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Cuba: Reggaeton Hit ‘Chupi Chupi’ Denounced by Authorities

Over the past two weeks, reggaeton artist Osmani “La Voz” García’s wildly popular hit ‘Chupi Chupi’ has begun stirring more than just the hips of eager partygoers on Havana’s Malecón.

Cuban Minister of Culture Abel Prieto, and Cuban Institute of Music President Orlando Vistel, have publicly denounced the song and the accompanying video [es].

http://youtu.be/uZn1z61KdWo

Café Fuerte [es] reported that on Mesa Redonda, one of the nation’s most watched politics programs, Prieto insinuated that it had “put the soul of the nation in the balance.”

Days after the program aired, Chupi Chupi was removed from a pool of contenders for the Lucas Awards, which recognize popular music and include a “people’s choice” category which fans believed ‘Chupi Chupi’ would easily have won, had it not been removed from the competition. García has since submitted an open letter of protest to the government, which Café Fuerte has reproduced here.

The offending song, which features a lineup of A-list Cuban reggaeton and hip-hop stars, is a playful and unapologetically vulgar “ode” to oral sex.

In the state-sponsored daily newspaper Granma, musicologist María Córdova remarked [es] on how the song denigrated the “artistic essence”of sex:

[C]uando los artistas han convertido al sexo en interés y tema del arte…ha sido —por lo general— para dignificar esa adorable dimensión y necesidad no sólo biológica sino afectiva y emocional de todos los seres humanos. En tal sentido, no considero que tales “obras” dignifican este sentimiento humano sino más bien lo reducen a sus más elementales procederes, eliminando su artisticidad…

[…]

Después de escuchar los textos de muchas de tales “obras” me pregunto: ¿Por qué se proponen sus autores exponer una aproximación al sexo tan despojada de toda esencia artística? ¿Por qué desean tratar la sexualidad a partir de expresiones tan vulgares?

[W]hen artists have transformed sex into a subject of art….it has been—in general—to dignify this admirable dimension and necessity that is not only biological, but also affective and emotional for all human beings. In this sense, I don’t believe that these ‘songs’ dignify this human sentiment…

[…]

After listening to the words of many of these “songs” I ask myself: Why do their authors want to treat sex in a way that is so devoid of artistic essence? Why do they want to portray sexuality using such vulgar expressions?

Los Aldeanos, a Cuban rap group, perform in  Seville. Photo by Orianomada, CC:BY-NC-SA

Los Aldeanos, a Cuban rap group, perform in Seville. Photo by Orianomada, CC:BY-NC-SA

Regarding the debate between Ministry of Culture officials and García, Elaine Díaz tweeted to Yudivian:

@yudivian: Creo que la polémica trasciende al regueton como género y se concentra en el contenido y la forma de la música cubana actual

@yudivian: I think the controversy transcends reggaeton as a genre and focuses on content and form in current Cuban music

@yudivian: y no creo que sea contra todo regueton, sino contra una regueton que denigra a la mujer, es vulgar, grosero

@yudivian: and I don’t think it’s against all reggaeton, but rather reggaeton that denigrates women and is vulgar and gross

Yudivian later tweeted:

@yudivian@greenpea13 hay que ir al trasfondo de porque esas letras funcionan en la población porque se identifican con ellas

@yudivian@greenpea13 one must look deeper into the issue because these lyrics work for the public because people identify with them

Ernesto Morales of El pequeño hermano [es], noted that reggaeton artists have long history of using sexually explicit language, pointing to immensely popular “regguetoneros” like Baby Lores and Eminencia Clásica, whose songs have featured lyrics that are as vulgar (if not more so) as those of Osmani García:

¿Van a prohibir entonces, bajo decreto oficial, cuanta pieza reguetonera circule por la Isla, sea de factura nacional o extranjera?

How many reggaeton songs circulating around the island are they going to ban, under official decree, whether they were produced by domestic or foreign companies?

Many remain puzzled as to why this song in particular, when its subject matter is hardly unusual within the genre, was denounced so forcefully by cultural policy leaders.

Sin EVAsión’s Miriam Celaya [es] wrote that while she personally dislikes the reggaeton genre, attempting to curb public consumption of the song would only serve to further pique the interests of the public:

[Es] sabido que las censuras y prohibiciones no hacen más que estimular el consumo de lo prohibido. Por estos días la gente no ha cesado de comentar “el caso del Chupi”, y quienes no tenían todavía el video clip, corrieron a buscarlo. Efecto inverso de reacción que hace subversivo –y por tanto, atractivo–, todo lo que disgusta a las autoridades.

[It’s] known that censorship and banning only stimulates consumption of what is prohibited. Over the past few days people haven’t stopped talking about the “Chupi case,” and those who hadn’t yet seen the video have gone running to find it. What makes it subversive has had an inverse effect on—and made attractive—everything that disgusts the authorities.

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