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DVD

Libearción: The Songs Of The New Cuban Underground

By Matt Cibula
Published October 5, 2007

Petrol Records

Five years ago, Petrol Records founder C.M. Murphy (best known for his 15 years as the manager of INXS) traveled to Santiago de Cuba with a musician friend. There, he fell in love with the urban music scene, and made it his mission to bring this music to the world. He brought a film crew there and actually built a home studio to record some of the local young talent. There, the story gets interesting—Cuban government officials tried to keep these artists (and their possible critique of Cuba’s government and society) under their hats, and obstacles started appearing.

This is a natural subject for a documentary, right? It would have been an exciting journey for anyone, and you can almost see the conflict play out, right? Sadly, after the brief introduction, the rest of the disc just consists of videos of these musicians’ songs. Not to say the songs aren’t great, because a lot of them are, especially “Chinito” by Candyman (who looks and sounds like a reggaetón version of T.I.) and the female rapper Fresca’s entry, “Frecuencia.” (The less said about the seemingly forced cover of “Children Of The Revolution,” though, the better.) But there are way too many corny video-style touches—fake scratches on the negative, etc.—for this project to considered “real” filmmaking, and the camera looks a little too longingly at the bumping and grinding asses of young Cuban women. (Admittedly, those asses ARE spectacular.) All in all, a great disc...but a wasted opportunity.