Your Production Jedi down in Cuba. Just shining light on all the people, places, and things helping shape the narrative today

Posts from the ‘Music’ category

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I first met Edgar when he was 16 years old in early 2000’s out of his bedroom making beats in the secluded neighborhood of Alamar (the Bronx of Cuba). Since then, his hunger and passion for music has grown and grown. Once the new kid on the block, he is now a forefather to Millennials making music in Cuba. His style has been shaped by a range of genres as its permeated the island, from traditional, raw guajiro, to rap music, and electronica. DJ and Producer Gilles Peterson once referred to Edgar as the “J Dilla of Cuba”, always pushing boundaries, maintaining Cuba’s sonic identity, yet redefining the new Cuban sound.

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Here at The New Cuba, Edgar is part of our stable of artist for various music productions, so we’re proud to give him a shout for this beautiful new portrait piece done by the crew at WeTransfer. The web series is called “The Creative Class” and features soulful artists and innovative minds in Cuba.

Watch the whole video here:

For more episodes of The Creative Class visit

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Hurricane Matthew just passed 1 week ago through both Cuba and Haiti, leaving major devastation in both our wakes. Record shopping in Havana a few days ago, this album seemed to have found me. Probably because my mind is there this moment. In Haiti, Cuba is already present and pitching in. Members of the Cuban Medical Brigade, some 648 Cuban doctors and other professionals, remain on site. They are expected to offer medical care and disease-prevention efforts in the aftermath of the storm, including a recent outbreak of Cholera.

In all these thoughts, I wanted Haitian music marinating in my home, and then this sleeve popped in my sight, so I took the calling. I had never heard of Martha Jean Claude before and it turned out her voice is so captivating, so I wanted to know more. I learned that this woman had deep connections to the Haitian people through her folkloric and voodoo lyrics. She was not just a actress, singer, dancer, but also a philanthropist and activist. As an avid speaker of the abuse of the masses, it led to her arrest in 1952. After her play “Anriette” was released, officials deemed it anti-government so she was imprisoned, and eventually released 2 days before the birth of her child. Fearing for her life, she exiled to Cuba in 1952 (before the 1959 Cuban Revolution) with her husband, Cuban journalist, Victor Marabel. Martha eventually became an international legend, touring Paris to New York to Angola using her soulful voice to share her protest music against injustice. After 3 decades in exile, the homesick Martha finally returned to her motherland in 1986 after the fall of Jean Claude Duvalier, where she held a legendary homecoming concert.

After that, she returned to Cuba, a place she called her second home — the name of her album: “Soy Mujer de Dos Islas” (I Am A Woman of 2 Islands). She passed away in her Havana home in 2001. I just recently discovered that Cuban Painter, Michel Mirabel calls Martha Jean Claude his “Mamita” (but she is truly his grandmother from his dads side). It’s a beautiful merging of both worlds since Michel’s artwork is coincidentally displayed on the first US approved credit card in Cuba (MC) issued by Stonegate Bank this year. Michel also received attention this Spring 2016 when Usher came to Cuba and visited his studio. Here’s a toast to riding on the shoulders of our ancestors, and pushing the storyline forward at all times.

This post is also a nod to the true Grand Dame of Haitian music, and the people who are keeping it real this week helping on the ground. Donate to Waves for Water (Matthew Haiti Relief) or follow @jon_rose to see his daily diary of providing clean water to people on the ground. To use his words “Basically it’s this simple — the more support we get, the more people get access to clean water. Period. Thank you to everyone who has stepped up to help us so far”.

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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 — including an afternoon of digging some vinyl, and a personal visit to the legendary EGREM studios, where most of those albums were originally recorded.

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


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

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

All photos: Jauretsi

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(Havana Surf Director Rod Diaz visits Sugar Barons Show this week)

This week we broadcasted from our usual spot, Miss Lily’s. In addition to the usual Cuban classics dropped every week, this weeks guest (February 22) was a documentarian who discovered a hidden pocket of surf culture near Havana. Director Rodrigo Diaz McVeigh came into the studio to share some of his trials and tribulations shooting this heartfelt scene in Cuba. Did we mention there’s no surf shops or surf reports in Cuba either?

Sugar Barons Show #3

cuando cuando cuando – nat king cole with xavier cugat
musico de alma – TNT Boys
como acustombro – la lupe
batman boogaloo – fajardo y su charanga
use it before you lose it – bobby valentin
querida bomba – johnny colon & orchestra
it’s not unusual – willie bobo
elation – willie bobo
cloud nine – mongo santamaria
mucho mucho mucho – perez prado
mapua (yuma)- tumba francesa
sway – dean martin
mellow yellow – xavier cugat
lets spend the night together – ovnis
dos letras – rafael hernandez
cold sweat – mongo santamaria
taxi to aguadilla – fania all stars

A Q&A with Rod Diaz & His Top 7 songs

hermosa habana – los zafiros
hoy como ayer – benny more
ya llego – composed by Jako for Havana Surf soundtrackk
aguanileo by sintesis
ojala by silvio rodriguez
mi hermosa Habana – Los Aldeanos (Aldo)
cambiara – x alfonso

Van Alpert (Writer) & Rodrigo Diaz McVeigh (Director) for Havana Surf

Photo by Wilki W. K. Tom
2012 WilkiIMAGE
Used by Permission
All Rights Reserved

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Years in the making… and officially launched. Last week was the first Sugar Barons Radio show, weekly selection of latin funk, cuban jazz, boogaloo, and classics. Here’s the playlist from my maiden voyage.

