JA musicians of Cuban origin

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JA musicians of Cuban origin

Postby Roman » Tue Aug 20, 2013 11:51 pm

I have one interesting question for you guys:

How come so many Jamaican musicians were of Cuban origin?

Here are a few examples:

Rita Marley
Alvin "Seeco" Patterson
Tommy McCook
Roland Alphonso
Laurel Aitken

Is it a result of some sort of massive immigration waves from Cuba to Jamaica?

Why (and of course when) did people leave Cuba for Jamaica?

How come their names (especially their last names) don't sound Cuban @ all? Exept for Rolando Alph(f?)onso - that sounds 100% Cuban/Hispanic.

I know Laurel used to sing in Cuban Spanish with an almost unnoticeable touch of Jamaican accent:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9mJhIrf2jtU

but what about the others? Do/did they speak Spanish which must have been their mother tongue?
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Re: JA musicians of Cuban origin

Postby jb welda » Wed Aug 21, 2013 12:32 am

Jamaica and cuba have always been close neighbors and friends so maybe the immigration was more or less natural? I didn't know any of those people were Cuban by birth but it seems logical

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Re: JA musicians of Cuban origin

Postby Roman » Wed Aug 21, 2013 2:31 am

I don't think it's so easy Jah Bill. Cuba is the largest island in the Carribean but also the most isolated one since 1959. Cuban citizens are not allowed to leave the country without a special permission from the state which is extremely hard / almost impossible to get. The average monthly salary in Cuba is around 20 USD - don't forget about that very important fact because without money you can't go anywhere in this world. Cuba has diplomatic relations with Jamaica but it doesn't really mean anything to the majority of Cubans. Most of them have never left the island. I don't know how things were before the 1959 revolution but it's very important to remember that Cubans and Jamaicans

- Speak different languages and therefore don't share exactly the same culture
- Cubans usually define themselves as Latinos while Jamaicans see themselves as West Indians.
- black Cubans are more mixed with Europeans than black Jamaicans and there are no Afro-orientated political movements nor political parties in Cuba. They are simply not allowed, illegal and of course strongly persecuted by the government, just like any other political parties exept for the ruling one. The members of the Cuban government are predominantly white (Hispanic) while the rest of the Cuban polulation is predominantely black/of mixed race. If you say it loud you'll end up in jail very easily. Rasism is institutionalised and the more you approach the top of the society pyramid the whiter it gets. If you sing a song about it and try to perform it for a wider audience (which is impossible because everything is strictly controlled by the state) I almost guarantee that you'll go to jail for counter-revolutionary actvities.

- Cubans and Jamaicans drive on different sides of the road just like British and Spanish.

As you can see there are many differences between Cuba and Jamaica. The crime rates are lower in Cuba than in JA, but that's partially because the Cuban state wants to protect it's primary source of income which is tourism. Lots of policemen are constantly partolling the streets of Habana and I've heard about people getting 15 - 20 years of prison for robbing a tourist without causing him/her any physical injuries.

But I am mostly interested in how things were before the Revolution because all of the above-mentioned musicians were born before 1959.
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Re: JA musicians of Cuban origin

Postby jb welda » Wed Aug 21, 2013 3:57 am

yes that is probably all true and also true the time period we would be talking about might be pre-revolution. but in the 70s or the 80s cuba and ja had a joint venture going on with the Lada auto company of USSR to build cars and I think there was some, maybe not a lot, of immigration going on from that.

as an aside I visited cuba in the late 80s and as an American it was not easy; had to go in through mexico city and not have my passport stamped with a visa, and the only reason I got to do that is I travelled with my then-girlfriend who was a nurse with major political persuasions and she went as a guest to tour the medical facilities in cuba and see their socialized medical model. I sometimes accompanied her on her field trips during the day but mostly hung around Habana with a "guide", actually more a keeper, but he was cool and what I saw there was very impressive compared to Jamaica I would say. people were poor but content it seemed and very up for partying, which we did pretty much every night, at random clubs and peoples homes (some high ranking officials but most were just ordinary Cuban citizens). the oppressive atmosphere I expected was not a reality, and the streets were safe to walk anywhere anytime by male or female, in groups or alone. quite a lot different from wandering around Kingston. since you lived there you no doubt had a much more complex feel for the place than me, but I was very impressed that people lived good lives and respected America and americans despite our ongoing stupider than stupid embargo that persists to this day, and I would have to say the average Cuban I met seemed much happier than the average urban dwelling American I have met.

but none of this answers your question and I don't think I can other than pointing out, redundantly, the close political ties especially when manley and the PNP were in power in ja. does seem strange when considering all the aspects you point out though.

