Reggaeton vs. Nueva Trova

Alfredo Fernandez

HAVANA TIMES — In a song from the ‘60s, Silvio Rodriguez said something like, “I remember when they interrupted me and Noel (Nicola) asking us to play old ballads by Armando Manzanero.” He then went on to criticize the leaders of the incipient revolution, who should have been working above all for the good taste of the population.

That was the first image that came to my mind a few days ago after reading an email sent to me from Cubans on the island. They were talking about what happened on November 16th in Ciego de Avila Province, where people were supposed to celebrate a concert marking the 45th anniversary of Nueva Trova.

The young trova singers who were featured there got a nasty surprise when they saw the supposed audience — composed of younger people and teens — force them to cancel the concert with their repeated and upsetting manner of asking that those trova tunes be replaced by the now omniscient rhythms of reggaeton.

In his song from the ‘60s Silvio was asking for such an exquisite goal as the banishing of bad taste from Cuba forever, but what has happened fifty years later is that we have the exact opposite. The young people didn’t only interrupt the 45th anniversary celebration of Nueva Trova in Ciego de Avila, they paralyzed it by asking for the rhythm of the day – reggaeton.

Could this — and not trova — be the true rhythm of revolution? These are processes that take power by force, that rule by force and end up making bad taste their best ally.

The reasons why the young people in Ciego de Avila wanted reggaeton, even when they were at a trova concert, are the same reasons that Cuban citizens have chosen to leave, be quiet or what’s worse, wait, right where everything should be debate, analysis, demands and even protest.

When a society transfers its duties to another one with more value and presumably with less to lose, what remains is the open pathway to bad taste, vulgarity and what’s worse, the non-recognition of spaces.

Human beings who have developed their subjectivity under the influence of simulation end up having major conflicts when it comes time to identify the category of spaces, events and everything related to their behavior.

I’m of the opinion that the ultimate blame for what happened in Ciego de Avila isn’t reggaeton, but a society steeped in misinformation, in the bad training and no doubt that soon, very soon, will enter a period of violence.


Alfredo Fernandez

Alfredo Fernandez: I didn't really leave Cuba, it's impossible to leave somewhere that you've never been. After gravitating for 37 years on that strange island, I managed to touch firm ground, but only to confirm that I hadn't reached anywhere. Perhaps I will never belong anywhere. Now I'm living in Ecuador, but please, don't believe me when I say where I am, better to find me in "the Cuba of my dreams.

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4 thoughts on “Reggaeton vs. Nueva Trova

  • The deeper problem facing the Castro regime is that once the youth cut their teeth rebelling against government censorship of reggaeton, they will have whet their appetite for rebellion of a more serious sort. America’s ruling elite of the 60’s tried to stop rock n’ roll and ended up fighting anti-war protests. Could the Cuban teen today who screams for the right to listen to reggaeton become the anti-Castro protester in five years? One can only hope.

  • We were having an (almost) similar discussion about the quality of Reggaeton on a Ravsberg post. I admit I was happy before I actually listened to this and learned that it’s pretty popular on Cuba and Porto Rico. Yuck. I also ‘discovered’ an equally unremarkable ‘metal’ with ‘attitude’ band on facebook: Avenged Sevenfold. At least with the latter it’s great to poke fun at – ‘poser’ rock at its best.

  • Reminds me of the scene from “The Blues Brothers” where they are miss-booked into a dodgy Country-and-Western roadhouse and, when they start playing the blues, the audience gets a bit rambunctious. Luckily, the Blues Brothers knew a few maudlin C&W standards, and were able to avoid being lynched!

  • Why would the younger generation prefer reggaeton over Nueva Trova?

    The forbidden fruit of youth is always more attractive than their grandfather’s bland diet.

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