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Labana White!


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LABANA – “white!” Viva la Revolución – Viva la Música! Although there might be good grounds for thinking that the band founder and name-giver of LABANA, Dany “Labana” Martínez, and lead singer [...]

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Labana White!


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LABANA – “white!” Viva la Revolución – Viva la Música! Although there might be good grounds for thinking that the band founder and name-giver of LABANA, Dany “Labana” Martínez, and lead singer Jake Voth joined ranks for political or ideological reasons, that was not the case: it was music that brought the Cuban and the Russian together. And yet listening to “white!” one cannot help thinking that music like that would not have come from Cuba back in Fidel’s day. Although the Cuban change of government has not brought real political neoliberalism, the musical sea change has finally happened with LABANA. The glorified romanticism of the Buena Vista Social Club has given way to hard but highly musical rap core: the message from bands such as P.O.D., Rage Against the Machine, or Molotov has quite obviously reached Cuba. The maiden album “white!” calls for a changing of the guard – both of generation and of style. On 11th September this astounding album will be in the stores. The number “Labana e’ Labana” could easily be the anthem for a popular uprising on the streets of Havana, but instead of a timba and salsa sound it has a solid rock basis, with Dany Martínez himself playing the guitar. Almost all the tracks on “white!” with their mix of hard guitar riffs and powerful rap could almost be classed under the title of “Nu Metal”. But equally, some tracks could have come from the soundtracks of Hollywood action blockbusters – quite un-socialist. Modern, forceful tracks such as “My Lady”, “white!”, “The Same!”, “Hip Hop Star” or “Warriors” portray the Chicanos of Los Angeles, or Miami with its strong Cuban culture, as we have seen in movies like “Training Day” or “Bad Boys”. That is doubtless due to the US rapper “Soul Elements”, who clearly has no problem fraternising with members of former “enemy states”. Music is a global language!

Even though almost all the musicians now live in Europe and no longer orientate themselves towards the musical tradition of their former homeland, they never quite forget their Cuban roots. Hot rhythms can be found on the album, with typical percussion instruments such as congas, timbales and batá drums, and razor-sharp wind passages. Coupled with rich hip-hop beats and the Vocoder vocal sounds which are all the rage on the US rap scene, powerful, earthy electric guitar and strategically placed turntable scratches, LABANA does not sound as you would expect from Cuban artists – it is quite a surprise. But if you still feel like brandishing your revolutionary fist skywards, you are welcome to do so with “Vote 4 Me!” This controversial and politically highly ambitious number is a firework that begins with the world-famous 20th Century Fox theme tune and ends in acoustic gunfire. As an election slogan it packs an even heftier punch than Barack Obama’s “Yes we can!”

When Raúl Castro became the new Number One in Cuba, he talked about “necessary changes”. He was doubtless thinking more about the capital La Habana than the musician “Labana”. LABANA as Guitar Heroes? – yes! LABANA as heroes of the revolution? – no! Except for the musical one…


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