UK Tropicale EP
"Cuba's complicated. Standing alone and defiant for decades against its bullying neighbors in the North, safeguarding the real gains of revolution : economic equality, decent healthcare, unequalled infant mortality and adult literacy rates for the region. But it's a one party State, with no independent Trade Unions and no real freedom of movement or expression, and the truth is that you don't have to be some frothing anti-Castro freak sweating it out in Miami to consider yourself a political refugee from Raul/ Fidels' Cuba . 'Stylo Pohibido' rapper Roll-X left Cuba, Havana in the late '90s, swerved Miami, and headed straight for Hackney/London instead. His Red Smoke Family studio initially was a base for garage and UK hip-hop artists, then slowly established itself as a base for Cuban émigré Rappers in London (Papo Record, Mr Huevo, Philipsman, Michelito, Kid Africa). Mixing up hip hop and reggaeton ('Cubaton' ), 'Rejalate', 'Tiren' and 'Arranca' here showcase the breadth of that sound : big synths, fat beats, booty bass and urgent raps steeped in Latin-British hip hop culture. 'Rejalate' and 'Tiren' are battle cries, letting everyone know the Redsmoke Family train is about to burst out of its Hackney base, 'Arranca' a tropical bomb waiting to go off. In the name of dancefloor solidarity, we called in some UK brothers to collaborate. Leicester's finest Emvee carries on where his 'Glitch Dub' left off, adding rave-bass, rolling percussion and marimbas to Mr Huevo's 'Rejalate' . Hackman uses RRB's salsa piano riffs and Roll-X's rap over his trademark funky rhythms to get seriously tropical. Midlands bod Max Morrell closes the package out in style with a dubby, jacking, funky-fidget hybrid, using a sliver of Arranca's vocal over slamming beats and big basslines for a pulsating finale."