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Re: JA musicians of Cuban origin

Postby swaby » Wed Aug 21, 2013 7:13 am

I think Rico was also born in Cuba.
The ties between the 2 countries go back a long way when Jamaicans used to go and help with the cane harvest in Cuba. My wife's family lost an uncle doing such work who was there during the revolution in 1959 and was never heard of again, presumed dead.
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Re: JA musicians of Cuban origin

Postby dan i dubdub » Wed Aug 21, 2013 7:44 am

Rico Rodriguez was born in Cuba, you are right Swaby.
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Re: JA musicians of Cuban origin

Postby Anbessa » Wed Aug 21, 2013 7:54 am

Prince Alla's father, although of Jamaican origin, was born in Cuba too.
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Re: JA musicians of Cuban origin

Postby grubby mits » Wed Aug 21, 2013 8:20 am

Used to be a lot of trade between the two and many jamaicans have a cuban parent. Spent some time in Cuba exploring the reggae community in Havana, A difficult and complicated place, simply having dreads could be enough to get you arrested. I tried to make a film with Gladdy wax about it a few years ago. His mother was cuban though he has never been there and we hoped to take him and his sound to play a series of dances around the island. Sadly never managed to get the cash together though we did make a trailer in Havana/London. Must dig it out
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Re: JA musicians of Cuban origin

Postby grubby mits » Wed Aug 21, 2013 8:33 am

Also true that in the early 80's were quite a few cultural exchange projects and many jamaican students travelled to Cuba to study
@ Roman, other reasons for low crime are
- little or no drugs trade
-nothing to steal since no-ones got anything
-no culture of organised crime as castro emptied the prisons and sent most of the criminals to the US

@jb I am glad to hear you didn't experience an oppressive regime but have to say I have seen it at first hand and its not pretty. While cubans have much to be thankful for- low crime, great healthcare and education etc Cuba is essentially a prison and any resistance to the system, real or percieved is treated with extreme severity. People are not free and sadly there are thousands of dead bodies in the sea between cuba and Miami to prove it
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Re: JA musicians of Cuban origin

Postby kalcidis » Wed Aug 21, 2013 9:02 am

I always found it surprising that Cuban music didn't influence Jamaican music much more. The influence is quite apparent on earlier music from the 60's and so forth but in the 70's and onwards it feels almost non-existent (with the exception of deejays such as Early B and Peter Metro chatting in Spanish). Weren't Jamaicans able to intercept radio broadcasts from Cuba? I think I recall reading it somewhere.
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Re: JA musicians of Cuban origin

Postby capullo » Wed Aug 21, 2013 9:32 am

i must add that havana is a latino town while santiago de cuba is a caribbean town (ambiance wise). in santiago at night one can see the lights of kingston. there is much more reggae in santiago. though i hardly know santiago myself.

@kalcidis - can you give me some titles of those spanish tracks?
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Re: JA musicians of Cuban origin

Postby underated » Wed Aug 21, 2013 12:35 pm

I don't think Che took kindly to 'Imperialist Music'
Check out the words of an exiled Cuban Musician.


(Hollywood's Sick Love Affair with Che Guevara)

http://youtu.be/DUOFS_5d1PE
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Re: JA musicians of Cuban origin

Postby kalcidis » Wed Aug 21, 2013 1:35 pm

capullo: It's not whole songs but more a few lines in Spanish. Ironically the only example I can think of right now is perhaps »Gone A Mexico«...

»The doctor say habla and habla means I speak!«
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Re: JA musicians of Cuban origin

Postby Roman » Wed Aug 21, 2013 1:48 pm

underated: very interesting video. Things have changed since 1960s/70s and in today's Cuba you can listen to any kind of music you like unless it's obviously anti-governmental/anti-Castro.

capullo: unfortunately I've never been to Santiago

kalcidis: I don't think it was easy for Jamaicans to buy records by Cuban artists back in 1970s and I also guess Jamaican radio broadcasts were dominated by music from the US and not from Cuba. Also, don't forget about the language barrier that exists between Cubans and Jamaicans.
///Weren't Jamaicans able to intercept radio broadcasts from Cuba?////
Of course they were, but the thing is that most people aren't really interested in listening to radio broadcasts in a language they can't understand.

So of course they were, just like Cubans were/are alble to intercept radio broadcastes from the US.

Radio y Televisión Martí is a radio and television broadcaster based in Miami, Florida, financed by the United States government (Broadcasting Board of Governors), which transmits anti-Castro propaganda to Cuba in Spanish. Its broadcasts can also be heard in the United States.


grubby mits:

///@ Roman, other reasons for low crime are
- little or no drugs trade////
Things are changing. To the worse.

///-nothing to steal since no-ones got anything////
There's always something to steal, especially from tourists )

///-no culture of organised crime as castro emptied the prisons and sent most of the criminals to the US////

That was 30+ years ago and many things have changed siince then

///While cubans have much to be thankful for- low crime, great healthcare and education etc ////

Great healthcare and great education... Well... It's all in the past now, at least for the wide majority of Cunbans. The corruption has taken over both health care and the system of education.
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Re: JA musicians of Cuban origin

Postby jb welda » Wed Aug 21, 2013 3:14 pm

a bit of Spanish chat at front of virgin frontline version of mighty diamonds "bodyguard". darned if I can remember more but like kalcidis says early b used to chat in Spanish and a few other djs as well

that Muriel (sp?) boatlift thing was really a royal **** up. we (America) welcomed with open arms all the criminals and insane that castro sent over and we called it a victory. castro called it stupid yanks. I think he was right. it used to be the butt of many jokes around CPUSA which my gal ran the west coast chpt of.

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