Music is probably my favorite thing in the world to talk about, and I could do it all day if you let me. I am usually unabashedly opinionated, for better or for worse, but every time I talk about my favorite Cuban rapper, El Individuo, I feel the need to issue a disclaimer: He is also the love of my life.
Does that discredit my claims of his excellence? Or, considering that I know him and his music better than most, does it just strengthen my conviction that he is one of the most eloquent, intelligent, and disciplined rappers that Cuba has produced in years, and that you should all run to listen to his new single Reacciona right now because it is deeply poignant?
I’d like to think that it’s the latter. Please humor me, and allow me to explain.
(But first, please go listen to this song!)
Rap music can be rebellious, it can be political, it can be vulgar. But it can also be poetic, prolific, profound. My teenage years were spent listening to legends like Mos Def, Talib Kweli and Common, artists whose songs have depth, tell stories, impart knowledge. Then there’s Kendrick Lamar and Residente, two more artists whom I deeply admire for their brains as much as their rhymes.
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And then there is El Individuo, a gifted yet humble rapper who has spent over a decade nurturing this incredible ability he has for making music that speaks to people’s hearts — a product of hard work, dedication, persistence and of course, talent. “Reacciona” is our first taste of a new sound that has been slowly maturing over the last two years and finally ripened during the height of the pandemic. In “Reacciona” he raps about the state of our planet, our beautiful Mother Earth that we have pushed to an edge, and about how we are now living through the consequences of such disregard.
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As it turns out, I happen to know the guy, and I was able to ask El Individuo a few questions about his music, below. And if you’d like to hear more, his EP “2020 Escribo” comes out on December 18th, and I promise that it’s his most prodigious work yet. I truly hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I do.
Why do you call yourself ‘El Individuo’?
I came up with the name El Individuo because I narrate experiences and stories that can be the experiences and stories of any individual, I am just the spokesperson for them.
Who is your favorite rapper, or who has influenced you most?
My favorite rapper is, without a doubt, Jay Z, but nowadays I feel quite influenced by the music of Kendrick Lamar, J Cole, and the work in general of Dreamville.
What inspired you to write your first rhymes?
What inspired me was the rap that I heard as a child — groups like Obsesión, Doble Filo, Anónimo Consejo. The things they said gave me strength, I felt that they empowered me. That’s what led me to write lyrics with the aim of trying to achieve just that with the people who listen to my music.
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What is your dream for your music?
I have so many dreams, but I think that more than being super popular, I am interested in respect, and that people feel identified with what I say. I want my music to invoke positive feelings in the people who listen to it, and of course, my dream is that my music is heard across the entire world.
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