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Background - by Efrain Ramirez
Inside an apartment in Nuevo Vedado, Cuba, we see Causa y Efecto recording a song called “No Borders.” Causa y Efecto is Michel Ruiz, a twenty-six year old underground rapper living in Nuevo Vedado, Cuba. Recording a song is hard to do in Cuba, especially because technology is very limited. In fact, most of the computers are old, access to Internet is limited, and buying technology is very expensive. To record a song isn’t easy but when it is done, the rapper feels accomplish. This is especially true for underground or non-mainstream rappers. Most of them don’t have access to the music studios, computers, or good quality service in making the music. Causa y Efecto is an underground rapper. As we follow him into the underground world, we see all the work that it takes to record just one song. This is not just a story on who is Causa y Efecto but a story on the background and underground; areas that are hard to access, few see, and where all the hard work is put in.
Next, we see Causa y Efecto and El Flaco. El Flaco, who is also from Nuevo Vedado, is a friend of Causa y Efecto. So he agreed to help record the song for the price of $5 Cuc. But prior to recording the song, Causa y Efecto reviews his lyrics with a fellow rapper named Kuti, who is from Santa Fe. They are very good friends and associated in rap, in fact they are working on a song together and will record it in December. They work together and we can see them writing down rhymes, ideas, etc. on to the sheet of paper. They are finalizing everything so that when they go in and record, everything comes out smooth.
However, there is another element that is just as important, money. The minimum wage in Cuba is only $12 Cuc. Recording the song cost $5 and that is a discounted price since El Flaco is a friend. In order to obtain the money and to survive in general, Causa y Efecto works in many different areas. He does tattoos and dreadlocks. We can see him doing a tattoo on a client. It is a tattoo of a star with a foreign language. Then we see him doing a dreadlock on a different client. We see the vast skill sets that Causa y Efecto. It is these important talents that help pay for things. He charges differently, depending what the job is and if he knows the person well enough for a discount.
Finally, one other important element that goes into recording a song is the music. We first see Causa y Efecto test-driving a beat with Dj Ren. Dj Ren lives in Centro Habana and is the DJ for rap-metal band, Hot Zone. He invites Causa y Efecto to his house to test-drive a newly obtain beat. Causa y Efecto is seen rapping with a microphone while DJ Ren is on the turntables controlling the music. Prior to that and the what would eventually start the entire cycle; Causa y Efecto is seen talking to Carlos, another rapper, El Flaco’s dad, and MC Hip-Hopper who is a friend while El Flaco is doing a beat. This meeting is where Causa y Efecto proposes to working with El Flaco in the future. This meeting will set up the stage for the grand finale; a recording session at El Flaco’s apartment.
Traveling alongside Causa y Efect and meeting his friends we see the world of how rap music is created. This story doesn’t just reflect underground rap but reflects on what Cubans do in order to survive. There is solidarity amongst people and there is a huge network of people. Going through the background we see the true faces and the true reality that Cuban.