African Music Anthology
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“The First Women”…
Well, the group’s name has the advantage of clarity: Yusimi Villier, Sheila Vives and Yunmila Aguiar really are the first women to record reggaeton in Cuba. Male singers have been doing it for more than three years (Cubanito 20.02 were the pioneers in 2002, closely followed by Maxima Alerta, to name only those who have gained followings off their native island), but Las Primeras are the first young women to have won a place in this very masculine world. And they have done it in their own way…
Elsewhere - especially in Porto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Panama - reggaeton is a terribly macho musical genre. There are plenty of young women who pose suggestively in reggaeton videos, but far fewer get to sing in them. And when they do, they adopt the misogynous clichés trotted out by their male counterparts in their songs. In Cuba though, popular culture is more civilised. Nobody on the island dares call a woman “bitch” - at least on the radio - and the videos do not have the same anatomical focus.
So Las Primeras have different issues, primarily musical. While the three singers do get their own back on ex-lovers in certain verses (who would like to be in the place of “Papi” in “Papi, no te quiero”?), the heart of the matter lies elsewhere, in melodies that Sheila, the most experienced of Las Primeras, often writes herself, as well as in their choice of musical partners, some of the most sought-after in Cuba: Ernesto Linares, Saul Valdez, Argenis MC, etc.
The results reflect the personalities of Yusimi, Sheila and Yunmila: fresh, lively and uninhibited. As soon as this first album was released, three of its tracks began to pack the Havana dance floors: “Papi, no te quiero”, “Bailando en la disco” and “Muévete sexy”. Will they do the same in your town’s clubs?