By: PAULO SILVESTRE
ORISHAS ARE going to perform on June 6 in Rock in Rio Lisboa 2008 at the Parque da Bela Vista.
Orishas are a hip-hop group mixing Latin and Cuban rhythms. They were first called the ‘Amenaza’ (Menace) and appealed to Cuban youths who were hungry for American pop culture – hip hop and rap.
The group delved into realms of music to challenge Fidel Castro’s model of a colourless society and created a black identity that the younger generations could relate to. They tackled significant and obvious issues that dark skinned Cubans faced everyday although the government refused to identify them. Their music describes social problems around Havana which were mostly a result of the end of ex-Soviet Union subsidies to Cuba around the early 1990s.
The group is very popular in Europe and Latin America. Yotuel and Ruzzo, two Cubans who moved from Havana to Paris as part of an international studies programme, joined Roldan and Flaco-Pro to form the band in 1999. They have produced a total of four albums, the most recent being El Kilo, released in March 2005.
The name Orishas refers to the set of deities worshipped in African-based religions that were brought to the Americas by slaves of the Yoruba people from West Africa. These religions, part of the Yoruba mythology, include Santeria in Cuba and Candomblé in Brazil. These orishas, or deities, each represent a natural element and exhibit a human characteristic (such as motherhood or love).
The choice of name for the hip hop group is a way of creating a direct link between the band and the African diaspora. This link is evident in the lyrics to Nací Orichas, I Sing For Elewa and Changó. Creating such obvious references to Africa was an interesting choice as the band ultimately based itself in Europe. Their success is a statement to both the international appeal of the group as well as the global popularity of Cuban culture.
Orishas has sold more than 750,000 copies of its albums in Europe and has won two Grammys.
With the single Represent Cuba, Orishas incorporated the soundtrack from the film Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, in collaboration with Heather Headley. In 2007, they collaborated with Puerto Rican group, Calle 13, on the song Pa’l Norte. The song won a Latin Grammy for Best Urban Song. Their new album is set to be released in June this year and is going to be called Cosita Buena (Good Thing)
Check them out at www.myspace.com/orishasthebest