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Cheat Sheet

Cheat Sheet: Cuban Exports and Expats

by Rachel Devitt

Cheat Sheet: Cuban Exports and Expats


A Cheat Sheet or any kind of abbreviated guide to the vast, varied and wonderful world of contributions Cuba has made to popular music is a laughable endeavor, really. How can we ever hope to even begin to address all the streams and rivers this politically beleaguered yet so culturally rich island has encompassed -- and let flow out into the rest of the world's eager ears?

Well, we can't, of course, but wow, is it fun (not to mention aurally pleasing) to try. This little deep dive digs into everything from son (the soul of salsa) to hip-hop, the country music guajira to Latin jazz, the politically charged folk stylings of nueva trova to Pitbull. We skipped some of the big groups and albums (think Buena Vista Social Club) you probably already know in favor of some of the ones you might not (think: Buena Vista's grande dame Omara Portuondo) -- though that doesn't mean you should. Think of this guide more as a map of jumping-off points. Don't miss a beat!