que acaso no es el más relevante. Felicitaciones por contemplar y recordarnos la mejor música cubana en el nuevo milenio. Para alguien del extranjero como yo, que no estaba muy al tanto de lo sucedido en la música cubana (sacando el megaéxito comercial de Buena Vista Social Club), este artículo me viene bárbaro para descubrir aquello que me había perdido. 👏

    Deberían promover este informe a los 4 vientos, ya que no tiene desperdicio alguno. 👍

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