‘Bakosó’ Documentary Traces The Origin Of The Afrobeat Wave Taking Over Cuba

Hands of Cuban street drummer hitting drums.

‘Bakosó’ Documentary Traces The Origin Of The Afrobeat Wave Taking Over Cuba

Birthed in the streets of Santiago, bakosó is a burgeoning movement inspired by the arrival of African medical students who re-shaped the country’s music scene.

PUBLISHED ON : SEPTEMBER 16, 2019 / 01:24 PM

Written by Danielle Ransom

While Afrobeat has been storming shores across the globe, a much quieter cultural evolution has been taking place in the streets of Cuba. In a new documentary called Bakosó: AfroBeats de Cuba, Afro-Cuban pioneer Isnay "DJ Jigüe" Rodriguez travels back to his hometown, Santiago, where he discovers a new musical genre that has changed the whole urban music scene. 

The 50-minute documentary, directed by Puerto Rican filmmaker Eli Jacobs-Fantauzzi, follows DJ Jigüe as he treks from the “most Caribbean city of Cuba” to its various provinces such as Palma Soriano, to reconnect the Afro-Caribbean infusion with its diasporic roots.

As the Havana-based DJ untangles the rise of bakosó, which was birthed in the streets of Cuba’s capital, the film spotlights the younger generation of tastemakers leading the new wave of Cuba’s sound. The cultural movement began in the mid-2000s when a group of African medical students, abroad for their exchange program, brought the high-jacked rhythmic intonations of Afropop and Angolan kuduro to the shores of this Caribbean nation. Much like how hip-hop evolved because of new technological advances that enabled beat-making, it’s this cultural transmittance between the two entities that has slowly revolutionized Cuba’s nascent music scene.

Not to be confused with Afrobeat or Trinidadian-founded soca, the Afro-Caribbean infusion is entrenched in Cuban cultural practices and traditions. Bakosó (which essentially means “turn up”) is its own unique sound separate from other diasporic sounds.

“The majority of the rhythms that come to the Caribbean come from Africa, and when they come to Cuba, they transform and new genres and styles are born. That’s what’s happening in our streets,” Jigüe explains in the visual’s three-minute trailer.

Bakosó will premiere stateside in New York City on Sept. 21 at the 23rd annual Urbanworld Festival. A screening will be held at the AMC Theater in Times Square.

(Stock Photo by Getty Images)


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