You Should Stream: This Doc on How Cuba’s Reggaeton Scene Thrives Despite Government Censorship

Lead Photo: Photo by Lisette Poole
Photo by Lisette Poole
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The Cuban reggaeton scene has been given the music doc treatment in Reggaeton Revolución: Cuba in the Digital Era. Directed by Cuban-American photographer Lisette Poole, the thumping short gives a brief history of the ever-growing genre on the island. Censored on television, radio and state-run recording studios for its risqué and oftentimes sexist lyrics and imagery, songs by reggaetoneros like Jacob Forever and El Yonki nevertheless thrive on the streets of Havana.

Mixing archival footage with kinetic shots of concerts and behind the scenes looks at homemade studios, Poole’s film is a love letter to this underground yet ever-present music genre. More thrillingly, it frames the genre’s appeal to Cuba’s youth with its connection to the growing digital spaces that Cubanos have been making for themselves. If you needed a primer on El Paquete, the nationwide file sharing system that’s housed in old-school hard drives making their way around the island, Reggaeton Revolución is here to explain how it’s helped push artists’ music directly into people’s households. Nothing, as we should know by now, can keep Cuban ingenuity down. Especially when it has to do with its musical culture.

But you should mostly stream the short doc to see and hear how reggaetoneros like Yomil y el Dany and DJ Unic are pushing Cuban music into the 21st century. Check it in full below and get a look at more of Poole’s stunning photography on her site.