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La musica de Harry Fraud

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MusicPiff’d Off

TextAnthony Walker

MusicPiff’d Off

TextAnthony Walker

“La musica de Harry Fraud” has become an increasingly recognisable tag in the past few years and a reception to some of the most gorgeous and opulent beats in hip-hop today. The producer made his name working on fellow Bronx native French Montana’s early mixtapes and his distinctive style – a blend of rich samples and mostly-traditionalist boom bap – has drawn in a strong portfolio of collaborators. He recently collated a varied set of his previous tracks and ten new ones for ‘Adrift’, his first “solo” project. It’s patchy, inevitable with this kind of producer compilation, but demonstrates a good range of his work to date and highlights the different ways his sound can be utilised.

Harry Fraud’s beats are typically indulgent but more eccentric and raw than the kind of crystalline “yacht rap” that someone like Rick Ross embodies. A lot of the rappers he works with are fantasists of varying shades: from good time charlies like Mac Miller to artful crime connoisseurs like Currensy, deft absurdists like Action Bronson and flamboyant goons like French Montana and the Coke Boys crew, but all focus equally on the toil that goes with the successes. Fraud actually has a minor credit on Rick Ross’ last album ‘God Forgives, I Don’t’ for putting together the opening interlude Pray For Us, a sample of a prayer for forgiveness of both past and future sins from John Singleton’s film ‘Baby Boy’ set over ominous strings the helps set the tone for a collection of tracks that make attempts to explore the darker side of his persona; going back to watermelon fields and cracked projects as well as Maybachs and yachts.  Though his relationship with wave king Max B is indirect, the influence of the incarcerated legend – really more a modern blues-man and folk hero than a typical gangster rapper – is huge.

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The mixtape cover, a photo of a brooding sky over a Hampton harbour by local photographer James Katsipis, is a clear signal for the depth of feeling the beats are meant to inspire. Besides the decadent crime narratives, a popular choice is nostalgia: whether the evocative Pimp C-tribute Cassette Deck or Kool G Rap and A$AP Twelvyy’s stamping affirmations of their New York heritage; split by a generation but similar in tone. The remix of Chinx Drugs’ manifesto track I’m A Coke Boy, and _We Rollin’_ are the best examples of jubilation on the mixtape and Washington DC rapper Fat Trel matches the producer’s exceptional technical skill and a natural soulfulness. Some do respond in with less abandon – Mac Miller and Chiddy are serviceable but take on an instrumental that demands far more and Danny Brown just needs something sturdy to vent over on _#HottestMC_- but Fraud mostly succeeds in creating cohesive atmospheres with his collaborators.

The samples are often smooth instrumental lines from soul and classic rock but he can turn in surprising anomalies like contemporary jazz band The Seatbelts’ jaunty _Sax Quartet_ on Sir Michael Rock’s Oooh Oooh Oooh or the many sped-up samples culled from unlikely sources like The Bronski Beat and Bryan Adams. A real gem is the WaveMix of Stalley’s Petrin Hill Peonies, nestled at the exact middle-point of the tracklist. The original is perfectly decent but Harry Fraud’s use of The Buggles’  I Am A Camera focuses the heartbreak and hope at the song’s core (“Sally’s garden the only thing that ever moves me/the grass blades and the trees they be talking to me”) and elevate it into something rich and awe-inspiring, almost transcendent.

It’s a highly-poised gritty luxe that’s currently missing in much of the upper reaches of rap and, though his contributions to ‘Adrift’ are mere hints, French Montana is probably it’s most important torch-bearer. His vocal stylings can be as wonderful and louche as his dress sense but his progression from successful mixtape rapper to chart-topper, engineered by Bad Boy’s Diddy and Maybach Music’s Rick Ross, has unfortunately tended to rely on beats that do little to emphasise that. Pop Dat, his biggest Billboard success yet, is a banger but swamps out the over-lubricated sing-song cadences that mark his breakout single Shot Caller and earlier highlights like Playing in the Wind, both produced by Fraud. Montana’s latest mixtape ‘Mac & Cheese 3’ – presumably the last before his debut ‘Excuse My French’ comes out in May – is dominated by the very talented Young Chop, the architect of most of Chief Keef’s biggest songs, but goes for brawn at the expense of nuance. The rapper’s best moments are on tracks that allow him the space to stretch his voice like Water, Sanctuary and Harry Fraud’s Florence + The Machine-sampling head rush Only If For A Night and the Billy Joel (via Jay-Z) interpolation State of Mind.

A lead album totally dedicated to these kinds of overwhelming head in hands and face to the wind moments may be too much to ask but Harry Fraud’s ‘Adrift’ certainly shows a very talented producer who is mastering a style and a broad range of  rappers who are more than happy to experiment with it. For anyone who enjoys rap that sounds like it  developed and emerged from a cocoon draped in Versace, this can only be a good thing.

Mixtape link:

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Cómo la música hizo de Puerto Rico una fuerza global – Billboard

Cuando Bad Bunny recibió el premio Grammy al mejor álbum de música urbana en febrero, se lo dedicó a “Puerto Rico, la cuna y la capital del reggaetón en el mundo entero”. El superastro no fanfarroneaba. El Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico es diminuto. Según el censo más reciente de Estados Unidos, la isla de 178 por 62 kilómetros (111 por 39 millas) — aproximadamente un tercio del tamaño de la vecina Haití y una quinta parte del tamaño de la República Dominicana — tiene apenas 3,2 millones de habitantes. Sin embargo, cuando se trata de música, Puerto Rico es un gigante en el mundo, y no solo por los logros sin precedentes de Bad Bunny en los últimos tres años.


