Manana // Cuba Festival
by on June 1, 2016 in

Dice la prensa internacional:

It’s only 7 p.m. on a Friday night in Santiago de Cuba, the island’s second largest city, and the crowd is already up and moving like they’re several bottles of rum deep. We’re watching Cuban-born MC/producer Kumar Sublevao-Beat gyrate around the stage during his set at Manana, Cuba’s first-ever festival combining traditional Cuban sounds and international electronic music. Propelled by his band’s live mixture of jazz, funk, and Afro-Cuban elements, Kumar’s movements cause his ass-length dreads to fling to and fro against his bare torso. In between fancy footwork, he bridges past and present while triggering samples on an MPC. “Solo quiero conectarme a la Wi-Fi/Dame la contraseña,” he sings. Translation: “I only want to connect to the Wi-Fi/Give me the password.” In a country where internet access is extremely limited, the young Cubans in the crowd laugh, zealously picking up the phrase to sing along. After Kumar’s performance, I ask a couple of them why they liked it so much. “His music feels truly Cuban,” one explains with a smile…

“Solo quiero conectarme la Wi-Fi.”  That’s the hook from a new song by the Barcelona-based, Afro-Cuban singer and producer Kumar Sublevao-Beat. And throughout the hot, smoggy weekend of Manana Cuba, the country’s first international electronic music festival, it was everywhere.The tune thumped out of a pre-party at the Casa Micaela, a windowless nightclub behind a secret door in a restaurant off the central Parque Cespedes. It rang from the main stage of the Teatro Heredia, a swooping modernist cultural complex where Kumar fleshed it out with local jazz musicians and traditional drummers”… Los Angeles Times

“The show stealer, however, was Barcelona-based Cuban rapper Kumar, who prowled the stage with his waist long dreads waving behind him as he chanted a call-and-response with the crowd to the chorus of his unrecorded hit that could easily become Cuba’s underground anthem: “Solo quiero conectarme la wifi / Dame la contraseña (I just want to connect to wi-fi / Give me the password).”… VIBE Magazine

“Contemporary Cuban music also gets a showing. On the hip-hop front there’s Kumar Sublevao-Beat, a Barcelona transplant whose theatrical show echoes jazz and Afro-Cuban traditions. Reggaeton is conspicuously absent, but there’s evidence of a Cuban club music scene in its infancy”…

In the days leading up to the festival, I attended unofficial MANANA pre-parties featuring local artists like Wichy De Vedado and a dreadlocked Santiago-via-Barcelona MC, Kumar, who freestyled about the difficulties of finding Wi-Fi.