The HBO-exclusive Latino televised musical event pays homage to the band’s native Cuba as they return to the island for the first time in a decade. With a history as recording artists that spans three times as long, the now US-based group, prior to the special, traveled to the US performing some of their most successful hits. popular of the last 30 years like “Represent”, “A Lo Cubano”, “537 CUBA” and “Nací Orishas”.
Orishas at Remezcla, sports wardrobe by Cubavera.
Earlier this week, Orishas and HBO Latino, in collaboration with Latinx media Remezcla, hosted a Havana-themed celebration to inaugurate the now available musical special. Housed in the media offices, guests were treated to hand-rolled cigars, Cuba Libre drinks, traditional Cuban fare, and two DJs spinning tracks while surrounded by lights and colorful plants. Group sponsor representatives – men’s clothing brand Cubavera–were also present and added to the festive mood while sporting guayaberas, tropical embroidered four-pocket shirts of traditional Latin inspiration, matching the style of the band mates and the mood of the evening.
As part of the evening’s festivities, open mic poetry and a live band took to a small intimate stage on the ground floor of the Remezcla to thrill the standing crowd and pay homage to the trio, who were preparing themselves. behind the scenes performing and celebrating their most recent album, Gourmet. The Knockturnal had the opportunity to sit backstage with a third of the Orishas, Yotuel Romero, to discuss the freshness of their Grammy nomination, they would share the evening not only with fans of their music, but also with those who are curious about their native Cuba.
“I’m excited, ”Romero said of the excited crowd waiting to hear them sing. “I’m excited because I never believed this was going to happen. This group exists because I love Hip Hop, I love Cuba. I like to make music. Everything that happened afterwards is truly a blessing.
The group, who have since toured on their own, have been to festivals and even opened for other groups like Metallica, had the opportunity to connect with all types of English and Spanish speaking audiences. One of Romero’s fondest memories with Orishas was at a concert they performed in Germany. “The first time we played in Germany it was small, the second too. But for the third show, the Germans had learned Spanish so that they could sing our songs. It was unbelievable.
Just as their fans worked to learn Spanish, Romero himself worked to learn English so that he could not only connect with a larger fan base, but also rap with some of the artists who influenced the overall sound of Orishas. “When I was listening to some of the early hip hop bands, I loved it and I was like ‘I want to learn English’,” he recalls. Q-tip, RunDMC, and other early hip hop greats were part of the beginnings and development of Orishas’ sound in the 1990s. “Right now,” Romero said, “I like it. Kendrick Lamar. I like Duck and Dr. Dre too much, Lauryn Hill also.”
Romero also cited that Cuba and popular American hip-hop as well as rock music have influenced the sound of Orishas over the years. From these classics to artists broadcast on air after the Internet, he considers that all this culminates today with Orishas as a musical group.
“Cuba is our country. It’s our blood. Is my roots. When I started doing Hip Hop, I said: ‘Yes, we do Hip Hop, but I didn’t want to lose my identity, because it’s the only one I have’… I’m Cuban but it’s like my mother would say, “If you go straight ahead, if you don’t look back and remember where you came from, you’ll lose it.” “
“This is the most important thing – and the first thing I thought about – when I started this, not to put Cuba aside,” he said. Romero thinks this HBO special is a great way for Cubans, Latinos, and even non-Spanish speaking fans to connect with his culture.
“Even if you are not Latino, if you listen to Orishas you can feel that there is Cuba in there, it is different… it is also good to show people my roots and to say : “Look, this is where I come from”. It’s like a passport, it’s me, ”said Romero, who after a performance in Miami following a private show at Remezcla, will enjoy his own Cuba Libre while watching the HBO Latino special with his family.
Yotuel Romero performing at Remezcla.