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Bad Bunny

Rauw Alejandro

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“Puerto Rico ha sido uno de los principales exportadores de música desde hace décadas”, dice Paco López, fundador y presidente de la promotora de conciertos No Limit Entertainment. “Somos muy pequeños en términos de territorio, pero muy grandes en talento”.

La enorme influencia de Puerto Rico se puede palpar a lo largo de la historia de la música latina en la obra de Héctor Lavoe, Willie Colón, Ricky Martin, Elvis Crespo, Marc Anthony y Jennifer Lopez, así como en la ola actual de música urbana. Aunque el reggaetón se originó en Panamá, se volvió mundialmente popular gracias a artistas puertorriqueños como Tego Calderón, Daddy Yankee, Wisin & Yandel, y Don Omar, y ha alcanzado nuevas alturas gracias a debutantes como Bad Bunny y Rauw Alejandro.

Bad Bunny durante el concierto de su gira Un Verano Sin Ti en el Coliseo de Puerto Rico José Miguel Agrelot, el 28 de julio de 2022 en San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Gladys Vega/GI

Ese impacto en la industria de la música no se limita a los artistas. Puerto Rico es la base de operaciones de un creciente número de estudios de grabación, sellos discográficos independientes y salas de conciertos que cuentan con el respaldo de un creciente número de escuelas de música, iniciativas educativas e incentivos gubernamentales que hacen que la industria siga evolucionando en la isla.

Entre noviembre de 2021 y octubre de 2022, solo el Coliseo de Puerto Rico José Miguel Agrelot recaudó más de 40 millones de dólares, según Billboard Boxscore. Y según el gerente regional de ASM Global, Jorge Pérez, que supervisa el emblemático recinto, la industria del entretenimiento en vivo en la isla creó 30.000 empleos y generó 2.000 millones de dólares anuales los últimos dos años. En ese periodo, Puerto Rico también comenzó a ser anfitrión de importantes programas televisivos, incluidos los Premios Tu Música Urbano (Telemundo), Premios Juventud (Univision) y Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, que se transmitieron desde su territorio. (La empresa matriz de Billboard, Penske Media Corp., adquirió parte de dick clark productions en enero).

Billboard conversó con 14 líderes de la industria puertorriqueña sobre el presente y el futuro de la isla más musical del mundo. — LEILA COBO

Tradición de exportación

El gerente principal de la disquera Rimas Entertainment, Raymond Acosta, dice que el Coliseo de Puerto Rico José Miguel Agrelot es un tesoro local que acoge al menos un espectáculo a la semana. El lugar (conocido localmente como “El Choli”) se ha convertido en el recinto más emblemático de la isla, con artistas de primera incluyendo a Bad Bunny y Arcángel, ambos de Rimas, que han dado conciertos sold-out ahí. El Coliseo es “sinónimo de prestigio para los artistas locales que trabajan día a día para brindar al público puertorriqueño un espectáculo innovador”, dice el ejecutivo, que trabaja con el manager de Bad Bunny, Noah Assad. Acosta destaca también el uso de la tecnología en la isla, en constante evolución, como un factor en su creciente impacto global, afirmando: “Hemos estado mejorando nuestras habilidades en torno al proceso de creación musical y hemos aprendido a traducir nuestra cultura y tradiciones en música”.

Una imagen aérea del Coliseo de Puerto Rico José Miguel Agrelot en San Juan.

Courtesy of ASM Global

“Semillero de creatividad artística”

La vicepresidenta de desarrollo de contenido de LaMusica, Bianca Alarcón, para quien la influencia mundial de la isla es innegable, describe a Puerto Rico como un “semillero de creatividad artística. … Si hay algo que Puerto Rico sabe hacer mejor, es crear y desarrollar un género musical y hacerlo universalmente exitoso. Sucedió en los años 50 y 60 con el mambo cubano, el boogaloo, el chachachá y el jazz latino, que los artistas puertorriqueños transformaron en lo que se conoció como salsa. Lo mismo con el reggaetón. Los panameños inventaron el sonido y los puertorriqueños lo modificaron e hicieron propagarse a nivel mundial”.

¿Qué sigue para Puerto Rico?: “Las artistas femeninas también están recibiendo mucha atención, lo que me entusiasma mucho”, dice Alarcón. “Artistas como Young Miko, Villano Antillano, Catalina, Cory, paopao y RaiNao se imponen arrolladoramente y de paso están creando algunas colaboraciones ingeniosas. ¡Gracias al canto de la isla del encanto!”

No son solo los artistas

Según el fundador y director ejecutivo de Duars Entertainment, Eric Duars, el poder de estrellas que emana de Puerto Rico no habría ocurrido sin ejecutivos que guiaran a los artistas al éxito, como los mánagers Raphy Pina y Noah Assad, que impulsaron las carreras de Daddy Yankee y Bad Bunny, respectivamente. “La industria global debe saber que el talento en Puerto Rico no se limita a los artistas”, dice Duars, quien conoce bien el territorio. Es mánager del astro puertorriqueño Rauw Alejandro, cuyo Saturno alcanzó el No. 2 en la lista Top Latin Albums de Billboard en noviembre. Duars agrega: “Tenemos una gama de talentos detrás de escena que han sido igual de relevantes cuando se trata de desarrollar nuevos artistas y lanzarlos en todo el mundo”.

