Though eminent among Cuban youth, reggaeton was forced underground after the government censored the “explicit” genre on television and radio back in 2012. That hasn’t stopped creative forces behind the sound from pushing it forward, however, as seen in Reggaeton Revolución: Cuba in the Digital Era. “People said that reggaeton wouldn’t last, but it’s here to stay,” reggaetonero Jacob Forever proclaims in the mini documentary.
Banned from state-run recording studios, artists step no further than their homes or other makeshift spaces to produce some of the nation’s biggest hits. “There’s no record label here that sign[s] hip-hop artists nor electronic music nor reggaeton,” music producer DJ Unic explains. “The urban scene isn’t important to them when it should be because so many people love it.”
Thanks to a nationwide file sharing system called “El Paquete,” new releases travel across Cuba week after week nevertheless. “In other countries you protect your music, but here we don’t,” Forever notes. “We give it out so everyone can hear it.”
Amid restored diplomatic relations with the U.S., Cuban reggaeton is predicted to gain more momentum despite the government’s wishes. “Cuba is a school. The greatest school in the world,” reggaetonera Patry White expresses with pride. “We don’t have all the resources, but we can do a lot with very little. Good things are coming.”