Recovery has been slow and tough for Puerto Rico. One month since hurricane Irma and there is still no electricity for the majority of the island’s residents. But things have not really been ok in Puerto Rico for more than a hundred years or ever since a very dubious citizenship was ‘granted’ to the island’s residents. Some of these islanders are bringing their frustration and fight to the microphone and sharing important messages with the world. One of these bands is Yuca Brava and in the midst of devastation its vocalist, Félix Castro, was kind enough to answer a few questions. They use their voices and talents not only to fight recent storms but also a hundred years worth of political turbulence.
Félix also shared with us some local groups that are bringing food, supplies and medicine to their communities in Puerto Rico so if you want to donate or help in any way then please check out the list at the bottom of the page.
For those not familiar with Yuca Brava can you tell us a bit about the group?
Yuca Brava (spanish for “angry yucca”) is a political rapcore band from Puerto Rico. We started on November 2016 as a duo formed by drummer/producer Carlos Anglada and myself (Félix Castro) as vocalist. Later on, Edwin Rosa (guitars) and Marcos Serrano (bass) joined the line-up.
How important is it for you to send a specific message out into the universe and what are some of those messages?
For us the message is primordial, without neglecting the rigor of the composition. Anglada and I started prematurely as a duet with beats because we understood the relevance of the message in its political context. Puerto Rico has been a US colony for 119 years, suffering from the violence of capitalism, racism, classism; among others. Our message is clear, Puerto Rico has to be a free sovereign country; and from this political condition, another reality is possible and necessary.
How is the scene in Puerto Rico for political bands? Is there a lot of like minded bands around you?
Puerto Rico has a wide variety of independent music with political content. Some in the Latin American tradition of nueva trova as: Roy Brown, Mikie Rivera, Mijo de la Palma, Fernandito Ferrer; rap and hip-hop artists like: Welmo Romero, South Flow, MalaCara, Honor y Honra, TMS, SieteNueve, Intifada, Postrap, Negro Gonzalez; bands like: Fiel a la Vega, Tráfico Pesado, Puya, Gomba Jahbari, etc. In addition, there is a movement of arts and very strong poetic expression that has been developing.
What do you hope to achieve with your music?
Yuca Brava’s main goal is focus on the urgency of a trench through the arts for these times of collective crisis. Our hope is to make music that does not serve to stun or alienate, but to accentuate shared rage against oppression.
Can you share some of your favorite political bands?
Rage Against The Machine, System of a Down, Puya, Mercedes Sosa, Kendrick Lamar, Portavoz, A.N.I.M.A.L., Anita Tijoux, Lucecita Benitez, Luis El Terror Dias, Victor Jara, Silvio Rodríguez, etc.
What’s next for Yuca Brava?
We’re rehearsing to perform at some local shows, and working in the pre-production phase of our next EP titled “Cristales Rotos”. For more information on music and gigs you can visit www.facebook.com/somosyucabrava & yucabrava.bandcamp.com
Thank you very much for participating in our project and for the music you make.
Thank you for the opportunity to share our proposal and for the solidarity.
Local groups and iniciatives in Puerto Rico:
Proyecto de Apoyo Mutuo Mariana
Colectiva Feminista en Construcción
Fundación El Plato Caliente
Brigada del Mellao
El Hormiguero Centro Social Autogestionado
La Junta Comunitaria de RP
El Local en Santurce
Campamento Contra la Junta
Brigada Solidaria del Oeste
Bori Puerto Rico Hurricane Relief
Urbe a Pie
Maria Fund (by Taller Salud, the G8 of Caño Martín Peña, and other local, grassroots organizations)
Institute for Socio Ecological Research (ISER) Caribe
Güakiá Colectivo Agroecológico
Casa Pueblo Adjuntas
Félix also shared a second list of reputable organizations compiled by Vanessa Díaz of Dartmouth College:
Reputable Puerto Rican Orgs & Volunteer Opportunities