Nexos con territorio continental

El hecho de que Puerto Rico sea un territorio de Estados Unidos significa que es un destino “amigable” que comparte los mismos requisitos de moneda y pasaporte que los 50 estados del país, dice José “Pepe” Dueño, presidente de la firma promotora de conciertos José Dueño Entertainment Group. Ubicado a poco más de dos horas de Miami en avión, “Puerto Rico ha sido el destino de vacaciones/conciertos de muchos artistas internacionales como los Rolling Stones, Madonna, Lady Gaga, Elton John, Billy Joel, Sting, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Maroon 5 y AC/DC”, dice Dueño. Agrega que “con la revolución de las redes sociales, los fans de todo Puerto Rico están conectados con una variedad más amplia de talento global. Puerto Rico es un destino amigable tanto para los artistas jóvenes como para las megaestrellas”.

Artistas para los libros de historia

La vibrante escena musical de Puerto Rico crece más rápidamente que nunca gracias a los avances digitales y las plataformas de streaming, según Nanette Lamboy, directora ejecutiva de la agencia de marketing Artist Solutions. “Tenemos superestrellas puertorriqueñas valiosas que representan con orgullo a la isla en todo el mundo”, dice, además de poner sus nombres en las páginas de la música popular y la historia política. En 2019, varios músicos que incluyen a Ricky Martin, Bad Bunny y Residente encabezaron protestas antigubernamentales luego de que se filtraran conversaciones políticamente comprometedoras entre el gobernador Ricardo Rosselló y su personal, lo que provocó la renuncia de Rosselló.

Décadas de excelencia puertorriqueña

“Cuando se habla de música, hay que hablar de Puerto Rico”, dice López, de No Limit Entertainment. Explica que el camino para la más reciente generación de estrellas fue allanado por Menudo en la década de 1980 y por estrellas de salsa y merengue como Elvis Crespo y Olga Tañón en la década de 1990. “A fines de la década de 1990, Ricky Martin y su ‘Livin’ la vida loca’ y ‘La Copa de la Vida’ llegaron a la Copa Mundial y también hicieron ponerse de pie a la audiencia en los premios Grammy de 1999”, dice López. Como resultado, la popularidad de los artistas y la música puertorriqueños se ha extendido por América Latina y Europa, con el gran impulso de “Despacito” de Luis Fonsi y Daddy Yankee en 2017. Y “hoy, contamos con el artista No. 1 del mundo, Bad Bunny, que supera a los otros artistas tanto en streaming como en giras”.

¿Qué sigue para Puerto Rico?: “Escuché de un empresario independiente que quiere crear estudios de música itinerantes en camiones y llevarlos a proyectos de vivienda y barrios más pobres para dar a los jóvenes de pocos recursos la oportunidad de mostrar su talento”, dice López. “Si es capaz de lograrlo, los jóvenes de escasos recursos podrían experimentar lo que es estar en un estudio de música y grabar su propia música”.

Daddy Yankee durante un concierto de su gira de despedida La Última Vuelta LEGENDADDY Farewell Tour, el 22 de diciembre de 2022 en la FTX Arena en Miami.

Alexander Tamargo/GI

Invertir en nuevos talentos

“Hemos demostrado el hecho de que somos un lugar muy importante para desarrollar talento”, dice Andrés Martínez, mánager de Yandel y cofundador de Jak Entertainment, sobre su natal Puerto Rico. Elogia el Decreto Ley 20 de 2012 de la región como un factor que ayuda a impulsar la industria en su conjunto. El decreto ofrece incentivos fiscales para que las empresas puertorriqueñas exporten sus servicios, lo que ha resultado en 210 millones de dólares en ingresos fiscales adicionales a partir de 2019, según el gobierno de Puerto Rico. Muchos en la industria, incluyendo artistas, productores, promotores y otros ejecutivos, “han desarrollado un organigrama financiero en torno a la ley” para ayudar a financiar proyectos e invertir en talento, dice Martínez.

Sello de aprobación para el reggaetón

Según Molusco, presentador de televisión, radio y YouTube, a los puertorriqueños no les preocupa que el reggaetón popularizado por Don Omar y Daddy Yankee se esté recreando con eficacia en otros países. Después de todo, los artistas del género aún tienen que “recibir lo que merecen” en la isla y tocar en lugares emblemáticos como el Coliseo de Puerto Rico José Miguel Agrelot. “El género evolucionó en Puerto Rico, pero fue tan grande, y los artistas puertorriqueños inspiraron tanto a los artistas de otros países, que hoy en día lo hacen en todas partes y con mucho éxito”, dice. Pero “una vez llegas a Puerto Rico, es como un sello de aprobación”.

¿Qué sigue para Puerto Rico?: “Hay miles de oportunidades en Puerto Rico en cualquier momento dado”, dice Molusco. “Hay productores como Gaby Music y Chris Jedi que han construido sus estudios de grabación y video para artistas de Puerto Rico y artistas de afuera que vienen a grabar aquí. Tenemos toneladas de productores y compositores en la isla. Somos un semillero de talento en todos los sentidos de la palabra”.

