This past week, Questlove led the charge for American artists on the engagement process with Cuba. DJ, producer, and drummer Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson visited Havana, Cuba, as a gesture of goodwill towards the Cuban people by providing 2 nights of DJ’ing to a bevy of young Cubans on April 16 and 17th, 2015. The performance was designed for his love of the Cuban people and an effort to foster more cultural exchanges with Cuba's civil society.
The performance took place just a few days after President Obama and Raul Castro sat down for their historic meeting at The Summit of the Americas in Panama to forge a more fruitful relationship. "It’s always been a dream of mine to DJ in Havana” says Questlove. “I’ve been to Cuba before with The Roots and its monumental and humbling to be considered an Ambassador of Hip-Hop to this great nation."
The two DJ nights took place at La Fabrica de Arte Cubano (FAC), an old factory in Vedado which was converted into a community art center and nightclub. FAC is the leading hub of creativity in Cuba today, pushing the needle forward by hosting events in music, art, design, theater, and film. The venue’s founder, X Alfonso, is one of Cuba’s most respected artists today, and greeted Questlove with a smile and open arms upon entering the venue.
“What makes Cuba so beautiful is the open mind to all forms of music that permeates from all of its people. It¹s a rarity for me to be able to construct a genre-spanning DJ set of 585 songs and have the crowd embrace every single song. The energy of the crowd reflected the cultural infusion and overall appreciation of music that one should expect when performing in Cuba. I honestly can’t wait to return."
Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist Josh Klinghoffer accompanied the group and opened the second night at FAC with a Hendrix-esque version of the Cuban National Anthem. He promised to return with the full RHCP band.
Local DJ's BJoyce & Edgaro Productor’n’Jefe set the stage for the Grammy winning artist, pumping up the crowd to new levels. The sets were booked from 10:00am til 3:00am, however on the second night, Ahmir delivered an extra hour, resulting in residents cubans joyously dancing til 4:00 am.
La Fabrica de Arte Cubano is located on 26th and 11th street in Vedado neighborhood in Havana. Partners for the event include: FAC (Factory de Arte Cubano), Okayplayer, Questlove, You and Me Inc. and Sugar Barons