Y a s e l

Yasel Gonzalez Rivera (26) is a teacher.
He was born in Felicidad de Yateras and grew up in that same idyllic place, 25 km away from Guantanamo.
He is the leader of Madera Limpia. Most of the songs and lyrics are his.
As far as music is concerned, Yasel is an autodidact. At the moment he is learning how to read and write music notes. He is a very creative person, putting down his ideas day and night:
I always wake up with my pad and pencil beside me. Always looking for an idea, something I dreamt...
At night, I lie down, turn off the light, my pad and pencil beside me.
Then I get an idea: for a song, a verse, a line, something... I turn the light on and when I begin writing, I forget. I turn the light off again. Lie down. Last thing I did was put the pencil and pad there on my pillow, in the dark, and try to write. And of course, dreaming.
First experiences:
When I began to sing rap, I sang once in college and you can’t imagine how awful it is when you begin to sing before a full house and everyone leaves. It means what you’re doing is shit.
I didn’t know what to do. I only cried, I cried a lot.
I swear, I never want that to happen again. That’s why I work hard and don’t hurry. Sometimes I write a song here in Guantánamo, I sing it, it’s a hit, and then I take a really long time to write another one, no rush.
Because a frustrated artist is the most unpleasant thing there is.

Where does his inspiration come from?
In the streets you see everything. In the streets I see the ideas I seek, ideas, stories, social friction.
In the streets people walk, clash, you can have new experiences, learn, stumble.
The streets, for the young people of today, for anyone, are the school of life.
In the street I met a girl… I went steady with her in the street, and in the street that girl betrayed me. In the street I was offered a deal, legal or illegal… The problem with the street is that you have to learn to avoid its bad aspects, because some people take all the evils of the street and become a part… of the street. That’s why I tell you that the street is a school.

About Yateras, where the Changüi comes from:
Every time I go to Yateras, it’s peaceful, less noise, my head is clearer. If I have an idea but can’t get it down, I go to Yateras and almost always I think of something, based on that idea.
And I always go to Yateras, my heart needs it. I can’t be too long without my family. I see my mother, get some things I need, see my grandparents, and then I come back.

About his music and its fusion with tradition:
This story of the changüí kiribá is not known...changüí kiribá nengón is unknown to the world, and to Cuba, practically.
This rhythmic cell with the fusion that we do, may be something for the future, maybe not, sometimes I think it’s always happened. Wood music, with the tres, bongo del monte, marímbula, and all that... mixed with (electro) acoustic music, but always with traditional instruments.

Why RAP?
My rap is an expression of the younger people, what they live, see, feel... what comes from here, what they see every day. You can’t make rap for the future, modernized, with super genuine lexicon, because no one will understand, you see, it has to be from the present, rap is what happens every day. The young people who do rap look and say: ‘look at this, how interesting... why this and not that.’

How is he surpassing daily problems? His philosophy of life:
As an artist, when I have a huge problem, the most important thing is to write about it. Something happens to me, and it could be a song; I suffer, but I also enjoy it.
Those who don’t suffer are not truly alive.
Why must this happen to me?
It’s a part of life. Suffering is constant.
You say something to someone, and you know you’re making him suffer, but then, later on, you suffer too. You say: Fuck it! I don’t care!
But then you think about it and, since you’re a human being, with feelings, you regret it.
Suffering is always there, everywhere, all the time. When you walk, think, look, talk, blink, even when you laugh, because sometimes you laugh when you’re actually dying inside. I think suffering never ends...

When I have a concert, I don’t eat. I’m always nervous and walking up and down.
I can never know what I’ll do ‘till I get there. I need to see the people, the audience, and the atmosphere to know which songs I’ll play.
The most important thing in a concert is balance. Music for listening, uplifting, refreshing, and the final BOOM...
Women, relationship and sex:
I think this thing about men having several women... it’s normal. Sometimes men feel good saying: I have this one, and this other one...
But at home, I have mine. That one’s mine. I want no problems with her, but in the street...
Something began and it can’t be stopped. Yes, it’s immoral, it’s untrue, everyone knows it’s wrong, but it can’t be avoided. And the way things are going... forget it, it’ll never stop.

If the sexual relationship is not good, it doesn’t work. There must be action. And for the lady, also. The guy may have clothes, new shoes, jewellery, money, car, land, everything... if the sex is no good, forget it. I can dress up in gold, with a load of jewellery, you know, the latest fashions, and then get with a girl, and when we get to it... nothing happens... you’re no good... That’s why around here they say sex is the most important part.

Women are full of surprises...
they think faster than men.
Women are sometimes...
Not only here, around the whole world, everything is self-interest, everything, everything...

About his son PERRO (Dog):
Dogs have some qualities that humans should copy. For example, a pair of dogs fall in love in the street and the female is not interested in whether the male is a musician, if he’s rich, or has a car... she’s with him because of her animal instinct and because she likes the dog, uninterestedly. That’s love.

The most important part of the carnival is that it gathers a great number of people and it’s a popular feast for the town. It’s exciting to see so much people walking around, drinking beer, going to matinees. Many women in the streets, for the women, many men. For singles, an opportunity to meet a woman...
This is common to the ideology of Cuba and Guantánamo

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