Solo el principio

Puerto Rico “todavía tiene mucho que mostrar”, según el CEO de La Buena Fortuna Global, Nelson “Polo” Montalvo. Gracias a la variedad de música que se produce en la isla, la cantidad de talento “per cápita” en la industria musical y sus asombrosas locaciones para rodar películas, Puerto Rico “bien podría volverse un centro de creación y distribución de música, una especie de taquilla única”, sugiere. La clave de este desarrollo, dice, es la próxima generación de ejecutivos y empresarios musicales emergentes. “Hay un grupo único de líderes de la industria que están saliendo de esta pequeña isla caribeña y están cambiando el panorama de la industria del negocio de la música”, dice Montalvo. “Desde aquí se están desarrollando nuevas maneras creativas de hacer negocios”.

¿Qué sigue para Puerto Rico?: “Como artista, diría que [la rapera y Artista Latina En Ascenso de Billboard] Villano Antillano es el talento emergente más prometedor en este momento en la isla”, dice Montalvo. “Ella ha roto y redefinido, o simplemente echado todas las reglas por la ventana, cambiando así el panorama de la industria musical y abriendo puertas para muchos artistas nuevos, creativamente diferentes y fuera de lo establecido. Este es un nuevo mundo de posibilidades”.

Villano Antillano fotografiada en el estudio de LA3C en Los Ángeles, el 11 de diciembre de 2022.

Michael Buckner for Penske Media

80 años de entendimiento

La propietaria de Nevárez Communications, Mayna Nevárez, dice que el éxito mundial de la música de Puerto Rico comenzó hace más de 80 años con el triunfo de Rafael Hernández en 1937 con “Lamento borincano” y ese clásico de la época de la Segunda Guerra Mundial, “Mi viejo San Juan” de Noel Estrada. Le atribuye el éxito cultural de la isla a la comprensión de los puertorriqueños del mercado latino y la “increíble influencia” del mercado de habla inglesa. En los últimos años, Nevárez ha visto resurgir sellos independientes, y más mujeres de la Generación Z y millennials liderando proyectos importantes a nivel mundial en la industria. Los incentivos financieros que ofrece la isla también están atrayendo a más equipos de cine y televisión, dice, y están abriendo puertas al talento local, así como la reciente transmisión de eventos en vivo desde Puerto Rico, incluyendo el primer conteo regresivo de Año Nuevo de Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve el año pasado.

Isla de oro

Carlos Ortiz Rivera (conocido profesionalmente como Chris Jedi), cofundador/productor del sello discográfico La Familia, apoya apasionadamente el talento emergente de Puerto Rico, especialmente de mujeres. “Ha pasado mucho tiempo desde que hemos tenido una superestrella femenina de Puerto Rico. Estamos buscando eso”, dice. Y a pesar del éxito mundial de Bad Bunny y otros artistas puertorriqueños en los últimos años, Jedi sostiene que el negocio de la música local sigue siendo subestimado a escala mundial. “Puerto Rico es la pieza clave. Somos la influencia y la guía a seguir”, dice. “Es una isla de la cual sale oro todo el tiempo”.

‘Impacto grande y significativo’

Tras el éxito histórico de Bad Bunny en 2022, el gerente general regional de ASM Global, Jorge L. Pérez, dice que Puerto Rico está “produciendo una gran cantidad de debutantes prometedores que se proyecta que tendrán un alcance mundial en los próximos 12 a 24 meses”, como Mora, Eladio Carrión y Young Miko. El Coliseo tiene una presencia mundial creciente, habiéndose presentado en 2022 en el recinto un 60% de artistas no puertorriqueños a los que fueron a ver unos 100.000 fans de fuera de la isla, según Pérez. Con la incorporación del recién inaugurado complejo de entretenimiento Distrito T-Mobile administrado por ASM Global, “nuestro objetivo es utilizar nuestros recintos en Puerto Rico para aumentar la ocupación hotelera a través de eventos en vivo de clase mundial” a fin de aumentar la estadía promedio que actualmente es de poco menos de tres días, dice Pérez. “Cada día adicional tendrá un impacto económico de 750 millones de dólares para nuestra isla”.

Young Miko participa en el evento Amazon Music LAT!N, Neon16 y Buena Vibra presentan El Juego All-Star Basketball en Puerto Rico con artistas de El Género, el 19 de julio de 2022 en San Juan.

John Parra/GI

La demanda sigue creciendo

El impacto cultural de Puerto Rico a escala mundial es innegable, y la creciente demanda de sus artistas y géneros regionales como el reggaetón y el trap latino continúa en auge, dice Omar “Omi” Rivera, fundador y mánager de talento de Omi Management (Arcángel). La infraestructura de la industria (en una región que tiene más estudios de música que escuelas) respalda ampliamente su talento local y su vibrante escena musical, “lo que la convierte en un centro para la producción musical y una incubadora para nuevos artistas emergentes”, agrega. A su vez, esto ha llamado la atención de eventos de premiación internacionales como los Premios Juventud y los Premios Tu Música Urbano. El crecimiento exponencial de la música de la isla en los últimos años ha llevado al “surgimiento de nuevos artistas de [Puerto Rico] y otros países de habla hispana, creando oportunidades para que la industria musical local se expanda y llegue a nuevas audiencias [mientras] atrae mayor inversión y atención a la escena local de la isla”.

