The very first single from the forthcoming AfroRazones mixtape sets the project's tone. "Mi Raza" is a blistering personal history from the rapper El Individuo, about what it means to be a black Cuban or, as he says, afrodescendient. It's the first of 11 more tracks on the AfroRazones hip-hop and R&B compilation project that unpack black identity in Cuba, to protect it and also boost transnational solidarity at a peculiar political moment for the slowly-opening island nation, as well as the world. With the help of DJ Jigue, AfroRazones was created last summer in Havana by Cuban and U.S.-based artists (including FADER contributor Luna Olavarría Gallegos) as the effects of diplomatic changes began to trickle down to the people.
As more individual Cubans will be able to present their country to the world, there's an increasing effort to ensure Afro-Cuban identity is both archived and pushed to the fore. AfroRazones is thereby rooted in resistance, and encourages curiosity.
"Not only the song, but this whole album is so important because the majority of the artists on it are from the 'New School,'" El Individuo told The FADER in an email. "We have to know where we are coming from and where this music comes from so that we can know to where we can go. Cubans have an African legacy that we can see through our music and every aspect of who we are, but in the case of rappers, I think it's double. I don't think afrodescendents left the same legacy in the United States that they did here [in Cuba], and I think that for rappers there's a mix of what impacts us. I think that's what is happening on the disc and on the track — a mix."
Stream AfroRazones in full on April 28, 2017 on Spotify, Apple Music & Tidal