Daniel Muñoz, El Dany. Foto: Tomada de las redes sociales del artista.
Daniel Muñoz, El Dany. Foto: Tomada de las redes sociales del artista.

The going of "El más duro"

9 minutos / Raúl Medina Orama

20.07.2020 / Articles

If the neighborhood never asked permission to crown their idols, the posthumous tribute would be no different. The bodies are glued together in a vigil at the foot of a basketball hoop, in a poor corner of Key West, to the rhythm of reggaeton and creole trap. They cry and sing. They film everything with cell phones.

On Saturday, July 18, in a Havana besieged by the coronavirus and the rain, thousands of people spontaneously came out to pay tribute to the last of their fallen heroes. The last and the best, say those who knew him.

Daniel Muñoz Borrego, the center of pain tonight, had been buried a few hours earlier. He died in the morning, at age 31. In a story on his Instagram, a peaceful farewell was read during the day: "... at one point we will all meet again and walk the same path".

He achieved success very young, but he did not come quickly. Before the bright trail that began to take off with his takeoff at age 26, there were times when Daniel Muñoz —who would later be known as El Dany, The toughest, the Cuban reggaeton Sensei— had to sing for almost nothing in other people's shows .

Su historia se asemeja a la de otros músicos icónicos de Cuba que auguraban mucho más de lo que hicieron, cuyas carreras se ahogaron en trágicos destinos que cimentaron sus leyendas en el parnaso  popular.

The Dany grew up in that lively collision of sounds that is Key West, between the rumba, the timba and the atmosphere of the neighborhood. Writing songs with his left hand and, as he would in life, swinging on the makeshift basketball court. His mother knocked on doors to clear his path, but few were opened: "He made himself alone," she said.

Daniel Muñoz, born on January 6, 1989, started his Medicine career and abandoned it to shine or burn everything on the track. Like him, a Roberto Hidalgo Puentes - three years younger - was bidding on his side to achieve fame in music, something that both would achieve under the name of Yomil and El Dany.

Before they were DpuntoD for three years, they exchanged the same clothes to go on stage and they crossed Havana with pennies in the pocket for the bus. Viewed in retrospect, the duo's narrative is a classic success story, but everyone claims it is rigorously true. Many of the people who accompanied them on their production team grew up in the same neighborhood.

After working together for a time as DpuntoD, they ran out of fuel, there were differences and they decided to separate. It was not his time, and each one got closer to other more consolidated groups: Los 4 (Yomil) and Jacob Forever (El Dany).

El Dany, armed with charisma and a flow of his own and rare among the exponents of the genre, was — both in the voice work and in the stage projection — a necessary balance for his road companion. Together they forged a conquest of the genre based on a studied marketing that took advantage of every alternative way to traditional media to reach audiences, from the Weekly Package, through social networks to the copy of pendrive to pendrive.

El Dany, armado de carisma y un flow propio y raro entre los exponentes del género, era—tanto en el trabajo de voces como en la proyección escénica— un balance necesario para su compañero de carretera. Juntos fraguaron una conquista del género a base de un estudiado marketing que aprovechó toda vía alternativa a los medios tradicionales para llegar a los públicos, desde el Paquete Semanal, pasando por las redes sociales hasta la copia de pendrive a pendrive.

Doping en una semana impactó en la escena local, con el sampleo de temas de Drake, Nicky Minaj o Snoop Dogg, y tracks completamente nuevos en un estilo que mezclaba el dembow puertorriqueño y el trap estadounidense. Quizás hayan sido uno de los mejores ejemplos de lo poco que ha necesitado el reguetón a la publicidad estatal para «pegarse”.

Autonomy, which is not well regarded by the officers, in this case also came with the insolence of direct, street language and an aggressive sound that spread without the help of radio, television or interviews in traditional newspapers.

Incluso cuando los nominaron al Cubadisco 2017 con M.U.G. (Merecemos Un Grammy), se hizo alrededor de los reguetoneros un silencio en la prensa que gritaba los prejuicios que cunden sobre el género. A pesar del menosprecio constante, cuando no la barrera explícita, el dúo se mostraba deseoso de una legitimidad ante las entidades estatales que le sobraba entre los públicos.