No es un éxito de la noche a la mañana

Con una trayectoria profesional de más de 20 años, José “Pompi” Vallejo, cofundador de la compañía global de entretenimiento en vivo, mercadeo y medios Mr. and Mrs. Entertainment, dice que la industria musical puertorriqueña ha trabajado sin parar por el reconocimiento mundial que tiene hoy. Pero ahora hay más “profesionales de alto calibre” en el entretenimiento gracias a los nuevos cursos universitarios y la ayuda ofrecida por el Departamento de Desarrollo Económico de la isla a la industria y emprendedores creativos. “Como profesor de una de las universidades que ofrecen estos cursos”, dice, “he podido comprobar de primera mano que lo mejor está por venir, no solo en la creación musical, sino en la parte técnica que todo artista necesita en su equipo y eso es muy importante para el éxito de un proyecto”.

Este artículo se publicó originalmente en la edición impresa del 11 de marzo de 2023 de Billboard.

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    AM Lavrov – “How to fall in love with Cuba?”

    Fragment from the forthcoming book “Cuba, my love! On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Society of Friendship with Cuba”

    How to fall in love with Cuba?

    It so happened that I first came to Cuba on New Year’s holidays in 2010. And immediately fell in love with this beautiful, incendiary country. It probably won’t happen to everyone. But why not try?

    I must warn you right away: not everyone will like Cuba (at least the first time). You don’t need to fly there: supporters of a measured, family vacation on the beach, lovers of delicious food every day (of course, there are good restaurants in Havana, but, as they say, you need to know where to go – that is, the country is not gastronomic, despite the abundance of seafood and fruits ), who abstain from alcohol for one reason or another (no, of course, you can do it, but … is it possible to do in France without oysters, and in Belgium without mussels? Probably, these will not be exactly the same France and Belgium), who appreciate too much external decency (after all, Cuba is a developing country) … But it is necessary – for lovers of adventure, vivid impressions, “nightlife” (without fanaticism), music, dance, cigars, rum, travel, communication, diving, fishing, sailing, history …

    For example, Hemingway spent his youth in Paris, becoming famous, of course, he could choose any place in the world. Why did he live in Havana for 22 years? And why did the Cuban revolution become the most “romantic” revolution of the 20th century, and perhaps the entire world history? Why did Cuban rum, cocktails, cigars, music, dance conquer the whole world? Anyone who is curious about this will need to go to Cuba sooner or later.

    The most common opinion is that once you go to Cuba, then to Varadero. From the point of view of service, beaches, ocean – everything is excellent, the highest class “all inclusive”. But in general, this is a well-known beach holiday, which, of course, has its own charm, but this is clearly not enough for Cuba. You should definitely visit Varadero, but in no case should you limit yourself to it. My recommendation is Havana, the Ancon Peninsula 300 kilometers from Havana and the Caribbean island of Cayo Largo! And those who spent almost the entire Cuban vacation in Varadero (or in other beach areas, which are countless in Cuba, including the islands), will envy you. A279;

    I strongly advise you to fly to Cuba with a company, for example, 2 couples, everything turns out to be fun and mobile (taxi or car). Of course, a romantic trip together is also possible, but in Cuba you have to dance, go to bars, discos, get to know each other, communicate – and together, you see, it’s not quite right. But any increase in the company, up to a corporate party, is very appropriate, but only everything will need to be carefully organized. A279;

    And the last. Of course, all this is purely subjective, nothing more than a dotted line around which you will add your own, even more vivid story of the first trip to Cuba. But you have to start somewhere.

    And then you can add an extremely interesting Cuban “Far East” – Santiago de Cuba, the Sierra Maestra mountains, where the stubborn barbudos led by Fidel and Che partisans, the landing site of Fidel’s detachment in the mangroves of Los Colorados, Camaguey, a diver’s paradise – Maria la Gorda, the former Treasure Island, the island of Juventud (Pinos), the province of Vinales with waterfalls and the best tobacco plantations in the world, many beach hotels, holidays in a cottage (private house) near Havana . ..

    And it is quite possible that we will meet somewhere during these travels. And then we get to know each other everywhere. Like all people, everywhere and always, who love Cuba. A279;

    15 things to do in Cuba on your first or at least your second trip

    1. 1. Drive a cabriolet around Havana.
    2. 2. Drink mojitos at Bodegita del Melio and daiquiris at El Floridita, Hemingway’s favorite bars.
    3. 3. Go to the Ambo Mundos Hotel (in the room where Hemingway lived and in the rooftop bar, where the best piña colada in Cuba).
    4. 4. Walk along the “old” squares des Armas, Cathedral and Veja, as well as along Obispo street.
    5. 5. Go to the Parisien show at the historic Hotel National.
    6. 6. Go to a show at Cafe Habana.
    7. 7. Go to a concert (after specifying the poster) and a disco (usually from 11 pm to 3 am) at Casa de la Musika Miramar, including trying to dance salsa.
    8. 8. Go to the fortresses of Havana, including the ceremony of firing an old cannon.
    9. 9. Fly at least 3 days to the Caribbean island of Cayo Largo
    10. 10. Visit the Che memorial in Santa Clara.
    11. 11. Drink something on the 25th floor at the panoramic restaurant La Terra.
    12. 12. Smoke a real Cuban cigar by the sea in the evening (we recommend starting with the brand Romeo and Juliet, then you can move on to Montecristo, the world famous Coiba brand is good, but stronger).
    13. 13. If you “get it” – visit the Partagas cigar factory and the Tobacco Museum in Havana.
    14. 14. Visit the Rum Museum in Havana, and drink (wherever you can find) a couple of glasses of Matusalem and/or Santiago-de-Cuba rum (and bring 3-4 bottles with you if possible).
    15. 15. Go to the Ancon Peninsula for 3 days. And in order to expand or clarify this, by definition, far from complete list, read the excellent author’s guide to Cuba by Konstantin Tublin “Let’s go!” (“Limbus-press”, 2010)

