Cuba has Talent
As some of you may know I just got back from Cuba. Before I left on my trip, I asked my only contact in Cuba to help me set up a party. My plan was to host a freestyle party and invite some dope emcees in Havana to join in. To make it more attractive, I supplied the booze and paid them to come to my party. This produced some music that I’m very proud of. But we also had a meeting of the minds. What follows is my address to the rappers that showed up for the party.
Requerda La Lucha
Message to the Cuban Rappers
Welcome to my party!
This is an amusing paradox: you are guests at my party, and I am a guest in your country. And, if you consider the brief span of human life, we are all guests on this planet.
In the few days that I’ve been here, I can truly say that I love Cuba. The spirit of the people has touched me in a heartfelt way. You may find it strange when I tell you this, but outside of knowing that I wanted to throw this party, I came to Cuba without any preconceived ideas, or any kind of agenda. If I did have a goal, it was a very general one. I wanted to improve my meager Spanish. But for that I could have gone to any Spanish speaking country—to Nicaragua, for example, as I had originally planned. But something drew me here instead. It was the right move. Cuba is where I should be.
My friends and family don’t exactly know where I am. I cut off all communication with everyone because I wanted to be completely here in this moment with you. Now, bear with me when I say this— but I feel certain that I’ve lived here before! Perhaps in another life, or in a parallel life, but I feel certain that I’ve been here before.
Like I said, it’s crazy. I don’t know why I’m here. But something attracted me— some mysterious electro-magnetic force brought me to your country. On an intuitive level, I knew that something special would happen, and it’s happening! This party is a part of that unfolding.
My friends, I propose that we are making history tonight. History is not made by political gestures, but by socio-dynamic forces. Here in Alfredo & Julietta’s backyard— with a talking parrot and a pet alligator—we’re transcending national boundaries and building bridges of friendship across the world, in this case, from Havana to the San Francisco Bay Area. What to an outsider would seem like a little freestyle session is for us, a heart to heart conversation; a spiritual discourse on U.S./ Cuban relations. That’s the power of hip-hop. It’s an international passport to go anywhere. If you have skills and you can spit, you can enter any cipher. It transforms strangers into friends and family. That’s the alchemy of hip-hop. We speak intelligently through our hearts in rhythmical waves that are electrocardiographs of consciousness. We feel each other in the deepest sense.
The ancient Egyptians believed that the “heart was the seat of intelligence.” A rapper from the United States doesn’t have to know Spanish to feel the intelligence in what a Cuban rapper is saying. Your intelligence comes across in the execution of your delivery.
That’s why I say we’re making history. This reunion is a significant step forward in effecting positive change in the world. That’s what hip-hop can do. It can awaken people to their own power. As far as being a uniting force, and bringing people from all over the world together, hip-hop may be more powerful than any religion. The reason I say this is that hip-hop, real hip-hop shorn of its bling and glamour, is a meritocracy, a worldwide movement rooted in authenticity.
Please believe me, I have nothing against fine jewelry and diamond-encrusted watches, but that’s not what brought us here. Everybody here tonight is an authentic rapper. It comes with the territory. I can feel it emanating from you. Authenticity requires courage and it comes with a price. You’re not always going to be poplar or famous. But that shouldn’t faze you guys. You’re not the masking-wearing type.
News flash: this just in— a tidal wave of material wealth is heading in your direction. When it hits, it will turn artists into celebrities. So my message to you tonight is this: don’t lose sight of who you are. To quote Public Enemy, don’t believe the hype.
To my mind, an artist can only be great if he makes himself vulnerable to censure, and risks failure. In today’s world, truth telling is in short supply. So putting your ass on the line is a heroic act. But the people that are starving for something genuine will love you for it. They’ll celebrate your talent, and shower you with respect. Your authenticity is your soul. Please don’t lose it when the dollars start flying.
Havana, Cuba 1-24-15
M.C. Mars © 2015