Thursday, March 15, 2007
Young Rebels (Rebeldes Jovenes)
Directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck
Review by Dan Tres Omi
When someone interviews me about hip hop culture, they always seem to ask “what's wrong with hip-hop today?” I point out that nothing is wrong. I have to suggest that if anything else, hip hop culture is much more vibrant than it was twenty years ago. One just has to to do either of two things. One is to turn off the radio and television and check out the local scene in one's region. The second thing one can do is travel abroad. It seems that folks outside of the continental United States have a much greater appreciation for authentic hip hop culture. The Rebels, a documentary on the scene in Cuba is a clear demonstration of this.
I must say that I still find it amazing how hip hop culture has influenced people from all over the world. From Palestine to Cuba to Japan, hip hop culture seems to touch people through various means. The dynamics are different but its hip hop culture. The documentary focuses on several issues. For it's length it covers a variety of topics thoroughly. They also introduce several groups with different goals and agendas. There was even a feminist hip hop trio that helped organize a female hip hop festival.
What was most interesting is how several of the artists felt about the Cuban government. Many of the artists discussed how the Cuban government has been repressive towards the hip hop community. They discussed racism and the economic hardships. Several noted the Cuban government's hypocrisy as the Communist Party created a youth division to help promote the hip hop artists in Cuba. I also found that several artists considered their brand of hip hop music superior to what is produced in the United States. They pointed out that capitalism is destroying hip hop culture coming out of the United States.
Ironically, several of the problems faced by Black and Latino youth in the 70s in the Bronx are faced by the artists in Cuba.
The documentary is superb. The music is exceptional. One can feel the angst and the pride among these young artists. Several of them are african centered while all are politically conscious. At the same time, they all have their views on the Cuban revolution. One will learn much about not only the hip hop scene in Cuba but what is really going on.
(link to a video clip)