Cuba’s reggaeton craze

‘Cuba is its music and music is Cuba.’

Eduardo Nodarse and Brayan Martinez Calvo, known respectively as Danyer y El Kometa (D&K), have been making music together for eight years. But reaching stardom is never easy for young struggling artists, especially if they live in Cuba.

The duo are part of the island’s explosive generation grinding to a new anthem: reggaeton, where Brayan and Eduardo strive to shine.

But the two young men face a great challenge: Cuba’s lack of internet access. High-speed internet has allowed hundreds of international artists such as Justin Bieber and Ed Sheeran to achieve international recognition through YouTube or MySpace.

But in communist-run Cuba, access to the internet is limited and expensive, so up-and-coming artists had to adapt and share their music another way.

Enter el paquete semanal, or the “weekly package.”

The paquete is a one terabyte (TB) drive distributed weekly across the island by smugglers known as paqueteros. Users can have access to anything they desire – from music, TV shows and movies to arbitrary topics such as magic, astrology and recipes – or any other information usually found easily through a simple Google search.

Crucially, it is also the most efficient way for young musicians on the island to promote their music.

Through the paquete, D&K were spotted by Luis Niebla Denis, known as DJ Unic, one of Cuba’s prominent DJs and producers. Recording with this big producer was a dream come true for the two young musicians, a push in their career, but also a luxury they could afford only once.

Eduardo and Brayan need to gather six professionally produced tracks and present them to state-run associations to be allowed to perform publicly for free. Without a high-end production, they are stuck in their makeshift studio located in Eduardo’s bedroom.

In Cuba, the road to stardom has many obstacles, but for D&K, failing is not an option.

Filmmakers: Elena Boffetta and Yasmine Canga-Valles

Editor: HyoJin Park

Executive Producer: Andrew Phillips

Source: Al Jazeera