Commentary

Rap Excites Cusco with Rhymes, Reflection, and Passion

Young guys going to practice rap lyrics.
Young guys going to practice rap lyrics.

Music claims a space in all our lives. Our ears delight ever time one of these melodies begins to sound and our mood starts to change. Memories, sad and happy, of what we have lived come back with the strains of song. Thanks to music we remember feelings from our past.

Who doesn’t have a favorite band, singer, and musical style? I think we all do. We all listen to music at any time of the day. We do it to relax, to have fun, to loose stress, and while we are working.

Over time, music has evolved and new genres appeared. In Peru, around 2000, if I do not misremember, the music sounding those days was cumbia, salsa, rock, chicha, and techno. These genres were taking everything. Their songs were sung and danced to by all the young people. But that year a new song style began to appear here that changed everything completely. This was reggaeton, an urban music born in Puerto Rico and sung now throughout Latin America. Rap also joined this musical style as part of urban culture. Thanks to their creative songs they became the music most listened to by Peruvian youth.

In the discotheques and parties reggaeton has taken over the dance floor with its sensual steps. Rap is listened too and is imitated. Its songs are a sequence of words that rhyme one with another. This awakens a great passion in the youth. While listening to it at full volume they begin to practice new rhyme and become authors; they create their own songs.

Young children and youths practice rap in all the different cities of Peru. In our city, many perform this genre of music. They do it as if, for them, this were a sport. They hold battles in our neighborhoods, plazas, and streets of the city.

Young people gather around and one takes off, reciting his rap while everyone listens intently. He finishes with a daring look and someone else steps into the middle of the circle to pick up the rap and perform their own. The moments in the plazas, not infrequently after dark, are intense and creative.

There is more, however. Thanks to this type of music some youths are able to earn their way in honorably. They perform a job that not everyone would do. They climb into our buses and politely ask permission from the driver to begin. People in the bus are seated comfortably when suddenly the bus becomes a concert hall when a resonant and sharp voice says: “Ladies and gentlemen, before everything else, good afternoon. I have come to offer you a bit of rap. I hope you enjoy it.”

After announcing these few words the performer turns on a small box in his hands and it lays down a beat. The rappers know this as a base on which they can rhyme and improvise. The performer raises the volume of his voice and begins to express his ideas through rhymes, with no fear, and with his eyes fixed forward. When his presentation is over, he passes among the seats and asks the people seated there to collaborate by giving him some money.

Rap is part of the life of many young people in Cusco. Singing, rhyming, and improvising help them pass the time while sharing their emotions and dedicating songs to their audiences and loved ones.

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