HOW AFRICAN MED STUDENTS CREATED A NEW GENRE OF CUBAN MUSIC
Music changes faster than it can be named. And it’s often random circumstances, like the 1977 New York City blackout that spurred hip-hop by putting music equipment in the hands of some Bronx DJs or the Casio preset that wound up jump-starting a reggae sound, that help create or shape genres in their nascence. In Cuba, such a serendipitous force has led to the emergence of a growing movement. Medical students from countries such as Angola, Ghana, and Nigeria — who have, for decades now, come to Cuba as part of higher education exchange programs —brought with them kuduro and afropop music. And in Santiago de Cuba, those students’ interactions with local musicians such as Ozkaro and Maikel el Padrino prompted bakosó, a Spanish-language take on afropop. The music — screeching synths, clattering rhythms, Auto-Tuned party melodies — is as enthralling as its origin story.