Out of a woman-formed and led artists movement in Cuba comes Las Krudas – a rap trio, formed of 3 Cuban women.
Krudas is a derivation of the Spanish word “cruda” meaning crude, raw, unrefined, real; Cubensis is a Latin word for those of native Cuban descent. Cruda is precisely what these women are: they are raw, unrefined, and real. They celebrate and defend diversity, while actively engaging in a counter culture. Las Krudas practices what they preach.
Las Krudas is an interesting concept for several reasons. Firstly, they are Afro-Cuban. Racism is an enormous issue in Cuba, with Afro-Cubans living in the poorest areas, unable to work in the government, assume any managerial role, or work in tourism. Even the New York Times is reporting on the matter. In an article published on March 24, 2013, Roberto Zurbano writes, “Now, in the 21st century, it has become all too apparent that the black population is underrepresented at universites and in spheres of economic and political power, and overrepresented in the underground economy, in the criminal sphere and in marginal neighborhoods.”
Secondly, they are women. Without going too much into sexism, in the arts, women have continuously been designated a certain type of role. Some women artists have settled in the traditional pop-star or beauty-star role (see Britney Spears or the 18 Miss Universe winners since 1990 who did not represent USA, Canada, Australia, Norway, or Russia). Others have found a niche in American hip-hop, becoming megastars with substantial influence on young girls (see Mary J. Blige, Missy Elliot, etc.). But Las Krudas does not fit into these typical categories. The women of Las Krudas have carved a place for themselves in the arts, providing them unadulterated freedom in which to speak openly. Their music is highly empowering and directly confronts social norms generally ignored by most women artists.
Their music videos are inspiring – women unabashedly showing their stomachs, telling other women to free themselves of what is seen as standard. These women are courageous and act as a role model for other women to accept who they are.
Third, they are lesbians. They are out, they are proud, and they are not ashamed of being themselves.
Finally, they are Cuban. Historically, Socialist regimes have not allowed citizen empowerment, nor the freedom of expression. Las Krudas have taken the liberty associated with the present moment to clearly convey their thoughts of this social state, and of The State.
Las Krudas bring Cuban women into the forefront of conversations that have been systemically stifled. To those in power in Cuba, race and class issues have no place, as they do not exist. Women’s issues have always been non-issues and the women of Las Krudas are a driving force behind making issues of class, race, and gender a topic of discussion, not only in the arts, but also in the general sphere.
In an interview with a Cuban anthropologist, one of the members of Las Krudas, Odaymara, explains the typical reggaeton beats serve as an “escape valve for the reality that this is a hypocritical society that continues to sell women.” Las Krudas has intentionally removed themselves from the vulgarity and sexually explicit lyricism associated with reggaeton and created something that all women can get behind: music that does not attempt to tell women that they are only worth what their bodies can bring.
The lyrics are powerful, and provide a foundation for any one, of any gender, race, nationality, or class, to stand on and begin to fight for equality.
We shall remain here Krudas with our mission, the work
Representing all women with boundless will.
The ones that prefer papaya, that like the cobra
All denouncing together of this anxious life.
I rebel, I rebel, I rebel against that I rebel.
Against the power of the system I rebel, against supremacy I rebel.
Against a lack of love I rebel, against all injustice, I rebel.
THA PHAT GIRL
My beautiful body. Gigantic, excess, volume, to those who consume colonized bodies I have them stresses, see? You are gonna carry me? Oh please. You’ll get a hernia. I don’t hide if I’m going to eat. I have a womyn’s love.
Fattiness in war times, symphony attached the real ones, impossible vital, poetry to hide, fat floating as my Cuba in the middle of the sea. Heavy, as a brick son, so you go crazy, this is 90 kilos, come, come and say it.
Link to their SoundCloud:
by Catherine McGahan