The Obsesión (Obsession) duo should be included when talking about the history of the Hip Hop in Cuba. This duo is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year with the same freshness and desire of creating which have impelled them to walk through the complex but rewarding path of the musical activity.
A «philosophical explanation» about how this duo, made up by Magia López and Alexey Rodríguez Mola, emerged, is not impossible. The duo consolidated as a unit as time was passing by, supported by lot of work and love for the music that is born in the neighborhood and reflects life with its conflicts.
Alexey takes the initiative with his characteristic humor to tell that «there were eight members at first; but suddenly I was alone, and while I was working on compositions, I asked Magia to help me with the chorus lines and some verses of the songs. Thus, she was gradually getting more active presence, until we finally unite in our first performance at the Liceo de Regla on June 25, 1996.
«We emerge at a time when there were many “aggressive” names like Amenaza, Bajo Mundo and Tercera Roca, among others; so we looked for a name that came a little out of that line, and from a huge list we chose Obsesión (Obsession) » the famous rapper added.
Magia, his counterpart, says that «in those years of the special period, we were always looking for places to introduce ourselves, although, paradoxically, there were many more locales to sing that at present.
«We recorded in the fridge of the Coppelita in Malecon, where we had a friend who helped us on the technical issues. We had to do very quickly, because we were freezing, » Magia, who was also the Director for the Cuban Rap Agency, confesses with a laugh.
«We made one of the first cassettes of this kind of music, » Alexey adds, highlighting the importance of the work that turned them into members of the first generation of Hip Hop in Cuba. The material became the prelude to his first album Un montón de cosas (A lot of things) produced by Roberto Fonseca in 2002, under the EGREM label.
Feed on the Roots
The Afro-Cuban elements are essential for the rap that Obsesión began in the 90s, and which has defined its work at present. This musical couple believe that «the Cuban Hip Hop movement in general has a debt with African roots. »
Alexey believes that the Hip Hop movement in Cuba has to take more from this cultural wealth. «I am not a supporter of the cliché that considers that drums and key have to be included in each topic for defining the Cuban identity. I like to make music and we merge those elements when it’s possible. It’s not about forcing them incoherently; but in an organic way, as it comes to the work, » the artist highlighted.
For her part, Magia supports the idea of his partner and she makes reference to what they call the Orishas phenomenon, noting that at some point, all other rap groups began to sound like them. And though it was the hallmark of the group, a touch of Cuban identity could be included.
«The development of our music sometimes is difficult because of the absence of advanced technology equipment needed for the production. Around the world the rap is something normal, having a great quality. However, in Cuba rap is still seen as a novelty, and it creates uncertainty in the audience and institutions, » Magic added.
A Different Sonority
The music by Obsesión surprises not only by the harmonious combinations of Hip Hop with other genres like Jazz; but also by the so peculiar lyrics, committed to social issues.
Regarding the singularity of this couple within the rap genre, Alexey considers that it might be a connection in the way of developing the topics, the feeling on the stage, the different points of view and the treatment of the contents of each song.
«We can take up to three months to write the lyrics of a song, because the topics are very trite, and it’s not a matter of avoiding the topic; but treating it from a different edge," he, who is also the composer of Esta es mi mamá (This is my Mom) says.
«The composition of the duo, having a man and a woman, also brings certain particularity because she exposes her point of views as a woman, contrasting with my male perspectives, so we must seek a balance. In addition, the movement is mostly dominated by men and the presence of Magia brings a different taste.
Obsesión was the winner of the 2011 Cubadisco Award in the Rap category for the Negro (Black) CD, the first record they make addressing racial issues.
Thus, Magia López has said: «Negro takes into account this kind of taboo that has existed regarding racism, because it has contributed to the debate on this issue. If we have to choose, the issue of race would be like our banner. »
«The same happened with the video of the song Pelos, winner of the Lucas Award and which received a great criticism by the prominent Rufo Caballero, allowing the creation of lines of discussion about the complex of black women about their hair and beauty standards, » the artist, who occupies a leading role in this video, highlights.
The energy and bravery of Obsesión have not undermined over the years. So, this duo, which is currently in the production of a new phonogram which intends to continue seducing the audience from reflection and healthy suggestion on controversial issues seen through the Hip Hop.
Translated by ESTI