Yotuel Romero says Patria y Vida’s win surprised him: NPR

Randy Malcom, from left, Gente De Zona’s Alexander Delgado and Yotuel sing Patria y Vida at the Latin Grammy Awards on November 18, 2021, in Las Vegas.

Chris Pizzello / Chris Pizzello / Invision / AP

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Chris Pizzello / Chris Pizzello / Invision / AP

Randy Malcom, from left, Gente De Zona’s Alexander Delgado and Yotuel sing Patria y Vida at the Latin Grammy Awards on November 18, 2021, in Las Vegas.

Chris Pizzello / Chris Pizzello / Invision / AP

When Cuban-born rapper Yotuel took to the stage at this year’s Latin Grammy Awards, he couldn’t believe he’d received one of the night’s most coveted awards: Song of the Year.

“I’m really surprised because…we’re competing with much more popular songs Patria y Vida and artists who are at their peak”, the male singer whose full name is Yotuel Romero said recently in an interview.

The song also won the Latin Grammy Award for Best Urban Song, beating Bad Bunny’s hit single Dakiti and J Balvin and Tainy’s Agua.

Patria y Vida, or homeland and life, is a satire on Fidel Castro’s slogan “Patria o Muerte,” which means “homeland or death.”

On a stage filled with candles – almost a vigil, Yotuel sang a live acoustic version of the song with Afro-Cuban singers such as Descemer Bueno, Eliecer Márquez Duany and the duo Gente de Zona.

Exclusively for political prisoners

During the ceremony, Márquez Duany, who accompanied El Funky, performed Patria y Vida to all political prisoners in Cuba, especially Maykel Osorbo, one of the song’s co-writers, who has languished in a maximum security prison since May for helping to create the song. protest.

Over the summer, the song – banned by the Cuban regime after its release in February – became a rallying song during the largest anti-government protests in decades.

Hundreds of Cubans detained in connection with the protests are still being held as political prisoners, including dozens of artists.

Cuban regime condemned for “harassment of artists”

On December 8, hundreds of famous figures from the world of art, literature and entertainment called on the Cuban government to “stop the relentless abuses against artists.” in a statement mentioning the role Patria y Vida play in demonstrations.

“There is no justification for persecuting artists for peacefully expressing their views,” the statement reads, signed by Meryl Streep, Khaled Hosseini, Orhan Pamuk, Elena Poniatowska, Isabel Allende and Zadie Smith.

“We call on the Cuban government to respect the fundamental role of art and artists in society and to immediately stop harassing artists who engage in political and social criticisms that are incompatible with the system.” rigid ideology of the government.”

Yotuel recently announced that he is producing a documentary, in partnership with Exile Content Studio and his wife, Spanish musician Beatriz Luengo, about the regime’s response to the song, especially since the protests in the summer.

Yotuel was one of the pioneers of urbano – a movement of urban genres, like reggaeton, born in Latin America. Yotuel was a trendsetter in the early 2000s combining Afro-Cuban genres like rumba with hip hop as he did on his debut album. I’m sorry Cubano with the Orishas group.

“We must replace this slogan”

After seeing the government crack down on an anti-art movement last year, Yotuel and other Cuban recording artists teamed up with rappers on the island to produce Patria y Vida. Cuban rappers – Osorbo and El Funky – recorded their parts secretly for fear of the government shutting down production. They filmed a music video in an abandoned building while friends watched.

Influenced by the hip hop tradition of “keeping it real”, Patria y Vida It is a hopeful but sad song that envisions Cuba’s liberation in the near future. And its protest message was sent to the Cuban communist regime.

“This song says: Your time is up. … I was born into this century, and we are done with your lies and persuasion,” Yotuel said on Zoom from his home in Miami.

Luengo, who was also on the call, said the first time she visited Cuba, she was startled when she saw the slogan Patria o Muerte calling on the Cuban people to dedicate their lives to the revolution.

“We have to replace this slogan,” she told her husband.

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