19 Timba & Salsa Cubana Bangers That Will School You in Cuba’s Classic Rhythms

Photo Credit: Danielle Moir

With the renewal of diplomatic relations between the US and Cuba, the island country is going through a major historical transition. the prospect of increased tourism and cultural exchange is sure to bring changes that will affect the inhabitants of the island in a huge way. One thing is certain: neither Cuba nor the world will be the same.

One of the island’s biggest assets is music, and the embargo has kept many new artists from getting their music heard in the U.S. We decided it would be a great time to shine a light on what’s happening musically there, so we asked Pedrito Martinez to tap some of his favorite Cuban acts – especially ones that spotlight the island’s classic rhythms.

Martinez, who is based in New York, gave us some perspective on what’s happening. “Cuban music is going in a new, different direction in terms of sound, roots, and personality. Now, everything in Cuba is reggaeton combined with some timba or modern Cuban music – which I love – but at the same time, it’s not the authentic music of Cuba.”

He continued, “On the other hand, what I’ve been happiest to see is the acceptance of rumba and Afro-Cuban music that incorporates the Yoruba religion, especially the chants. In the past, this music was discriminated against and suffered [from] much prejudice from the Cuban government. It’s been amazing for me to see this change. In the future, I hope to see the younger generation of Cuban musicians return to appreciating the roots of Cuban music and incorporate it more into their music.”

Check out the playlist and don’t miss the Pedrito Martinez Group’s single “Dios Mío,” a mighty son featuring Descemer Bueno that incorporates some Ruben Bládes-esque social commentary.