The individual. Photo: Courtesy of the artist.

El Individuo: the same but updated, you know

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Interviews
Reading time 8 minutes

When he was still Rafael Bou and still did not wear a white and mustard uniform, he must have climbed on a couple of stages to repeat rhymes from his favorite rappers. Rhymes his at twelve, when he made his first group with the school partners and that of hip hop was nothing more than a hobby, "what was used." So so he doesn't even remember the name, only that they participated in a youth club every week in Prado and Trocadero, near the school. 

The professional interest came later, with the creation of the Con100cia group, which also began as a hobby, but that was discovered for him, over ten years, the Cuban hip hop scene, directing his discourse and his intentions within the genre. The Individual was born and had - has - many things to say.  

"Con100cia was created among a group of friends, it was a time when there was a fairly strong rap school which was the Los Aldeanos school, SilviTO el Libre ..., and the idea was a bit to do that same rap, but using language that was not so aggressive, throw the same message, but without that aggressiveness, and bring people to reflection. We didn't think so much about the musical part, but about the speech; Over time we realized that we had to work other things, but the initial idea was like that. 

"Before that school school there was a group of musicians who rapped, but they were not so focused on the speech, maybe they gave more strength to the flow, the metric, the music, and I think what happened to me with Los Aldeanos and the rest was that there was a speech that told me something, that made me see, think, analyze a certain situation ".

The duo recorded three albums: De corazón pa fuera, Aquí abajo también hay gente, and Con la Con100cia tranquila, with those who managed to insert themselves into the circuit with their speech. 

But all of this was left behind somehow, two years ago, when Rafael decided to be El Individuo in lonely. While in Con100cia he became involved with other projects: jazz players, troubadours, and that work showed him a range of possibilities. Curiosity, if not the desire to grow, led him to want to know and experiment within the genre with his ideas, "because Con100cia was a collective."

El Indivuo with one of its producers, JD Asere (and former colleague of the Con100cia collective). Photo: Courtesy of the artist.

What changed?

"The speech is still the same, although a little more mature, I think, but the idea is to work in music. Rap is characterized by the use of samplersand I with El Individuo want to make more elaborate music; If we use samplersthey are created by ourselves. As I am not a school musician, I am working with Rasciel Aldama (trumpet) and Dany Arce (trombone), and with my producers JD Asere and Dj Lápiz. And I think that when the music picks up a little more force it forces me to try harder: in speech, in lyrics, inflow, in metrics.

"What I like most about rap is trying to use your flow as a percussion instrument in music, and at the same time manage to say something, which is super difficult."

The cover letter is titled Soya five-track EP signed by Guámpara Music that was released on December 2018, which is not known in Cuba, which had no official presentation and that The Individual began to relaunch last month of September for the Cuban public. The theme chosen for the debut - available on digital platforms - is called De Toyo y en Tallaan X-ray session of almost four minutes and in which it appears like this: Born and raised near Toyo / maybe that's why I'm always in size / of those that do not fail and by sayas it does not get into rolls, / deep like the Andoyo / of street and by the valley of the under / with the busted pocket in Creole, fighting cock / although I started being a chicken / and there are already more than 50 that are connected to my roll.

"I've always said that I want my rap to be identified as 'Cuban rap' since you listen to the music, I don't want to be confused, that's why the music has Caribbean elements, that mischievousness of the Cuban too; I think it goes there. "

Ya Guámpara Music - the urban music labeled by Isnay Rodríguez, Dj Jigüehad opened doors for him with the AfroRazones album (2017) AfroRazones (2017), en el que El Individuo interpreta Mi Razaa song that became the single of the album, and that it contained in itself the whole concept of the album. Abroad they adored him: they reviewed in Remezcla, in Vibe, in Track Record, and his songs were included in playlists of NPR ALT Latino, of several North American stations, and in The New York Times. 

From there to rapping on international stages is very little. So it was. 

"I always say that the return is a bit strong, to go through all those countries, to see how people connect with what you are doing, to go to television, radio programs, where people - that for nothing I think I deserve it— maestroHe is a teacher, and returning is a bit strong, because one where he wants to work the most is here. In Colombia, for example, they like Cuban rap, any Cuban rapper who is going to be the bomb. What you have to say: see how they download us in Colombia and Cuba ... it's super crazy. 

