Although religion in Cuba is mostly Catholic, Santeria mixes Christian with African elements in a process of religious syncretism.
That’s the context where Orishas were born, mythological figures that make up the Yoruba pantheon. The characteristics of these gods themselves have become a symbol of representation of the island. Speaking of the Yoruba Orishas is talking about Cuba.
For this reason, in 1999, when young rappers Yotuel “Warrior” Manzanares, Hiram “Ruso” Riverí, Livan “Flaco-Pro” and sonero Roldán Rivero decided to create a group, they called it “Orishas”.
At the time of its founding, members were living in different places in Europe, but each of them shared a passion for hip-hop and traditional Cuban music. His intention was then, from the very beginning, to defend its roots above all and show the Cuban spirituality.
Unlike other rap groups that preceded them and focus on imitate the shape and pace of American rappers, Orishas, with “SBS” and “Primera Base”, mixed the “philosophy of the street” with traditional Cuban music and alternative rhythms. Thus, these three groups can be described as the founders of the movement of authentic Cuban rap.
Origin and discography of Orishas
The group was created by the disintegration of another rapper project known as “Amenaza”. This group which “Ruso” and “Yotuel” were members, opened them the doors of France. In 1999 they managed to record their first album “A lo cubano”, thanks to the creation and production of French Niko Noki and ex-Irakere percussion Miguel Angel “Anga” Diaz.
The fusion of rap with, guaguancó and rumba revolutionized Europe and America. Finally someone had taken the Latin hip-hop to a new level.
The letters proposed in “A lo cubano” speak from personal experience, of Cuban society in Havana, without going into political problems in Cuba. They are a new generation that did not want to mix their art with political events. This album went “Gold Album” in France and Switzerland and was the first hip-hop album that became “Platinum” in Spain, with more than 100,000 copies sold.
After some personal problems, Livan left the band on tour through France. José Luis Estrada (percussion) and Jean François Orban (Dj Sonar) joined the band along with three other Orishas. In 2002, Orishas published a new album, entitled “Emigrante”. The next year they won a Grammy Award nomination for Best Album Rock/Alternative Latin. In Latin Grammy awards, they won the “Best album of Hip-Hop and Rap” for his album “Emigrante”.
In 2005, they made their Album called “El kilo”, which continue to unite the hip-hop and Cuban son. At this time, Nelson and DJ Sonar Palacios had been expelled from the group due to several issues. So Dj Tillo became part of the famous group. “El Kilo” was nominated for the Latin Grammy Awards in 2005 in the category of “Best Urban Music Album”, and the 2005 Grammy Awards in the category of “Best Latin Rock/Alternative Album”. In 2006, “El Kilo” was awarded in the 10th edition of the Spanish Music Awards in the category of “Best Hip-Hop Album”.
In 2007, a new album was launched: “Antidiótico”. It was a compilation of all his hits titled. That same year a duet with Puerto Rican group “Calle 13” was made, in the song called “Pal Norte”. The song won a Latin Grammy for “Best Urban Song”. A year later, in 2008, Orishas published “Cosita buena” his anticipated fourth studio album.
This group is currently disintegrated. Some of its former members returned to Cuba and founded an independent label called Cayo Hueso Company, with the aim of publishing the records of the new Cuban rappers.