    Short trip

    Day one (Saturday).


    A 13-hour flight looks like a difficult test. But it’s not all that scary. After all, what warm sea can be reached in less time (not to mention money)? (Turkey and Egypt will not be considered yet, this is not for romantics). Even Spain – more than 5 hours. Canaries 7, Thailand, Maldives, Seychelles – 9, Bali – 12, any Caribbean island, including (for some reason) the popular Dominican Republic – the same 13, Mexico – all 15 … On the table – a computer or a book, if you want – they will give a video with a bunch of new and old (which is especially nice) films …

    And, by the way, it is quite possible to have time to get acquainted with a brief Cuban-Russian dictionary. My choice: Ola! (accent on the last syllable) – Hello! Buenos Dias – Good morning! Buenos Tardes – good afternoon! Buenos noches – good evening! Por Fabor – Please. Gracias – Thank you. Muchas gracias – Thank you very much. La cuenta, por fabor – The bill, please. counto cuesta? What is the price? Bamos – Come on, let’s go. Bamos a baylar – let’s (those) dance. Donde esta (aka) baños? Where (here) is the toilet? Uno, dos, trez, cuatro, cinco… mojito, piña colada, cuba libre (cubans say cuva libre), trages de ron (especial, siete anjos), por fabor – please, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5…mojitos, piña colada, cuba libre, shots of rum (special – 5-year-old, recommended, 7-year-old, strong)…and you will be quite comfortable almost always and everywhere!

    The shift in time is also in our favor – at 12 we plunged in the winter, and already at 17 in the Caribbean in the summer. In and of itself, it’s fantastic. And there’s still a whole evening ahead in Havana…

    Of course, you can check into a hotel (for starters – in the tourist area of ​​Miramar, cheaper, and closer to the airport), have dinner and go to bed. But the best way to fight jet-leg is not to give in, but to take a breath and go down to a bar, restaurant, best of all – by the pool and start getting acquainted with rum cocktails, try the first real Cuban cigar, hear the first Cuban songs (usually in there is a small concert in the hotel in the evenings), look at Cuban girls, take a walk around and look at the Caribbean sky strewn with stars . .. And now you can go on vacation and try not to wake up at 3 am, then at 5 … A279;

    Second day (Sunday). Hola, Cuba!

    The main thing is not to rush anywhere. Breakfast in any Havana hotel (even included in the price of the room) is clearly not the thing for which it is worth getting up before 10-11 o’clock. It is better to wait until the sun “flares up” and have breakfast at the pool bar. Of course, the pool is also a pool in Cuba, but in combination with (usually) blue skies, palm trees and Cuban coffee, even it turns out to be good.

    Well, then we take a taxi (a huge advantage – there are no traffic jams in Havana, everything is within 30 minutes) and we go to the beginning (near the waterfront) of Prado Boulevard and “walk” along it to the Capitol (a copy of Washington, only higher). They say it’s very interesting inside, but so far there has been an endless renovation, maybe you’ll have more luck.

    In any case, after or instead of the Capitol, we charter a huge retro convertible and drive around Havana for an hour or two, especially along the longest Malecon promenade in the world.

    If you are attracted to lunch in a fashionable restaurant overlooking the sea – in Miramar, or you can return to Old Havana. A279;

    Here it is appropriate to say that in Havana, historical, touristic and simply decent (sometimes luxurious) areas alternate with not very “tidy” quarters. Do not be surprised, after all, Cuba is in a long-term economic blockade. After a while, such contrasts will be perceived as a special flavor.

    In the meantime, take a walk in and around the famous historical squares. Go to the bar La Bodeguita Del Medio next to the Cathedral Square – a bar where in the time of Hemingway they made the best Mojito in the world (now Mojito is so-so, but you have to drink, custom), nearby – almost the only modern brasserie in Cuba, do not forget look into different cafes for a glass of freshly squeezed tropical juice (the best is guava, but others are good too – or even sugar cane juice – failed rum …).

    Finish the promenade along the pedestrian and busy Obispo Street – and you are back at the Capitol, you can take a taxi (or even a convertible) and return to the hotel while it is sunny – to the pool, then the bar, etc.