"In Europe (Germany, France, Belgium), what worried me most was the language, because I work so much on the speech, I was worried that the message did not come to them, but the music did, because I try to make it sound like Cuban hip hop, and the people super connected with what is happening, and they said to me: what best suits me about your work is that you bring fresh Cuba, the Cuba of now; and it was because of the music, because they didn't understand what I was saying. There I realized that yes, keeping that idea, I am doing something that can be sold, that people may like. And I want to achieve here what I achieved there. "

"Why is that difficult to achieve here?"

—Part of the blame belongs to the rappers themselves; I think rap in Cuba is a very jealous genre, to the point that sometimes it does not want to collaborate with other genres, it gets into the bubble that I am an underground rapper and I do things with a bad audio, in a bad place because This is how rappers do it,and perhaps that somehow makes them marginalize themselves. Another, that product of that schoolschool, which was a rather political rap, has created an image that all [rappers] give an aggressive political speech, and a political speech can be given, but it doesn't always have to be aggressive. So everyone does not express their ideas in the same way, but I think they have somehow generalized the movement with those ideas, and that is why we have also been censored in some places. The video Mi RazaMi Raza, for example, was censored here. 

(( Under my skin blood that crossed seas to be a slave / and the hand of the one who nailed a dagger on his oppressor / the courage of those who battled a tyrant / the coldness of Maceo in front of a Spanish rifle / the oratory of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, the value of Quintín, the writing of Juan Gualberto Gómez / the Black Panther Party with the Independents of Color, both engraved on the same pullover. ))

"Institutions are as guilty as we are."

- Is there a hip hop movement in Cuba recognized as such today?

—Yes, I think there is a movement, but it is not organized, and also does not know how to work as a movement, but I do believe that it exists. We have gone out to the province a lot, and when we go to the festivals, by our means, we participate, and some people work together, who want to do it. After I signed with Guámpara, who already has the experience, who knows how to work with musicians, we already knew what we wanted. I'm talking about that production job; I did not know what an EP was, for example, for me it was a record and now, learn how to release an EP, a single, to what subject you should make a video, how to make a launch concert, how to give promotion ...

- But the public in the provinces is different?

-Yes of course. Some say that rap does not like in Cuba, it does like it, what there is is to put a little production and seriousness to work, and that is what happens to us in the province. The province festivals do have production, a good stage, attention with the artists, and when the public sees that they get to see what is happening, and if what is happening is interesting, of course it stays. Then you realize that rap is being done in Cuba and it is interesting.

- Why in Havana does not happen the same?

- Precisely because they don't pay attention to these things in Havana. Every time there is an event in Havana it is: yes, put two speakers and a microphone, although it sounds bad ... I have had experience with that, because I have done concerts in the Cuba Pavilion with Albertico Lescay, with other artists that They have invited, and when I wanted to do my concert they said no, that the place I had to do the concert was La Madriguera, you realize that somehow they also marginalize us.

This October the Individual will release Bailathe second single from Soy Soy that will be put to the national public's consideration, and in November it will then be the turn of the entire EP.

"Soy " It is released with the seal of Guámpara, but we recorded it in our studio, which is called El Espacio. The production was a team: Rasciel Aldama, Dany Arce, Dj Lápiz, JD Asere, always in the custody of El Jigüe It has five themes, and the first idea was to show what I wanted to do in this independent project. "

In Dale Taller says That rap is poetry and that poetry is art, although I know that many do not share that theory / that is why in theory I continue to risk living from this art / although its fruits still do not fill my piggy bank. And some statement:: If you are a thing/thing to learn you should / is that rapper does not rhyme with cowardice, / rhymes with hope, resistance, effort, peace, wisdom / and those are things that I did not even know..

In addition to Dale Taller, De Toyo y en Talla and Baila, the EP Soy has two more themes: Se va complicando and Eres para mí, where the Individual shows "a more poetic side", if you like, and "more musical" Like a sad smile or like a happy crying / a hairless beard or infidelity of the faithful / a blind look, a kiss without touching your lips / the vertical horizon or an ignorant sage. O: Or: Like a mirror without reflection, an old twenty-year-old / it hurts, I do not complain, it impacts and I am not perplexed / as a troubled celebration flies my soul / without finding calm because it knows that you are still far away..

"I like that in my albums there is variety, that all the songs are not the same way, because that's how I organize my concerts as well." 

How would you like to be heard Soy? Soy?

—The public identifies a lot with the things I write, and that is what I hope, that they identify themselves and serve them as something; I don't like to write for writing, even to dance and forget your sorrows.

The individual. Photo: Courtesy of the artist.

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