Cuban Rapper Yotuel Romero's New Punk Sound

The Orishas may be no more, but Cuban rapper Yotuel Romero is now performing with a new band and a new sound called Afro Cuban Punk. Here, he tells us all about it:

How would you describe Afro Cuban Punk?
Afro Cuban Punk is a mix of Afro Cuban music—guaguancó, rumba—mixed with rock and roll that’s more New Orleans–style, blacker. It also has an urban touch because I’m a rapper. Afro Cuban Punk is also adrenaline, energy, good sounds, guitars. It’s all very coherent without feeling forced. I wanted it to be fluid.

What inspired you to start the project?
A lot of the shows that I did with Orishas were part of festivals. I would always stick around and watch the other groups on the bill. I’d watch bands like Metallica, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tool and the reaction from the public reminded me of my youth. They’d shake their heads and really get into it. It was something magical. When I was little, we’d have [religious celebrations called] toque de santo. People would dance and enjoy themselves in a similar way.

Where does the name come from?
I named it Afro Cuban Punk because that’s me. And when I say “punk,” I’m not referring to the stereotype of spiky hair. I’m referring to the everyday punk. Those people who wake up each morning with a dream even if they didn’t go to school or have any money.

How was your debut at the Latin American Music Conference in NYC?
It was amazing. People were screaming. They were stunned; I could see it in their faces. As my dad always says, it’s better to surprise than to have them see you coming. I always want to surprise people. I do every show as if it were the last one. The audience discovered Yotuel as a soloist. It’s interesting not only for me but for the public, who are realizing that you can create a new Latin sound. A lot of artists want to make money but they don’t want to make music. I want to make music and if I can survive on it, great.