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Book Reviews authors’ stimulating commentaries and penetrating analyses make the two volumes the logical choices in English for those eager to discover Latin American literature. They will in all likelihood soon become the standard “go-to” guides on the subject. Melvin S. Arrington, Jr. Department of Modern Languages University of Mississippi BUENA VISTA IN THE CLUB: RAP, REGGAETóN, AND REVOLUTION IN HAVANA. By Geoffrey Baker. Durham: Duke University Press, 2011, p. 424, $25.95. Buena Vista in the Club is a critical analysis of urban music in Havana that focuses on the debates over the politics of success and failure in the rap and reggaetón scenes. Geoffrey Baker sets out to clarify some misconceptions regarding the role of state control in the dissemination of hip hop music and problematize the antagonistic relationship between rap and reggaetón. His study chronicles the rise and fall of hip hop in Cuba and relies on interviews, review of scholarship, documentary films, and field observation to explore the reasons for rap’s limited success in Cuba and the impact of internal state agencies and external global intermediaries. He locates the rise of hip hop culture within the context of the Special Period (1990–2005) and evokes the increased impact of foreign capital (economic and global) as a primary reason for the limited boom of rap cubano. Baker’s study seeks to interrogate myths perpetuated in scholar-activist circles regarding the liberatory capacity of hip hop and highlight the reality of consumerism, artistic choices, and street politics. His critique of other academic texts on the topic centers on the blurred boundary of scholaractivism and the ways that these scholarly texts are founded on promoting a political agenda rather than critiquing primary texts. Baker successfully articulates the important role that state apparatuses played in legitimating hip hop as an official part of Cuban music. The establishment of the Agencia Cubana de Rap (ACR) and the endorsement of Fidel Castro, following his day-long conversation with Harry Belafonte in 1999, both helped solidify hip hop in the Cuban artistic imaginary. Building on the notion that hip hop has always been a Caribbean music, Baker links its evolution in Cuba to revolutionary rhetoric and Special Period economics. Baker declares openly that his study will not include an in depth analysis of race and gender; he claims that these identity-based studies have already been amply investigated by other scholars. His text does, however, engage these earlier scholarly works as primary texts and critique the misguided or “naı̈ve” analyses put forth within them. Beyond proving that the plethora of academic articles and documentaries that engage Cuban hip hop have greatly influenced the on-the-ground production of the music, Baker’s critique of Sujatha Fernandes’ Cuba Represent! (2006) directly engages the work of the other full-length text that focuses on the relationship 103 The Latin Americanist, September 2012 of the Cuban state to the production of hip hop artistry. In his analysis of the Black August collective and the role of Afro-centric hip hop, Baker questions whether the nostalgia for what U.S. hip hop once promised in terms of revolutionary race relations is part of what inspired earlier scholars , like Fernandes, to seek out evidence of revolutionary race relations within Cuba. His self-reflexive and inclusive engagement of other Cuban culture scholars and scholar-activists is an important contribution to, what Baker acknowledges, is a field of study flooded by external voices. While his chapter on “The Revolution of the Body” makes a compelling argument for the inclusion of reggaetón in studies of hip hop, it does not thoroughly develop the topic of the chapter’s title. Elsewhere in the text, Baker mentions that one of the reasons for hip hop’s short-lived place as a prominent music in Cuba was because of its dissociation from the other elements of hip hop culture—break-dance, graffiti, and deejay—and he recognizes that hip hop music started as a dance phenomenon featuring prominent Cuban b-boys. However, in this section, his introduction to the topic of the dancing body raises more issues than he explores. While he cites that, “the idea of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1557-203X
Print ISSN
1557-2021
Pages
pp. 103-104
Launched on MUSE
2019-01-25
Open Access
No
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