In between making business moves in New York City, Afro-Cuban All Star Juan de Marcos González stopped by Hot 97 for an eye-opening chat with Ebro in the Morning. A central force behind the Buena Vista Social Club, the Grammy Award-winning artist set the record straight about Fidel Castro’s legacy, weighed in on the future of Cuba, and shared details regarding his upcoming projects with a solo Ebro Darden. Here are our top five takeaways:
His next live album is slated to drop in April:
The seasoned live performer is planning to release new music in the spring. “No autotune,” he said of his project. A studio version is scheduled to drop no later than September.
Cubans aren’t one-sided when it comes to Fidel Castro’s legacy:
When Fidel Castro passed away in November, a sea of Cuban-Americans flooded the streets of Miami to celebrate, while Cubans at home appeared to be in mourning. However, Castro’s legacy isn’t black-and-white according to Juan de Marcos. “Fidel was a politician. You can hate him or you can love him,” he said, pointing out how the same principle applies to leaders in the United States like President Barack Obama and president-elect Donald Trump. “[Castro] made mistakes, and he made a lot of good things for the Cuban people to a point,” he later continued.
He fears the Americanization of Cuba:
While unopposed to a free Cuba, Juan de Marcos worries that the country will return to a neo-colonial state as it begins to break down the walls of isolation. “We don’t want to see McDonald’s and Starbucks because our coffee is better,” he asserted, adding that he hopes the island preserves its independence.
Race is a point of contention for Cubans at home and abroad:
While the music giant doesn’t believe race is the biggest issue among Cubans, he does affirm that it is a problem. “If you’re dark skinned, it’s not likely that you can get a very good position related to where the money is,” he explained. The topic becomes more complicated abroad, as Juan de Marcos attests that in the eyes of some African Americans, his ethnicity supersedes his race. “‘No, you’re Hispanic. You’re Cuban. You’re not black,'” he mimicked.
He believes Cuba is the most African country in the Americas:
In spite of the debate, Juan de Marcos thinks no one in the Americas comes close to Cuba when it comes to keeping its roots intact. “We preserve the religion. We preserve the culture. We play the drums in the same way as in four centuries or five centuries ago.”
Tune in to the full interview here: