Rap Is WAR
PRODS Tiffany Naiman, Aaron Ohlmann
ED Aaron Ohlmann
MUS Los Aldeanos
PROD CO La Passion Pictures
In the eyes of the Cuban government, Los Aldeanos are the island nation’s most dangerous musicians. Refused airplay, protest rappers Bian and Aldo hand out free CDs in the streets and play secret shows, spreading their infectious tirades about the political and social issues afflicting their country. Despite operating under these constraints, they’ve developed a devoted following. However, fandom comes at a high price. As we learn from one distraught mother—interviewed in a moving cab to avoid surveillance by the authorities—just listening to Los Aldeanos’ music can result in arrest.
Offering incredible insight into modern Cuba, Jesse Acevedo’s vital documentary impresses in many regards. Surreptitiously shot on commercial electronics, it serves as a stellar example of the bold guerrilla filmmaking made possible by modern technology. And, with all due respect to Macklemore, it also restores credibility to the label "underground hip hop." Acevedo details the onerous logistics of operating under the radar, tailing Bian and Aldo as they arduously wind their way to remote outposts where their performances are often abruptly shut down mid-song. Such scenes effectively illustrate the culture of fear that still flourishes in Cuba. However, as Los Aldeanos explicitly state in their hyper-articulate, hook-laden songs, they refuse to let history remember them as cowards.
"A powerful, charming and often appropriately provocative documentary…"—Mark Adams, Screen