Somos Iguales: Cuban Hip-Hop in the Age of Social Networks [full paper]

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Latin American Music Center
Through occupation and trade during the last ten years, the United States and Cuba have absorbed facets of each other’s cultural profile. Two products of recent exchange in Cuba as a result of its relationship with the United States are the emergence of online social networks and the growth of Cuban hip-hop. In the US, social networking (through vehicles such as Facebook, Myspace and Twitter) is used as a method of communication and a marketing tool. Many small record labels primarily rely on this type of grassroots marketing to appeal to their web-savvy target audience. While rap musicians in Cuba do not always have the capability to commercially sell professionally mixed albums due to a dependence on government allocated musician’s funds and materials, and submissiveness to government’s jurisdiction over what music is publicly released, the accessibility of the internet and social networks make possible a release of music at an underground level. As a result, complete censorship becomes an impossible feat and these musicians are able to release their music nationally and internationally through this medium. In this paper, I explore the expansion in the use of new social media networks in Cuba and their role in burgeoning the commercialization of Cuban rappers and their music. I note the differences in social media’s influence for Cuban underground rappers versus commercial rappers and the resulting success, both culturally and financially. Finally, I discuss the transnational impact of music dispersed through social media in Cuba and compare it to an earlier model of government-mandated distribution.
Cultural, Conferencia, Cultural Counterpoints, Interactions, Latin America, Latin American Music Center, Music, Musical, Música, Música Latinoamericana, United States, Fiftieth Anniversary, 50th anniversary, Cuba, Hip-Hop, Social Networks
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