    By 21 o’clock (not earlier) it is recommended to go to Old Havana for dinner, and from 23-24 – go to a disco on the 22nd floor of the most “glamorous” in the 1950s club-hotel Havana Libre (“glamor” , of course, has already gone down a bit, but the aura has remained). Sometimes (the principle is incomprehensible, how lucky) they open the roof there and arrange dances under the stars. But even without this, the view of Havana at night is very, very worthy. True, the disco is not particularly Cuban, it’s a little expensive for Cubans, so basically there are international guests of the capital, mostly Canadians, Spaniards, Latin Americans … And, of course, slender Cubans and hot Cubans. An hour and a half – groovy live music, then singers and musicians can continue to have fun with everyone, but at 3 o’clock in the morning, as everywhere on weekdays (on Friday and Saturday it can be until the morning, depending on the “factory”) the music will end. However, for the first full day in Havana – more than enough, if you hold out – there will be no more jet-leg. A279;

    Day three (Monday). Continuation of acquaintance

    We start the day like yesterday. And it is best to continue with a tour of Havana (minivan). Walk again, but with a guide, around the Capitol. For fans of the Cuban revolution – the Museum of the Revolution, personal items and weapons of barbudos, including Fidel and Che. Nearby is the legendary Granma, even if you don’t go into the museum, you should look from the street and wonder how 82 people with weapons and equipment could fit in it in December 1956 (after the revolution, an attempt was made to place 82 pioneers in it – and didn’t work!) and how could such a shell go through a stormy sea for 8 days. Once again, walk through the squares and streets of Old Havana – there is a landmark on every corner, interesting museums (rum, tobacco, Partagas tobacco factory). You can go to Revolution Square, where demonstrations take place. There you can climb the stele, the highest point in Havana. Not far away is the huge Catholic cemetery Necropolis of Columbus, overflowing with statues, sarcophagi and legends (the most famous of them will be told and even shown to you). It is worth stopping by and walking along the streets of the Vedado district, where there are many colorful colonial mansions. For fans of Hemingway – Villa Finca Vigia on the outskirts of Havana (house, yacht, view of Havana). We end the day by the pool. But today it makes sense to skip dinner – by 21.30 we are going (it is advisable to book good seats) in a retro cafe in the style of 1950s Café Habana. The concert (“for dinner”) starts at 22 and it is a good combination of everything at once – jazz, Cuban songs, a dance show … After – a disco, mostly international, you don’t have to stay, especially since you have to get up early tomorrow.

    Fourth day (Tuesday). To the Caribbean!

    As General Mikhalych used to say in “Peculiarities of National Fishing”, “It’s time to add variety to your vacation!”. And in fact, the fourth day in the Caribbean, and the Caribbean Sea was not really seen. It is appropriate to note that Havana is located on the northern, “coldest” coast of Cuba. The ocean is magnificent, but there is nowhere to swim in Havana, and in winter it is sometimes not very hot. Of course, you can take a taxi and go east, 10 – 30 km – good beaches, but the true Caribbean is Cayo Largo.

    This island in the Caribbean with only 2 beach hotels is a real tropical paradise: snow-white sand, so fine that it does not heat up even in the heat, warm bright blue, turquoise, emerald sea, quiet surf, palm trees, corals with many colorful and non-dangerous inhabitants, breathtaking sunsets…

    A charter from Havana flies there, frankly, uncomfortable, departure at 6-7 in the morning and you still have to wander around Havana, collecting tourists from hotels, and upon arrival (only an hour to fly), if you don’t take special care of it, they can give you a number for hours 14, before that you will doze in the shade under cocktails.

    But still, you will start a full-fledged beach holiday in the Caribbean. Do not forget to immediately book a catamaran and a restaurant (a la carte) for the next day – and relax. I recommend taking an all-terrain vehicle and driving to wilder and more beautiful beaches, one of which offers water activities. And the evening can be spent in an international (mostly Canadian) bar with a cigar, rum and cocktails.A279;

    Day five (Wednesday). Wonder Island.

    Your big day in the Caribbean. Naturally, it will mainly pass with access to the sea, including to uninhabited islands, where once, no doubt, pirates rested (and they knew a lot about this). Do not forget the cream and mask (you don’t need to bring fins with you, they will be provided). And the rest of the exit to the Caribbean Sea was very well written by Andrei Sinyagin in the following essay, which carefully followed my advice and, we must give him his due! – did the 8 most important things in Cuba, which is a very good result!

    I will only add that along with a shared catamaran, it is possible to order a yacht or a catamaran for 4-10 people. In your company, of course, it is much freer and more fun, the route is as you wish, from the yacht (unlike a catamaran) you can fish by “trolling”, eat the prey right there . ..

    I strongly advise you to spend the evening in an a la carte restaurant on the seashore, under an even brighter starry sky than in Havana. To accompany an excellent dinner, you will be offered a Cuban ensemble that will soulfully perform all the Cuban songs that you know (recommended list – Guantanamera, Chan-chan, Quesas, Comandante Che Guevara …) and much more!

    After dinner, you can find out about the disco – once in one of the hotels (between them 10 minutes by taxi) we got to a disco on the beach, very cool! A279;

    Sixth day (Thursday). It’s time for Havana.

    After lunch, charter to Havana, which you have already missed for sure. But before that, there is still half a day, you can either just lie on the beach to your heart’s content and for the future, or add extreme sports (do not forget to order it on the first day) – the “swimming with dolphins” attraction. It is especially interesting if there are four or more of you, at first (a little) frightened, but admiringly, look at what a couple of dolphins are doing with your comrades, and then they do the same with you. Or vice versa. In general, adrenaline until the evening is provided.

