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Words by Lissette Corsa

Cuban rapper Aldo Rodríguez, known in Havana’s music underground as AL2 “El Aldeano” of the polemic hip-hop outfit Los Aldeanos, expertly dodges questions about the many times he’s wound up in a Cuban jail for spitting searing rhymes against the establishment. “I lost count,” he says matter-of-factly from his cellphone in Tampa, his new home away from home, adding that his experience was no different from the guy next to him arrested for mistaken identity or the avocado peddler caught doing business in the black market. “We’re all Cuban, so que bola [what’s up],” he grumbles. “None of us were happy to be there.”

He doesn’t care to relive the frustration he felt last year either, when Cuba’s Culture Ministry approved the group’s 10th anniversary concert at the famous La Tropical venue on the condition that they purge certain songs. That’s all in the past and right now AL2 is looking ahead.

He’d much rather talk about his two upcoming albums, Musik and Duendes, and the fact that he and his socio (friend), roommate, and intermittent collaborator Silvito El Libre — an MC in his own right and son of iconic Cuban troubadour Silvio Rodriguez — are totally obsessed with Cuban hip-hop. “It’s like raising a child,” he says. “It’s constantly with you. We rap all the time, there’s rarely a moment that we aren’t creating music. If we’re not rapping, something’s wrong, either we haven’t eaten or we’re worried about something.”
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