Cuban hip hop duo celebrating cultura, resistencia and fighting to change the world
In preparation for their upcoming show at Judy’s Restaurant in DC on July 9th, I had a chance to catch up with Odaymara Cuesta and Olivia Prendes, the dynamic duo making up Krudas Cubensi. Las Krudas are doing more than just making great music; they are actively creating an alternative space within the hip hop and international music scene and building a movement to represent womyn, immigrants and queer people of color worldwide. Odaymara and Olivia are artists in every sense of the word and use mediums ranging from hip hop to spoken word to fight oppression and also celebrate life and culture. Krudas Cubensi’s “artivism” is unapologetically authentic and touches on their experiences as immigrant, queer women of color. Their music transports you to the streets of La Habana while their lyrics and message tell us the realities of people who don’t neatly fit in any particular socially constructed “box.” Read on and don’t miss out on the chance to see Krudas Cubensi this Thursday! Also joining Krudas will be DJ Ang G, a social justice and event organizer, a coordinator, and a creator of socially conscience music events. Ang is a co-founder of Chicago’s People’s DJ Collective and a founding member of Austin’s Queer Qumbia en Tejas and has been performing with Krudas Cubensi for over a year. Don’t miss out on a night of great music and chicxs poderosxs doing their thing!
Poderosxs truly shows your versatility as artists- combining spoken word with rap, singing and traditional afro Cuban sounds. What was your inspiration behind the album Poderosxs?
In general, people like us don’t have much power in this system and society doesn’t treat us well all the time. For us the creative motive behind Poderosxs was our everyday life as immigrant, queer independent artists from Cuba and what it means to be krudas within this society and system. We grow more and more every day and we think it’s important for people to know the reality of our lives.
How did you both get into “artivisim?”
Hip hop and cultura urbana came to Cuba in the 80s. We were doing things in Cuba for a long time, especially spoken word and music. There is a strong movement and rich history of spoken word, poetry and philosophy in Cuba so that influenced us a lot. Cuban hip hop culture was growing a lot in the 90s and as a part of this generation and revolution, Krudas started to make music in 1997-1998. We started to write with the desire to change the world with music, art, rhythm, freedom, protests and feminism. We are now in Austin, TX but go back to Cuba every year to record, have concerts and continue working there to build a movement.
The world of hip hop can be very male dominated and full of stereotypes, what has your experience been like as queer women of color in the hip hop world, in the US and in Cuba? In general, is there a lot of support for artists like you trying to create an alternative space?
I think yes, we have a big family of artists that support us and vice versa, you know, other revolutionaries in this world. Hip hop can be something that can be racist, transphobic, homophobic; but for me there are a lot of people who use hip hop to build a movement and also explore their culture. In Cuba we have a friendship between other artists and in now in Cuban hip hop we are brothers and sisters. It was difficult for us in the beginning, but many artists helped us and supported us along the way.
What are some of your musical influences?
We are very influenced by other Caribbean artists and also Public Enemy! In general our influence is largely salsa, folkloric music. You know what we were born with and what we grew up with.
What is your favorite song to perform and why?
Odaymara: In particular, “Oye Se Busca”, but right now I really like performing “Mi Barba.” It’s a very personal piece and I find that with different people, whatever they think or say, they can relate to it.
Olivia: If I had to pick, I would choose “Rebota.” It’s a very energetic song and gets everyone excited!
What is going on now in Havana in the underground music and art movement? What do you think the future will hold for Cuban artists now that US-Cuban relations are changing?
We have ideas and a vision for what we hope to see for Cuba and the conversations between the US. Hopefully there will be more access to internet because right now it is too expensive for the working class people, which is most of the Cuban population. People are very active in social media and we still need to keep fighting for internet and social media access. The underground movement is very strong and I think this will always be in our roots. The government can still censor us and still doesn’t accept us or our words, so music is being shared underground in houses and parties. There are strong movements of underground reggaeton, hip hop, tumba and many other styles so although the government still doesn’t accept our word, the people are very strong. Things are changing, so we will just have to wait and ride the waves!
When: Thursday, July 9 at 9:00pm
Where: Judy’s Restaurant, 2212 14th St. NW Washington, DC 20009
For more information, see the Maracuyeah event page and invitation- https://www.facebook.com/events/1444178049219375/
✩This fiesta is a queer-fly immigrant-posi poc-centered genderpolice-free mixed-community-amor nena-run friends-welcome mucho-respeto space!✩