    You will reach the hotel in Havana (by the way, it can be changed to one of the “central-historical”, especially with a rooftop pool) by 20:00 – just enough time to prepare once again to “add variety to your vacation”.

    At 22:00 – the famous Cuban show! There are several versions in Havana and around, each is good in its own way, but I recommend starting with the best one – in my opinion, this is still not a dancing Tropicana, but a song and dance Parisien at the National Hotel (which is worth seeing in itself – it expresses the ideas about luxury 1930s, according to legend, was built by the American-Italian mafia).

    If you have the strength, you can spend the time after midnight in almost any bar in the center or in a disco. A279;

    Seventh day (Friday). Citadel

    Until lunch, we have a free program – from “doing nothing” by the pool to continuing to explore Havana, visiting the Partagas tobacco factory (if it is open – this is not always the case) or the House of the Habano Cigar Company (Casa del Habano).

    But after (not earlier than 16) I recommend going to the eastern outskirts to the famous fortresses of El Morro and La Cabaña. Among other things – a great view of Havana, many places and buildings that you already easily recognize, as well as a statue of Christ, smaller than in Rio, but also impressive. You can have dinner there, but by 21 return to the fortress of La Cabaña for a daily ritual – the march of the guards and a shot from an old cannon.

    Until 23 you can walk around the evening Havana (in principle, you will walk in the same places, the historical center is not so big, but at night everything is different), well, and then we go to the most Cuban and coolest disco Casa de la Musika Miramar with excellent concerts (usually from 23) and a disco with “live music” and the most democratic Cuban cocktail Cuba-libre (in our opinion – rum and cola). Moreover, today is Friday, Havana is walking! A279;

    Eighth day (Saturday). See you soon, Cuba!

    After a late (see day two) breakfast, we go to the center, buy souvenirs, the Cuban flag, portraits of Che, the famous Cuban Serrano coffee, rum, cigars … Then we have lunch and return to the hotel for departure (it is advisable to agree in advance and even pay for a late check-out, otherwise it will be uncomfortable).

    Departure from Havana has its own characteristics, which can potentially even spoil the impression a little, the best way to avoid them is to book a separate business lounge. But these are trifles, the main thing is that you were in Cuba, which means that you return home already different. And soon everyone will see and appreciate it. A279;

    Day nine (Sunday). Return

    It’s good that the return flight is 2 hours faster, and even mostly at night. There will be time for adaptation and memories. Energy charge is guaranteed. And in a few months you will again be drawn to our Cuba.

    Long Journey

    At the heart of the “short” journey. But you have an additional 7 days. What is the best way to use them?

    The best way, especially if there are four of you, is to rent a car in Havana. And then the following route is proposed: Saturday – Monday – as in a “short” trip, then Tuesday – Sunday – 6 days by car (see below), Monday – the 7th day of the “short” trip (only without the “cool” disco, its it is better to move it to Friday-Saturday), Tuesday-Friday – Cayo Largo (it is quite possible to add 1 more day, with the end of Friday evening at the “cool” disco), Saturday – Sunday – 8th and 9thday of the “short” trip. Draw a diagram – it will be clearer.

    For traveling by car – a few tips. Naturally, stock up on a fairly detailed map in advance, as it turned out, finding it is not so easy. The roads are practically free, but, apart from the so-called “autopista” (there are several of them) – like local autobahns, they are unimportant – from “so-so” to completely broken. Therefore, other things being equal, and just in case, it is better to take an SUV. But it can also suffer from crabs, be careful on coastal roads, and in the dark it is better not to drive on them at all. At many parking lots they will ask for something for supervision ”- there were no incidents, but it’s better not to risk it. Shops-cafes at large gas stations are the best for stops if you don’t drive into cities. In addition to the concise dictionary, learn the phrase “Por favour, Trinidad (your destination) es paraya?”, i.e.: “to Trinidad – is that there?”, and after the received answer: “Gracias”. It is difficult to navigate in cities, but for little money a guy on a bicycle will take you to any place.

    For the first road trip, I advise the ancient city of Trinidad, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and 12 kilometers from it, the excellent resort of Ancon on the Caribbean Sea next to it. It’s about 300 kilometers east of Havana on a mostly excellent road, with stops along the way (to and fro) in the seaside town of Cienfuegos, the city of Santa Clara at the Che memorial and in the Escambray mountain park, and, if desired, at a crocodile farm and Indian village on an island in the lake (it’s a little off the highway on the way to the historic site of Playa Giron). A279;

    Trinidad, unique in architecture and color, can be explored in half a day, including a look at excellent small museums, and by 22 o’clock be sure to come by taxi to the square near the local Casa de la Musica – such an incendiary disco, on 500-year-old paving stones, under the starry sky I have not seen anywhere else! Even in Trinidad there is a disco in a karst cave, also curious.

    The hotel on the sandy peninsula of Ancon has excellent beaches, but it is better to travel around on wilder rocky bays, the water is clear and you can snorkel right from the shore, there are many picturesque animals. And fans of snorkeling or diving can hire a boat and go to the reefs for a few hours.

    On land, 5 kilometers away is the village of La Boca with the cleanest beach and sea family restaurants, 15 kilometers away is a historical (former sugar plantations) and very beautiful valley. In general, do not get bored!

    A “short” or “long” first trip to Cuba is just a first.