Mírame / La Reyna y La Real
The rap made in Cuba has found itself in the dilemma of proactively denouncing its social anguish or simply turning it into its market strategy. Many easy ways have led to the rise and fall of promising Cuban rappers, of whom only a cartoonish pose remains.
Among the many topics, the genre has privileged political positions, life stories and the typical bluffing of battles. Other issues, such as racial status and racism, have often been displaced for being less commercial, denser, and not sparking debates that have been turned off by condescension. One of those approaches that would be more common is the work of the duo Obsesión, which has approached the phenomenon with works such as their song Los pelos (2005), and the highly controversial video that accompanied it.
In this sense of insufficiently treated issues, the gender discourse has fared even worse. The rap industry, both globally and in its glittering representation on the island, only admits women as long as they serve as an indulgent and sexual curtain for their male partner. The same as creators, accompanying voices or lyrical motifs, they are relegated to an archetype of passive subject whose relevance depends on the desire they manage to awaken.
That is why it is a bit surprising when, in a predominantly macho and secularly racist society, they rise up as black women. Despite choosing a genre of poses and traces, it is the case of La Reyna and La Real.
Although at the beginning of her career her speech already had highlights of originality, her lyrics were lost when trying to insert herself into the rap circuit with ways of being, saying and doing that were permeated by other models. Mírame - her most recent production, released under the Bis Music label on all digital platforms on April 30 - goes beyond the violent ego of the underground, the empty gesture of the sensual diva, and is not limited to a single musical scheme. It is an imperative, direct album. Not only do most of its titles appeal to a second person, but they come from an enunciative self that needs to reassert itself. This album is a personal statement.
With its ironic arrangement as the opening theme, Final is not only a prelude to the album itself but also a manifesto for the duo, their credential of maturity. In their rhymes, La Reyna and La Real know themselves to be the owners of a precise style, possessors of a message, a destination and a voice. All their perspectives take as a focal point their condition as women, rappers and blacks. The greatest virtue of Final and of the disc itself, in addition to its assumption of schemes and prejudices to break them, is to choose the enemies they fight very well. Not because it is anti-racist, the discourse is focused on the white subject, but on society and its oppressive schemes.
Although he drinks from her, Mírame tries to subvert the narrative of resentment and victimization, the burden of the objectification of black women. The patriarchal and repressive beauty is dismantled in this love letter to blackness. Soy ellas condenses the activism of the album. There is much to this issue of sameness, sisterhood and love over and above the competition for male attention and social approval imposed by machista patterns. The collaboration of Eme Alfonso not only makes this inclusive intention explicit as women, but also as creators. Mírame has a similar intention, a piece that summarizes the claiming sense of the phonogram. In the game of representations, what is not seen does not exist. The clear aspiration of this album is to show other options for black women, outside of the social destiny that is deceptively given to them. It invites them to abandon the marginality to which they have been confined and to look to a possible future in which to be empowered they do not need to bend. This posture, obviously, has to come from a personal epiphany that translates into creativity.
This is a repetitive album, but not redundant, and in that sense there are several tracks that show a more finished lyric based on their speech and are accompanied by neat melodic lines. This is the case of Mírame, where rap meets jazz, its nurturing mother; o Foy ellas, with nods to house and Final, with the inclusion of Vocal Luna for the background choirs. However, the easy rhymes in some verses and the use of common places (the association of black with the drum, "sun, tobacco, rum, religion are part of religion") somewhat detract from this work. Other pieces, on the other hand, seem the daughters of an epidermal and isolated analysis of the whole.
Tracks like Chao papito and Cómprate un freno drink from the most popular and commercial trends of the genre, in which the female figure is objectified and sexualized more crudely. La Reyna and La Real take typical phraseologisms from popular slang - “Buy yourself a brake, you crazy”; "Go fast and I don't understand / the size she's getting into", "Going down to your house" - to reinvent her code. In Chao papito, a track in which they play with the most popular urban music schemes, but rethought to their liking and whim, the same thing happens: "leave the lie and the inflatable, baby" / "you know daddy, half a monarchy up". In this piece they dare, challenge, play. In addition, it is very interesting the dismantling of that custom — patronizing and macho — of giving children to women, underestimating them. The truth is that in these ten themes there persists an eagerness to explore identity in a female subject determined both by her racial and creative condition. In these apparent changes of tone, those possible identities split and complement each other.
Mírame is a musical amphisbena. Much influences this virtue its musical diversity under a unity of style. Its coherence and dramaturgy respond to the concept outlined by Jorge Luis Lagarza, who from the time of production knew how to complement the lyrics of its authors with the sounds of jazz, quizomba, funk, rock and house. Its quality in the sound superposition is also undeniable. Not in vain the mastering and mixing belong to Rolando Francisco García Martínez, Bosito, who has already tried his retro and fresh sound at the same time. Extra applause for the guitar of Alberto Torres and the bass of Rafael Aldama in Ya no siento nada.
La Reyna and La Real know that they open the doors to other women in the industry and join a necessary counter-hegemonic movement that, better late than never, is already advancing on the Island. Mírame is the product of that prosperous nonconformity that the duo has turned in activism. I don't think this is going to be their best work, because if something preludes the album it is the creative future of its authors. For now I am content to say that this album is a happy song that combines the black female experience in the contemporary Cuban scene.
Gladys M. Quesada
Licenciada en Filología Española, Locutora, Guionista. Máster en Ciencias de la Comunicación. Convencida de que existe vida fuera de la Tierra y de la vida. Crespa por convicción, Filóloga por vocación. Consumidora voraz de series y música. Eternamente, niña guajira.More posts