Expect some chat on current Cuban affairs as the show evolves with guests who visit the island on occasion for art projects. The show airs every Wednesday from 2-4pm at from the Miss Lilys collective. Two of the partners of the next door space (Miss Lilys Variety) are Serge Becker and Matt Goias. Together, they have honored the tradition of the Caribbean with a collector’s paradise of rare and essential Jamaican vinyl.

In addition to the awesome hard-to-find wax, the Variety shop boasts a borderline-obsessive selection of West Indian-inspired books, jewelry, and gifts. Matt Goias is also expertly curating a rotating program of photography, art, and graphics exhibitions — each spawning books, prints, and shirts to be sold out of the space.

The adjacent spot is called Melvin’s Juice Box (a juice bar) — altogether probably one of the best business models I’ve seen in my years in New York. The front space will be Miss Lily’s Variety shop (the West Indian record store-themed gallery and boutique) while the annex in the back is Melvin’s domain. If you don’t know Mr Melvin, well he’s another coup to the business – best hip juice bar in Soho now. Then there’s DJ Max Glazer manning the heavy rotation of radio DJ’s spinning caribbean flavor out of Radio Lily day and night, while Matt oversees the creative salon as den father.

Enough about the cool Lily’s men, you’ll get to know them all here in this blog as the show evolves, with special Sugar Barons guests illuminating us on Cuban affairs today. Here’s the music that scored our virgin show… launched with Mongo Santamaria’s “Me & You Baby (Picao y Tostao)”.

That’s right listeners. It’s Me & You baby… spicy and toasted!
The Baroness

p.s. Archived shows will go online soon. Stay tuned


Sugar Barons- Show #1

me and you (picao and tostado) – mongo santamaria
babalu – Slim gaillard
age of aquarius – celia cruz & tito puente
cachita – ali baba
deeper shade of soul – ray barreto
encantando de la vida – beny more
azuquita – guajira baran
regresare – celia cruz
unchained melody – la lupe
sway – perez prado & rosemary clooney
princess- mongo santamaria
soul foo yong – willie bobo
de eso nada monada – ray & his court
freeway mambo- perez prado
get out of my way – joe torres
fever – la lupe
santa barbara – celina y reutilio
cubano chant – cal tjader
imitations- mario bauza & friends
do the boogaloo – pete rodriguez y su conjunto
ochun- mongo santamaria
bailando despacito – katunga
ali baba – ali baba
guajiro de verdad – beny more
piel y canela – eydie gorme
tumbaloflesicodelicomicoso – celia cruz
guantanamera – johnny colon
son de la lloma – willy chirino


If you tuned in this Wednesday on, Feb 15th, from 2-4 pm in New York, our first guest was Andre Torres, Founder and Editor of Wax Poetics… a journal that us music nerds consider premium reading. Their current issue, “The Latin Issue” graced newsstands all month, with articles on Fania (the Latin Motown) to Eddie Palmeiri to Cal Tjader. Andre came and discussed the issue with corresponding music.

Every show asks our Latin enthusiast guests to bring in their Countdown challenge — “Name the Top 10 Albums that Changed Your Life… and why?” We expect to get schooled and entertained in the worlds of Latin funk, Cuban Jazz, Guajiro, and classics.

If I can master the multi-tasking — the decks, the guest, and the love… then I may occasionally check my Twitter handle Twitter/Jauretsi and respond to guests.

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It’s awesome when you can get social commentary combined with a swivel of the hips. These guys killed it. Welcome to the Rumba Rap protest by Michelito “EL VATICANO” de Cuba. Homeboy does not hold back any thoughts when speaking his mind. Michelito clearly and eloquently describes day to day life in Cuba, but he has some fun doing it. Serious drumming here.

If I had to compare Michelito to an American rapper, he’s reminiscent of early Busta Rhymes’ raspy explosive voice during Leader of the New School days. Imagine the “Scenario” monologue with a Cuban voice — (“Rrrarh Rrrarh like a Dungeon Dragon!”)… except Michelito’s party track is amped on the government’s injustice instead.

As you can tell, the music video is a bit rudimentary, so just close your eyes and listen to the jam… or you can genuinely watch an educational slideshow of today’s topics — overpacked camel buses, police harassment, low income, etc. Either way, it’s a wonderfully passionate piece of work — entitled “Cuba: Esto Que Cosa Es?!” (“Cuba, What is this?!”)

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