Cuba: A Blank Canvas for Artists

Cuba, for many years, was under an embargo with the United States — essentially, they were restricted commercially, economically, and financially. This was to stay in effect until the Cuban government could come to terms with democratization, and creating a world with more respect to human rights. What this meant for music, as I have mentioned in a previous blog post, is quite unique.

In terms of music and culture – this embargo basically restricted Cuba from advancing into the future. Since it was enacted around 1960, for example, most cars you see in Cuba (if not all) are from that time. So, you could guess that the music culture has not changed much at all as well.

In 2015, when sanctions were eased, for the first time ever in Cuban history, there were going to have a world-famous musician of any sort perform for all of Cuba to see (and hear). This man was Diplo, of course. More specifically, it was his DJ group Major Lazer.

Major Lazer was Diplo’s brain child, and the mission of the group was to take the music that they all loved creating, from their own unique backgrounds and transform it into one sound. From the beginning, Major Lazer’s shared goal is to create a “global sound.” Electronic music makes this all capable because you are able to use sounds from all over the world, for example African drums can incorporate perfectly into afrobeat (all manipulated from a guy on a laptop). This is true folk music at its finest.

The reason why I have been so intrigued with Diplo is the idea of the “global sound.” I have always been the believer that all people like music, and if you don’t than inherently your inhuman. But with this idea of a “global sound,” it brings with it a notion of bringing the world together through music, which I believe he is actually achieving whether he even knows it or not.

What Major Lazer was able to achieve in Cuba, specifically, was mind-blowing. Cuba, a place who’s culture had been stagnant for years, unmotivated, unchanging, literally frozen in time. With the arrival of Diplo and Major Lazer, they were woken up. Electronic music gives people a future.

Going back to Cuba as a whole, what Diplo has done with the Major Lazer tour in Cuba is he has opened the door. He has began his own path to changing the world with his music, and is begging for others like him to follow suit and add to the culture. Put it this way, if, when Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492, if there wasn’t at least one person following him, than the world as we know it would be an extremely different place. Make your mark.


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