Image Credit: PanAm
The progression of the Cuban Hip Hop scene is stinted, thanks to a totalitarian government that controls the media. David Escalona (a.k.a David D’Omni) and his Rap group Omnizonafranca have had enough. Escalona and his collective that consists of six other rappers, made the journey from Cuba to Panama to speak out against the struggles they face as Hip Hop artists in the Communist country.
The Hip Hop artists visited the Seventh Summit of the Americas this weekend with the hopes that their visit would spark a change in the policies of their home country. Policies that currently restrict them from expressing themselves freely.
While in Panama, the collective spoke to The PanAm Post about the struggles that artists currently face, and their hopes for change in the future.
“When you do hip-hop in Cuba, you already know you won’t be able make a living from it. If someone does hip-hop in Cuba, it’s because that person has something to say,” Escalona said.
In their home country the Hip Hop artists struggle to make a living, playing small, secret shows in friends’ houses or in other obscure venues. Though their gigs may be small, the message that they send is a big one as they speak out against their government; many of them have face prosecution and censorship. Given this strict regime; even travelling to the summit was a risk in itself.
Hip Hop has gained popularity in Cuba as a response to the traditional folkloric music having become corrupted by the Castro regime; so the right for artists like Escalona to be able to express themselves is becoming ever more important.
“What we come across are natural obstacles, that we ought to view these, to a point, in a relaxed way,” Escalona says. “Given that we live in a society, sometimes these natural obstacles can be censorship. Especially when we have a totalitarian government that controls the radio, the television, the economy. In that case, what’s left for the river is to evaporate and rain elsewhere. That’s what we’ve done.”
After their interview with The PanAm Post Escalona, Soandry del Río, and Silvito El Libre (son of famed Nueva trova artist Silvio Rodríguez) gave a concert to Panama’s City of Knowledge, an academic and technology hub, on Thursday, April 9.