Krudas Cubensi is the emblematic all-women’s rap group in Cuba. In August 2011, some of the group members were in Havana at the Symposium of Cuban Hip Hop, leading a free-style improvisation workshop. “Negra cubana tenía que ser” interviewed them and has just published a transcript of their responses. Here are excerpts:
According to Las Krudas, what distinguishes Cuban rap performed by women?
Olivia: We are “reparteras,” sincere, austere; the entire Cubaneo possesses us, the boldness, the defense of our freedom of action and expression without unnecessary manner; we have brashness and flavor, the gestures, the percussion of the words of the ghetto that each one of us represents. In Cuba, the men are strong and we have to rise to the occasion; we have the unctuous charm of Oshun and the power of love and wrath of Yemayá, but also the determination of Grajales to say “Get up and walk.” We also have, long since, examples of divorced and single women that do not fear the streets or their independence; we are rebels even within our own homes; imagine in our art, “protesta pa’ bajo.”[. . .]
Pasa Kruda: There is [also] an Afro-Cubanness that I have not seen elsewhere in the world. It is moving forward, becoming more and more consolidated; we are still lacking the means to make it universal … but so is rap in general. We, here, in particular, represent our woman-centered Cuban rap wherever we go; what a distinction!
In Cuba, would we be talking about a rap made by women or a feminist rap?
Olivia: Among Cuban rappers there is a feminist thinking but they are afraid of the word; they often say “this is not feminism,” but they feels that it is; it’s just that there is no pride or knowledge of the movement and feminist activism; let’s call it “lack of information.” We Krudas are feminists and we try to explain that in cultures of resistance, people who suffer oppression are affected by supremacy (in this case, male); we have a right to be extremists in search of some kind of balance in this world.
Pasa Kruda: There are many styles [of rap]: social, revolutionary, gansta, loving; all I see claims and demands better treatment for them, daughters, sons, all of us women. Since we started Krudas 10 years ago, we had a Hip Hop life with dedication, perseverance, growth, putting the body, soul and heart into it… now, what magnificence, beauty, power and assertiveness … a better world is already coming; here are the fruits of our sowing. In Cuba, Cuban seeds are the best!
With your departure from the national music scene, what are the challenges that are now imposed on Cuban women rappers?
Pasa Kruda: Who says we left the national scene? Girl, if you had gone to Karachi, you would have seen have seen how present we in the musical underground scene. Foreign and domestic audiences, it was a lot, repeated our songs; I was in trance. The challenges are the same as in 98; to continue forward, to be fierce, to produce our own material, to impose oneself. The only thing is that now Las Krudas have made a difference, a path has been made in Cuban and international Hip Hop.
Olivia: With or without Krudas Krudas, women (even more, if they are rappers or artists) not only in Cuba, but throughout the world, are continuing the fight tirelessly. There is much left to do and it is not possible to be deterred by the conditions, in many instances they have been worse and Cubans have always been resisting. [. . .]
To conclude, could Krudas Cubensi be conceived as a lesbo-feminist group?
Olivia: Definitely, lesbians and new Caribbean feminists (new feminists of the Caribbean) but we are also more independent, international, and progressive: we are “conscious art.”
Pasa Kruda: Also urban afro-radicals, Hip-Hop, human beings, women of word and action, daughters.
For original interview (in Spanish), see http://negracubanateniaqueser.wordpress.com/2012/01/17/krudas-cubensi-mas-alla-de-la-geografia/