EGREM: El Tesoro De La Musica Cubana

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This is possibly the greatest collection of Cuban music available. This 8 CD set tells the story of Egrem, (The Cuban government’s record lable) which was started in 1964 and is still going strong today. Thanks to Ry Cooder the studios and artists had an enormous spotlight shined on them a few years back with the Buena Vista Social Club project. By then, the lable already had thousands of releases and been in operation for over 35 years! This was and still is Cuba’s ONLY record lable since 1964. On one hand, it preserved the culture and harnessed it. The government pays the musicians to play the modest salary that everyone gets regardless if they are a doctor or street cleaner, and pays for all the recordings. Most of the musicians that you meet have no job, but to play music. Which is much better than most musicians have it here in the states! But, it is under their terms. Irakere had a rough time in the 70’s getting support from them because they had so many jazz and funk influences, and recently Cuban hip hop just won a 10 year battle for that same support. Again, as long as you don’t speak out against the government too much or embrace the capitalistic consumerism that is present in most of todays American hip hop.

The forum is coming along… there’s a link to an incredible Cuban Documentary (gracias Busquelo!) and few links to other incredible records. But it still needs to grow. So, in the tradition of the last post, this Egrem comp will be only available to registered users of the forum who have made at least 2 posts. I would act fast. I had to stop sending out the Si Para Usted comp as a request from the lable owner. The first registered users were lucky enough to get it though. The same could happen here. (Imagine…ok Fidel, I’ll take it down) So click on the forum button on the left hand side, register, and you will get the link sent to you…

Si! Para Usted!

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First off, I want to apologize for the lack of posts in the last 2 weeks. (I’ve been djing 5-6 nights a week these days) That’s why I’m going to make it up to you all… in a big way. I’ve just created a forum with the same theme of this blog. A forum to…post requests and links, get your questions answered, learn, inform, and discuss music and politics and everything in between. It’s time to get all of you involved… A true movement of the people! In an attempt to get all of you involved and get the discussions going, I will honor 1 request from the first 100 people who register. I do have 10,000 records and about 500 gigs of music to pick from, so if you request a few records, chances are that I will have at least one of them. The beautiful thing about all of this, is as more people get on the forum, the higher your chances are of someone having that record that you’ve been looking for for 10 years. Here’s the catch…you just have to become a registered user in the forum and make 2 posts (takes 2 minutes).

In addition to that, I will also send you the link to the comp ‘Si, Para Usted: the Funky Beats of Revolutionary Cuba’. Recorded in the 70’s these artists (Juan Pablo Torres, Irakere, Los Van Van, etc…) all were influenced highly by funk and soul and what was going on in NY at the time with Fania. Not to mention, most of the tracks on this are really difficult to find (good luck finding anything on Egrem in the states). Just click on the little forum button on the left side of this page , register, and I’ll send it to you…

26 de Julio!

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Today marks the end of Carnival in Santiago de Cuba. It is hands down the most celebrated event in Cuba, and definately the best party. (We have inside sources here at ¿Revolucion, No? that have seen first hand in 2003, during the 50th anniversary). This date marks the beginning of the movement simply called El Movimiento de la 26 de Julio. This movement, led by Fidel Castro, brother Raul, and Che Guevara, originated from the failed attack on the Moncada Barracks, an army facility in the city of Santiago de Cuba in 1953. Fidel was then sentenced to 15 years in prison, but after serving less than 2 years he was released by Batista, who recieved a tremendous amount of pressure from the public to release him. Fidel reformed the movement in Mexico, which is where he met Che Guevara. Under this movement they overthrew the fascist Batista regime in 1959 and the Cuban Revolucion was born.

What happened after that is complicated, and the views vary drastically. Either way you look at it, the goal that the 26th of July movement had was admirable. It was to overthrow a conservative regime that only benefitted the rich and foreign investment (many straight out gangsters). The majority of the actual people in Cuba at the time suffered greatly from poverty. Who can disagree with taking over a regime like this? It’s a Movement of the People! The wealthy cuban-americans certainly can. Just go to Miami and start talking politics. But the fact of the matter is, the education system is better, the health care is renowned throughout the world (think about it there are no corrupt insurance-drug company scams), and noone is homeless. Unfortunately the embargo has caused a huge amount of suffering and the country is extremely poor because of it. At this point, I’m not sure what is worse. To be stubborn and fight the imperialism, or to open it up and have it look like Miami and Puerto Rico. At least the people would have more opportunities, right? I’m only saying that in theory the Cuban Revolution was an incredible thing. The embargo definately threw a wrench in the system, and corruption is always present. It’s difficult to be objective for many here in the states…we’ve got over 50 years of propaganda engrained in us, and not to mention all the angry ex-Cubans who had all their land and multiple homes taken away. (I for one, don’t think that one person should own 5 homes when there are millions of people homeless…but try saying that to people in Florida). I’m not saying that socialism is the way to go…I do feel it takes away peoples drive and therefore productivity. But I do believe a mix is good. Europe is a perfect example. National health care, education, getting rid of tax breaks on the rich… does that sound like a bad thing? Anyways, I’m ranting…I highly suggest going to Cuba right now, before it does open up. (I mean, uh….from what people tell me….)

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If you do go, (it’s simple, I hear you just go to another country close by and buy a ticket from Cubana in cash, and when you get there ask them not to stamp your passport. When you do go, bring lots of cash. Don’t use your credit card…otherwise they have proof that you’ve been there…so I hear) you will hear an incredible amount of music. The whole buena vista social club son thing is everywhere. Sundays, there are rhumba’s everywhere. Santeria rituals everywhere (especially in Santiago), and live salsa bands performing outdoors, and in clubs all the time. Los Van Van, Grupo NG, etc… There is also a big underground hip hop movement there. Granted some of them unfortunately listen to lil jon, and 50 cent, but most are into the conscious thing (i.e. Common, Talib Kweli, Dead Prez, etc…) Most of you know the Orishas, who just put out a new record Antidiotico which is kind of a greatest hits record with a couple of new singles/re-works. They’ve since moved to France though, so you won’t see them there. You should, however look for Anonimo Consejo, Aldeanos, Danay, Explosion Suprema amongst many many more. I’ve put together a collection of unreleased material that I got directly from them while…um…someone from the ¿Revolucion, No? office while he was there 2 years ago. He was there for a few weeks working with Danay y Aldo, after an introduction from Pablo Herrera. It is given to me in good faith, so I’ve just included one song from each artist as an introduction to them. So if you like what you here go out and support them. I’m actually working on original material with them right now, so look out in the future….

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For now, here’s what you get…

El Nuevo blog de la Musica Revolucionario!

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That’s right…bookmark it now! Subscribe to the rss feeds, add it to your links, or just keep coming back…because in the next year I will be putting up singles, full length albums, etc…of all revolucionary music, both old and new from all over the world. I will also be posting some serious latin records, since I have yet to find any serious latin music blogs. All free downloads on a commercial free blog…¡Como Siempre Anti-Capitalistas! So without any further ado… What else could possibly be my first post other than a song dedicated to the classic revolucionary, 300chesoundtrack.jpg
and an entire soundtrack of a film about him scored by Lalo Schifrin?