Pero le sería esquiva, mientras fuera del país impresionaban a figuras internacionales como Enrique Iglesias y Daddy Yankee. El importante productor de la escena latina Sergio George, se declaró  un “fanático” de Yomil y El Dany. Y aquí mismo los elogiaron importantes artistas de la movida de la salsa y la timba como Issac Delgado, José Luis Cortés, Manolito Simonet, Paulo FG, Samuel Formell, Alexander Abreu, Haila  María Mompié. Elito Revé dijo que eran “espectaculares”, y David Calzado aseguró, admirado, que no sabía cuál era el estilo de Yomil y El Dany: “No lo puedo clasificar… Si es rock, si es pop, es reguetón, música urbana. Es de todo”.

In July 2017 they left for Europe on their first international tour, which included festivals and clubs in Rome, Napoli, Verona, Austria, Barcelona, Madrid. In August 2017, they put a pike in the city that had become the Flanders of the Cuban reggaeton: Miami received them at the Watsco Center, between the scandal over high prices and the fascination with the push of the group

Yomil and El Dany continued their feverish production hand in hand with DJs like Italo, Meko and DJ Wongk Beatz. Seven discs in less than five years kept them surfing in the reggaeton and trap wave with its trapton variant. His songs, in addition to the rhythm with a very accentuated bass, have more melodic work than most of his companions in battles. Progressively they were incorporating more synthesizers and drawing closer to rap.

Along the way came wildness and luxury, and what is worse in the eyes of the powers on the Island: the exhibition of that wealth. Dany, who loved fashion, compulsively bought shoes. He bragged in jewelry and money videos - "Sacrifice plus sacrifice equals profit," they sing. After all, they were boys from Key West with a lot on their hands and nobody gave it to him.

In their songs they show codes that connect with the youth of the Cuban neighborhoods, but they are also transversal to other sectors of society. Whoever likes it, and whoever weighs it, reggaeton is the most influential sound so far in the 21st century and El Dany, together with Yomil, reached a zenith that would have to be seen if Roberto Hidalgo and other exponents can sustain hereafter.

They managed, independently, to position themselves on the Top Latin Album Chart of Billboard. They performed in international showcases such as the Premios Juventud 2018 and created their own label, Trapton Music, to promote new talents. All this with a complicated history of concerts suspended at the last minute in Cuba, video clips nominated for the Lucas Awards but ignored in programming, and a general absence of state media, which in the case of television began to gradually change in 2019. , after years with popular taste in a pocket.

Now there is no longer one side of that dumbbell that pumped oxygen into what is commonly called urban music. The death of El Dany in full creative boil, about to release the album Los Champions — unprecedented in the number of exponents involved (about 30) -, has had a massive impact. Even in his departure, he carried the disdain of a sector of the population that continues to look over his shoulder at popular artists, protected by an elitism that at this point is little less than cultural immaturity.

Discrimination against that music, discrimination with class and even racist roots, is institutionally expressed in censorship and “whitening” of the genre, selecting the few that allow them to access the media, while the casts speak their own language.

The dismay caused by an event such as the death of El Dany —officially “as a consequence of an acute cardiovascular event” - should not be surprising in a wide swath of a town that long ago has not followed another narrative with greater delight than that of the reggaeton makers and its glamor. Tired of waiting for paradise, Cubans cannot be asked not to admire those who claim to have arrived on their own.

La prensa estatal, antes esquiva, con la muerte de El Dany le ha dado la vida en sus espacios que el artista no necesitaba. También recibió el reconocimiento tardío de una institucionalidad que lo despreció y defiende un Decreto-Ley 349 que apunta contra los reguetoneros y otros creadores independientes, tradicionales subversivos de lo que la cultura oficial entiende como “buenas costumbres”.

On Saturday, July 18, nobody authorized the Cayo Hueso neighborhood to pay tribute to the Sensei who escaped. They know where to look for their idols. "We do it this way, without asking permission ..."

Raúl Medina Orama

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