Cuban artist Danay Suárez creates music that defies strict classification and is using her voice to bring awareness to issues that are near and and dear to her heart.
As one of Cuba's leading female vocalists, Suárez focuses on positive messages of self-empowerment and gender equality. Her music style, which spans the realms of hip-hop, R&B and reggaeton, has garnered her Lauryn Hill and Erykah Badu comparisons and placed her atop entertainment must-watch lists. However, her rise hasn't been easy. In a new video interview with The Huffington Post, she explained that creative self-expression has been stifled in her country, making it difficult for artists like herself to share their work with wide audiences.
"People in the hip-hop movement have had to be very courageous in order to build that genre in Cuba because of the country's political context. Cuba's been a place where there's been no freedom of expression," she said. "Cuban hip-hop doesn't get aired on media outlets. Cuban hip-hop doesn't have a platform."
She is also up against technological barriers. Internet connection in the country is sparse, so oftentimes Suárez takes matters into her own hands, resorting to circulating her music the old-fashioned way.
"For example, if someone wants to hear my music and they know me, they have to go to my house, to my computer, and I can burn them a disc with my music," she said. "But then, that's essentially music piracy. In Cuba, piracy works."
Suárez has graced stateside locales like South By Southwest in Austin and has traveled the world to share her talent with global audiences, however Cuba is where her home and heart are.
"Cuba is a place that works very differently [from] the rest of the world, but for that reason it's a very interesting place," she said. "For example, I live here and I don't want to live anywhere else."
*Interview has been translated from Spanish.