Cuba's Danay Suarez Coming to Miami's Blackbird Ordinary for First U.S. Show
Cuba. It's the largest island in the Caribbean, a true paradise for over three million people from around the world who visit each year.
Yet tragically, few Americans have ever set foot on the island nation despite its proximity to the United States. And even fewer are learning about the island's rich musical culture and the unlikely sounds lingering in Havana and beyond.
"The Cuban hip-hop culture is considered one of the best in Latin America for its socially conscious lyrical content, extraordinarily interesting sound, and use of sampling," says Cuban singer and rapper Danay Suarez, who'll perform at Blackbird Ordinary on Sunday, May 26. "The music not only touches on the realities of the socio-political climate in Cuba, but the human condition as well."
In South Florida especially, first-generation Cuban-Americans are often criticized for their desire to explore ancestral roots on an island just 90 miles south of Key West. But at 27 years old, Suarez has become that demographic's link to a place that many have longed to know, but still struggle to understand.
"The world isn't black and white. Sometimes we don't know what we're capable of doing until we're faced with certain challenges," Suarez muses.
Rapping, for example, was a talent that Suarez didn't know she had until she began writing rhymes at age 15. Influenced heavily by jazz, her flow took on an improvisational sound she calls "organic" that is also peppered with bits of folk.
"I love to discover music, particularly traditional world music," she says. "But my influences are wide-ranging. I don't simply listen to jazz or hip-hop, I'm on the constant search for traditional folklore, and generally interesting music."
Similarly, Miami's DJ EFN and business partner Michael Garcia are also on a constant search for new music. And in 2012, the duo's journey lead them and five of their friends to the Havana neighborhood of Santa Fe, Saurez's home.
"I actually kept the trip from my family," says DJ EFN. "I only told my mother, who was worried, but ultimately supported me."