Gente de Zona, Yotuel, Descemer Bueno and El Funky at the Latin Grammy ceremony performing Patria y Vida. Photo: Kevin Winter / Getty Images for The Latin Recording Academy.
Gente de Zona, Yotuel, Descemer Bueno and El Funky at the Latin Grammy ceremony performing Patria y Vida. Photo: Kevin Winter / Getty Images for The Latin Recording Academy.

Homeland, life and the Latin Grammy - Magazine AM: PM

5 minutes / Rafa G. Escalona

19.11.2021 / Articles

I've said it on several occasions, I don't like Patria y Vida. It seems to me a dull, opportunistic song, which reaches its best moments precisely where the names that support it are thrown aside, when Maykel Osorbo and El Funky demonstrate that they have a talent that has been wasted for years, like that of so many rappers who live in that sad limbo that is the national hip hop scene..

But I understand that songs have a life of their own beyond themselves, and that within the chronology of the protests and claims that shake Cuba —a transnational Cuba, which extends to other geographies and virtual spaces— for about a year Patria y Vida came at the perfect time to capture and condense the feeling of a revolutionary situation, and became the anthem people needed.

I even remember very vividly the moment when I understood the political dimension of that song.It was in April, when in a Facebook Live stream made by Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara from his home in San Isidro, you could see how police officers tried to take Maykel away and the people of the neighborhood took him out of their hands and returned him to his street. There in the midst of that tension, they chanted Patria y Vidawith a fervor that made me understand that this was definitely something else.

I mean, I understand the symbolic value of Patria y Vida, its capacity to condense the frustrations and longings of an important part of the Cuban people. Now, what really puzzles me is what this song could mean for the Latin Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

When I saw that she was nominated for a Latin Grammy I thought it was a curious detail, but I didn't give it too much importance; I honestly thought that was all the way it was going to go, a funny concession for the Cuban community in Miami and that's it. But what happened this Thursday night will remain a mystery to me forever and ever.

I understand what Yotuel and Beatriz Luengo earn with this, I understand what Maykel and El Funky earn, I understand what Gente de Zona and Descemer Bueno earn, but what does the Academy earn with this award? The prestige of being an institution connected to the social problems of the region? And I throw this adventurous hypothesis because neither aesthetically nor commercially this award is justified.

Patria y Vida acumula 9,2 millones de visualizaciones en YouTube, una cantidad nada modesta para un video de artistas cubanos, pero son números irrisorios en materia de industria, más cuando piensas que cuentan con unos pesos pesados como Gente de Zona. Otro dato, para poner la canción en el contexto del mercado latino: en la última semana, de las 100 canciones más escuchadas en Spotify desde Miami, ninguna pertence a un artista cubane.

So, it is not commercial success that is being rewarded.

Even in a year not characterized by particularly notable nominated songs, almost any serious person would say that tracks like Todo de ti (Raw Alejandro, composed by him with four co-writers) and Que se se sepa nuestro amor (by El David Aguilar and Mon Laferte; interpreted by her with Alejandro Fernández) —to mention just a couple— are superior compositions to Patria y Vida.

It is then that I think about the hypothesis of social commitment, and right there I can't avoid my alarm bells ringing, because the Academy has never been particularly recognized for its political awareness. When have the Grammys ever been interested in the social situation in Latin American countries? Which songs have been recognized for their social impact? (Don't tell me Calle 13, which was a very unique phenomenon backed by Sony and an impeccable musical production). Without going any further, where was the Academy when Afilando los cuchillos came out a couple of years ago? What's going on here? And no, I resist falling into the simplistic trap of the myth of the controlling Cuban-American mafia in Miami. The only explanation —irrational, I know— I can come up with is that it's an award for the Cubans, who are the only ones paying attention to the Latin Grammys.

Anyway, I am happy for the millions of Cubans who feel empowered by this award, and who see it as a victory for their aspirations for a better society; I am happy for the visibility it may give to the situation of Maykel Osorbo, Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara and all the people detained in Cuba today for thinking differently, but from then on, I run out of arguments and methodology.

Rafa G. Escalona

Certified Journalist. Father of a music magazine.

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    Marlon Elier Daniel Martinez


    Rafa my friend as with the Nobels, as with the Oscars, it is very difficult to separate the political influence of a certain phenomenon in a world where perhaps the worst pandemic is precisely politics and all that this word entails. It is a triumph not for the academy, it is a triumph for a cause and a step towards an end. Of diverse tastes, preferences are composed those that we know for life. A greeting, a hug and success in this beautiful project.



    No se porqué últimamente se habla tanto en jerigonza,como mismo el escribe como le da «le gane,le academie premie a quien le de la guene».Que manera más estúpida de escribir solo para quedar bien con un sector de la población que más que exigir derechos debería ir pensando en sus deberes y obligaciones sociales.

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