The Raw Ones

Image of Krudas Cubensi courtesy of Hip-Hop Congress.

Image of Krudas Cubensi courtesy of Hip-Hop Congress.

Out of a woman-formed and led artists’ movement in Cuba comes Las Krudas–a rap trio, formed of 3 Cuban women.

Krudas is a derivation of the Spanish word “cruda” meaning crude, raw, unrefined, real; Cubensis is a Latin word for those of native Cuban descent. Cruda is precisely what these women are: they are raw, unrefined, and real. They celebrate and defend diversity, while actively engaging in being not the norm. Las Krudas practices what they preach.

Las Krudas is an interesting concept for several reasons. First, they are AfroCuban. Racism is an enormous issue in Cuba, with AfroCubans living in the poorest areas, unable to attain governmental positions, managerial role, or even occupations in the tourism industry. Even the New York Times is reporting on the matter. In an article published on March 24, 2013, Roberto Zurbano writes, “Now, in the 21st century, it has become all too apparent that the Black population is underrepresented at universities and in spheres of economic and political power, and overrepresented in the underground economy, in the criminal sphere and in marginal neighborhoods.”

Second, they are women. Without going too heavily into sexism, women have an odd place in the arts. Some women artists have settled in the traditional pop-star or beauty-star role (see Britney Spears or the 18 Miss Universe winners since 1990 who did not represent USA, Canada, Australia, Norway, or Russia). Some women artists have found a niche in American hip-hop, and have been megastars influencing millions of young girls (see Mary J. Blige, Missy Elliot, etc.). But Las Krudas does not fit into the typical categories. The women of Las Krudas have carved a space in their art that gives them unadulterated freedom in which to speak. Their music is highly empowered, and directly confronts social norms generally ignored by women artists.

Their music videos are inspiring – women unabashedly showing their stomachs, telling other women to free themselves of the standard. These women are courageous and act as a role model for other women to accept who they are.

Third, they are lesbians. They are out, they are proud, and they are not ashamed of being themselves.

Finally, they are Cuban. Socialist regimes historically have not allowed much empowerment of citizens, nor of freedom of expression. Las Krudas have taken the liberty associated with the present moment to clearly convey their thoughts of the state, and of The State.

Las Krudas bring Cuban women into the forefront of conversations that have been systemically stifled. To those in power in Cuba, race and class issues have no place, as they do not exist. Women’s issues have always been non-issues, and the women of Las Krudas are a driving force behind making issues of class, race, and gender a topic of discussion, not only in the art arena, but also in the more general sphere.

In an interview with a Cuban anthropologist, one of the members of Las Krudas, Odaymara, explains typical reggaeton beats serve as an “escape valve for the reality, that this is a hypocritical society that continues to sell women.” Las Krudas has intentionally removed themselves from the vulgarity and sexually explicit lyricism associated with reggaeton, and created something that all women can get behind: music that does not attempt to tell women that they are only worth what their bodies can bring.

The lyrics are powerful, and provide a foundation for anyone, of any gender, race, nationality, or class, to stand and fight for equality.

Lyrical excerpts:

I REBEL

We shall remain here Krudas with our mission, the work

Representing all women with boundless will.

The ones that prefer papaya, that like the cobra

All denouncing together of this anxious life.

I rebel, I rebel, I rebel against that I rebel.

Against the power of the system I rebel, against supremacy I rebel.

Against a lack of love I rebel, against all injustice, I rebel.

 

THA PHAT GIRL

My beautiful body. Gigantic, excess, volume, to those who consume colonized bodies I have them stresses, see? You are gonna carry me? Oh please. You’ll get a hernia. I don’t hide if I’m going to eat. I have a womyn’s love.

Fattiness in war times, symphony attached the real ones, impossible vital, poetry to hide, fat floating as my Cuba in the middle of the sea. Heavy, as a brick son, so you go crazy, this is 90 kilos, come, come and say it.

Link to their SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/krudas-cubensi

 

By Catherine McGahan

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5 Comments

  1. Tanya

     /  September 29, 2014

    AfroCuban women! Wow, this was a great post. It is refreshing to see these game changers come into play, especially in a culture obsessed with Nicki Minaj as the frontrunner for female rappers. This will be in my playlist for the next time I need a pick-me up! Thanks for sharing.

    Tanya N.

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    Reply
  2. Mandi Raz

     /  October 6, 2014

    This is great! Thank you for sharing. This is great information, and I particularly enjoyed the video and the lyric translations. Such powerful lyrics and powerful women. You are right, there are so many reasons why this group is particularly noteworthy, and their music gives an important voice to a group that is generally silenced. They are so fearless! It is so good to see women working for change, creating art that matters, and encouraging other women as well. Thanks for posting.

    -Mandi R.

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  3. Jessica N.

     /  October 7, 2014

    I love this introduction to such refreshingly inspirational music! Before clicking on the link to the music videos, I went to Spotify to listen to some Las Krudas tunes. Even though they are not sung in my native language, the energy bursting through the music is infectious. It was even more powerful to watch the video, witness the energy of the artist, and read the meaning behind the lyrics. The music of Las Krudas offers a significant opportunity to reevaluate the stature of popular music. Why aren’t these beautiful, passionate ladies in the spotlight? Thank you for sharing their story and their music!

    Like

    Reply
  4. Lindsay S.

     /  October 8, 2014

    It will be interesting to see how they are received in pop culture. The average rap fan may disregard them initially because they are women, but hopefully their confidence and lyrics and talent will push listeners to get over the female voice. I also wonder if the stereotype of gay women having masculine traits will come into play. Kudos to Las Krudas. I hope they have success in interrupting the status quo of the genre.

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  5. Cameron Bradley

     /  November 11, 2014

    It’s so great to read about female artists who are going against the mold. It’s true, they are counterculture, and go against the widely accepted pop icons like Nicki Minaj, but its so refreshing to hear musicians that are using their art to affect change in a positive way. Putting out strong messages about women and empowerment, this is what music should be about. They are so energetic, I hope that more people discover Las Krudas’ message as well.

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