Photo: Eve North Photography.

Interview: El Individuo Brings Afro-Cuban Rap to the World

We talk to one of Cuba's most celebrated rappers about blending local and global sounds in his latest EP, 2020 Escribo.

I got sent El Individuo's ('The Individual') mobile number in Havana over WhatsApp. With 3G internet and Wi-Fi hotspots all over Cuba, everyone's using WhatsApp inside the island and to connect with the rest of the world. It is just easier to call El Individuo, whose lay name is Rafael Bou Lemus, without worrying about the cost of a call to Cuba over cellular data or a landline.

Cuba's ambivalent neoliberalism and Cuba's connection to the world define the rate at which urban Afro-Cuban music catches up with the musical flavours circulating the African diaspora. The same happens with the presence of our music in the hottest playlists in Spotify, iTunes, Tidal, Deezer, YouTube, TikTok or Bandcamp's The Hip Hop Show. Not as world music, but as a musical idiom with the prospect of global currency.

El Individuo, one of Havana's most relevant MCs, and his smart EP 2020 Escribo weather the storm.

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