By Mauricio Mendoza
HAVANA TIMES – Preceded by E.B.B.O, a record label that was born during the peak of Cuban rap. Winner of an award at the independent festival Punos Arriba, winning the 2016 album of the year category. Papagoza is back, after three years of apparently taking a break. This time he is back with new music that surpasses his former albums.
Retos (Challenges) is the title of this new album. With a renewed style, this MC brings fresh music to our ears and soul. Throughout the album, the lyrics with unique poetry get us thinking about the moment we are living, in different ways, without losing its art or falling into exhausted rhetoric.
This album is a snapshot of the reality of Cuban rap, right now. It tells us about the problems that rappers experience when trying to perform their work in public, the lack of places dedicated to this genre, the hardship of trying to make a living off this music and the audience’s disappointment, an audience which has waned in recent years.
During the musical journey the listener embarks on with this album, he also talks about the issue of race, reaffirming his pride in being an Afro-descendant, expressing what it’s really like for a black person to live on an island where racism has allegedly been wiped out, according to official discourse.
While this album doesn’t fall into the trap of being superficial, it reaffirms this by dealing with love towards a partner in its many variants, with a track that is extremely important in my opinion, given the fact that this feeling in all of its glory is the greatest force that makes the world go round. Another track you can’t miss out on are the verses dedicated to his son and the concepts he transmits to him with his poetry.
Other quite well-known artists were also invited onto the album, such as Sekou from the band Anonimo Consejo on the track “Lucha”, in which he talks about the fight for what you believe in and want. Jamal from Sector 25, JD Asere and el Individuo, Ley de Talion and Identidad Sin Nombre, were more of the brilliant and accepted collaborations on Retos.
JD Asere, Jamal, Albany and Papagoza himself, worked on producing the album, adding a rich dimensionality and musical variation to the CD, with classic Hip-Hop beats mixed with more modern sounds. JD Asere mixed and mastered the album at El Espacio.
On the whole, Retos is a great album that should be listened to for its wealthy soundscape and many topics, as well as the creativity that went into the songwriting. An album for both young people, the middle-aged or elderly, with messages that will make us reflect and relax at the same time.