What is it like being a woman in the Cuban hip-hop movement?

Alina Guzman on the life of a woman within the Cuban hip-hop movement:

“The life of a woman in the hip-hop movement is a bit difficult at the start. The problem is a the same time the sexism, is that they see you as weak, like you won’t be able to do things that supposedly one has to do. For instance, on the production side, I would hear: ‘But how are you going to produce an event if you have to carry a sound system?’ And I would say ‘It doesn’t matter, I’m going to carry it, I’m going to do it.’

But when they start to know you and they identify with you, they see that you can do things. Because, I didn’t have to carry the sound system: we have cars to transport things.

It can be difficult too in the sense that when I first started, they were very few women in the hip-hop movement. Las Krudas were doing hip-hop, because they were the first women doing it in Cuba. They’re really important in the genre now.

Now you have a small movement of around ten women doing hip-hop in the entire island, but the movement is growing.

I work with all of them, but I have worked more with the men. It’s crazy, isn’t it? Because instead of working with the women… I have never left any of them out of my projects, they have always been invited, featured. But I have worked more with the men because they were the ones starting, founding the movement – Las Krudas founded it too.

I identified more with the protest songs (made by the men). It’s difficult, when you identify with someone; but I have always promoted the hip-hop movement in its entirety.

I never left the women out, first because we belong to the same gender, and it is something I have to defend, and I don’t want to see them mistreated.

But you have within the hip-hop movement women that can ultimately be more sexist than the men are. Because they have committed themselves to singing against the men. Whereas when the male rappers write about women, it’s love songs.

It’s an ongoing debate, and a complicated one in Cuba. But I have organised a concert with both men and women and there wasn’t any gap between the two. They sang hip-hop, they were free and they sang whatever they felt like singing.

At the end of it, I listened to some of the feedback, and there was much confusion. But this is the essence of the movement, because by doing urban art we aim at defending a culture.

So what some can see as difficult can also be very simple at the same time. ”

 

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