“Police, police you are not my friend,” sang 18-year-old Humberto Cabrera, a soloist known as Papa Humbertico. “For the Cuban youth, you are the worst nightmare … you are the criminal … I detest you.”
The Cuban duo “Alto Voltaje” (High Voltage) also sang out against the police and of boredom of Cuban youth.
“I’m tired of the routine,” sang Alexander Peruse and Norlan Leygonier, both 25. “How long is this going to last?”
They told the audience that on their way to the concert they were stopped by police officers and asked for their identification – a process they said Cuban youth experience almost daily.
The annual festival, which runs through August 18, features 50 Cuban and 12 foreign rap groups, organizers said.
Also confirmed for the festival is Latin rapper Vanesa Diaz, originally from California. She has said that the hip-hop movement in Cuba still retains the essence of the movement’s early years in the United Sates – as a vehicle for young people to express themselves through their own style of music.
Several thousand people attended the opening concert at an amphitheater in the heavily populated Lamar neighborhood August 15 just east of Havana. Concertgoers paid the equivalent of about a penny to attend the event.
Rap’s popularity in Cuba grew during the 1990s and has exploded in recent years to include as many as 500 groups across the island.