1.QUEST_BY_JAURETSI_6304(LORES)

Questlove was the first person to reach me after President Obama’s announcement to normalize relations with Cuba on December 17, 2014 and ask to visit Cuba. His heart and soul has been invested in the island nation since their Havana performance in 2002, always dreaming of the day he’d go back. Enter April 2015, there was finally a hole in his exhaustive schedule, including Late Night with Jimmmy Fallon, tucked just after Coachella 2014. Cuba, here we come. It was a hell of a memory.

In addition to two nights of DJing, Questlove made good use of his time in Havana, engaging in extensive cultural research both by digging up some classic Cuban-made vinyl and by visiting the legendary EGREM studios, where most–if not all–of those classic sessions were recorded. Upon reading some of the comments on YouTube under this video, I noticed a random viewer nodding at the mini-doc while mentioning the other American rapper, Jay Z, and his visit. “Hova didn’t do shit but photo op in Cuba” wrote Ricardo Herrera. Harsh words, but penetratingly honest. It’s going to be the responsibility of each powerful US artist to truly look beyond the veil when visiting the island.

It seems the only action that Jay took was returning home and penning an “open letter” song to the US Administration. I cannot comment on any deep “conversations-on-the-ground” that Jay had in Cuba (maybe he did, maybe he didn’t), but nonetheless, it would have been informative to get a more robust report of his activities with the Cuban youth and personal insights he gained of their struggles today, beyond the cigars, 1950’s cars, and fluffy State tour. I’m not dissing on Jay because I am aware of his philanthropic efforts in other areas, however, my plea to Hova is, “Don’t sleep on Cuba”. Visiting is not good enough. Go deeper. Especially the marginalized [and sometimes censored] hip hop scene, who need your guidance more than ever to speak their truths.

I’d like to thank the whole team who helped put this trip and video together. Let’s keep doing this!

Credits:

Directors: Jauretsi & Daniel Petruzzi
Cinematographer: Hector David Rosales
Sound Technician: Adrian Garcia
Editor: Jake Remingon
Executive Producer: Daniel Petruzzi for Okayplayer
Produced by: Edgar Productor n Jefe, Okayplayer, You and Me Inc.
Sugar Barons.
All Music Courtesy of: Edgaro Productor n Jefe & Maria Bacardi, MB Records

“Me Queda Voz (Instrumental)
Produced by Edgaro Productor n Jefe

“Cojimar” (Instrumental)
Produced by Edgaro Productor n Jefe

“Nunca Vida Mia”
Produced by Edgaro Productor n Jefe

“Nosotros” (Maria Bacardi Version)
Produced by Edgaro Productor n Jefe

Special Thanks to: EGREM, Fabrica de Arte Cubano, X Alfonso, Josue Garcia, La Rueda Producciones, Jorge Rodriguez, Joyce Alvarez aka Bjoyce, Tania Canet Iglesias, Cultural Island Travel

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(A Man whose “Soul is Fed”, Ahmir backstage after his DJ Performance at La Fabrica)

All photos: Jauretsi