After occupying a black hole in the imagination of most Americans for the better part of a half century, Cuba is now all the rage. A recent and highly publicized jaunt by Ludacris and Usher was merely the latest addition in a revolving door of celebrity visits that has included various members of Mötley Crüe, Guns N’ Roses, and The Rolling Stones, as well as Conan O’Brien, Paris Hilton, and Anthony Bourdain. Along the way, we’ve seen Instagram feeds and press stills of loose-fitting shirts, fedoras, and fat cigars alongside the obligatory images of ’57 Chevys, palm trees, and the Malecón. But one artist went the extra mile and brought us a deeper look into his Cuban adventures in the form of a 13-minute documentary. And his name is Questlove.
Co-directed by Jauretsi and Daniel Petruzzi, Quest For Cuba: Questlove Brings the Funk To Havana premiered on the last night of this year’s Urbanworld Film Festival and is currently available in its entirety on Okayplayer’s YouTube channel. The video features footage from Quest’s marathon two-night DJ set at Havana’s hippest music venue La Fábrica de Arte, along with a crate-digging excursion and a pilgrimage to Havana’s most historic recording studio. Questlove’s interpreter and guide is Edgaro Gonzalez Productor ‘n Jefe of the pioneering Cuban hip-hop duo Doble Filo, who gives Quest some valuable context about the history of Cuban music and the youth’s fraught relationship with once-prohibited “música americana.”
In addition to offering a view of life on the ground in Havana that goes beyond the usual clichés, Quest For Cuba is perhaps most touching for its portrait of a visibly moved Questlove taking in the city’s culture and history as he reflects on the spiritual importance of his second trip to Cuba and vows to make it back before too long. And apparently the people of Cuba would be thrilled. At the Urbanworld’s closing night Q&A this past weekend, Jauretsi reflected, “It’s a very isolated youth culture, but they love America. If you don’t see the anti-American propaganda for a second, they’re down with us.”