It’s time to celebrate International Afro-Latin American, Afro-Caribbean and Diaspora Women’s Day by sharing an amazing multimedia project called AfroRazones. The 12-song album released in April digs into Black identity, resistance, representation and empowerment in Cuba.
The project is a space for artists to highlight the Afro-Latinidad in the island and other places.
“That Black people know that we are beautiful, that we are strong, that we are intelligent. This is very necessary,” singer Luz de Cuba said on a video at the AfroRazones website.
During the summer of 2016, U.S-based Cuban artists went to Cuba to meet with producer Isnay Rodríguez (also known as DJ Jigüe), executive director Luna Olavarria Gallegos and other artists to make this project a reality.
At the Guampara Studios in Havana —an independent music studio and label record owned by DJ Jigüe— the artists combined different sounds to bring a unique compilation album. Through Hip-Hop, spoken word, Rap and folkloric Cuban sounds, each song highlights Afro-Cuban resistance and what it means to be Black on the Island.
The lyrics of the song called “Negra y Qué?” (Black woman and so what?) empowers Afro-Latinas to be proud of their identity: “Me critican por ser Afro-descendiente, hoy yo canto por mi barrio y por mi gente,” the song says. “Negra, mucha honra, como vez que te parece orgullosa de mi raza.”
Among the 23 artists, producers and instrumentalists who created AfroRazones, there are seven Afro-Latina women who are part of this production.
Reyna Mercedes Hernandez Sandoval (La Reyna), rapper of the duo La Reyna y La Real explained how AfroRazones helped her express her experience as a Black woman: “My vision as a Black woman in this society and on top of that, being a rapper I always have so much to say about my life experiences, about everything I feel and how society sees me,” Reyna said.
AfroRazones also explores the difficulties many Cuban artists in the music industry go through when promoting their work in the digital world. As the internet becomes more accessible to Cubans, AfroRazones has held workshops to educate artists on how to promote their work through the digital work.