Cultura Profética performing on February 16, 2013 in Nicaragua
|Genres||Reggae en Español
Cultura Profética (in English, Prophetic Culture) is a Puerto Rican reggae band formed in 1996. The group's lyrics focused mostly on socio-political and ecological issues but have taken a more romantic emphasis, especially in the band's most recent album, La Dulzura. Despite primarily performing reggae music, the band has experimented with genres such as bossa nova, tango, jazz, and salsa. Cultura Profética has undergone several lineup changes, but founding members Willy Rodríguez (bass guitar, vocals), Boris Bilbraut (drums, vocals), Eliut González (guitar), and Omar Silva (guitar, bass guitar) have remained in the group throughout its history.
After gaining popularity in Puerto Rico as a cover band, Cultura Profética began performing original music and released its debut album, Canción de Alerta, in 1998. The group followed up with Ideas Nuevas in 2000, which saw the group experimenting with a wider variety of musical styles, and then Diario in 2004. After relocating to Mexico, the band released M.O.T.A. in 2005. In 2010, La Dulzura was released, which took a more romantic lyrical focus and produced the radio hit "La Complicidad". Cultura Profética released its most recent single, "Saca, Prende y Sorprende" in 2014, and is reported to be working on a new album.
1996-99: Formation and Canción de Alerta
Group members Boris Bilbraut, Willy Rodríguez, Eliut González, Juan Costa, and Ivan Gutiérres began jamming together in 1996, bonding over a shared interest in reggae music, particularly Bob Marley. These rehearsal sessions took place in El Hoyo, a neighborhood in the San Juan metropolitan area. Many of the original members of the group attended the Escuela Elemental and the Escuela Secundaria of the University of Puerto Rico, an institution noted for its progressive and experimental teaching approaches. Vocalist/bassist Willy Rodriguez commented, "It is a school in which you are allowed to decide a few things on your own, you have free time between classes [when] you can do your own things, and there is a lot of musical culture in the school. It tends to allow you to explore your artistic interests...There was always an air of liberation, of thinking on your own. I think that influenced a lot in what we do today musically and ideologically." The group's second album, Ideas Nuevas, is dedicated to a music instructor at the school.
Cultura Profética originally began as a cover band, performing popular reggae songs in small bars and clubs before beginning to perform original music in Spanish. Shortly after transitioning to perform original music, the group adopted the name Cultura Profética, which was inspired by the view that "music is a voice of culture and is prophetic because the reggae music that we love and that influenced us is from the ’70s with themes of what's happening now that can affect our future", according to the guitarist/bassist Omar Silva.
After transitioning away from being a cover band, the group quickly gained popularity in the Puerto Rican reggae scene. Cultura Profética began performing in major reggae festivals and opening for Jamaican reggae musician Don Carlos. The band's first album, Canción de Alerta (1998), was recorded in the Tuff Gong studios at Jamaica with Errol Brown, frontman of Hot Chocolate and Bob Marley's sound engineer. The group was the first Spanish-language act to record in Marley's studios. The record discusses a number of social issues in Puerto Rico, including the importance of acknowledging the island's African influence, or the concept of "negritud", particularly on the song "Advertencia".
1998-2008: Ideas Nuevas, Diario, and M.O.T.A.
The song "De Antes" from Diario (2002). The song makes use of the moog synthesizer and exemplifies the band's mellow, atmospheric reggae sound.
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The group returned to Tuff Gong studios in 1999 to record its second album, Ideas Nuevas, which was released in May of 2000. On this record, the band began experimenting with a variety of rhythms such as bossa nova, salsa, ska, and jazz. The band performed in Tito Puente's ampitheater on May 12, 2000, later releasing a recording of the performance in the form of the album Cultura en Vivo. In November of that year, Cultura Profética performed at a benefit concert to raise funds for the resistance against the U.S. Navy use of the Puerto Rican island-town of Vieques. At the concert, the band covered various songs from other artists performing at the event, while these artists in turn covered Cultura Profética songs. Other musicians performing at the event included Roy Brown, Zoraida Santiago, Fiel a la Vega, and Néstor Torres. In 2002, the band released its third studio album, Diario. On this album, the band aimed to produce a record that represents Puerto Rican daily life, occasionally introducing songs with interludes of casual conversations and background noise, exemplified by songs such as "De Antes" and "Pa'l Tanama".
In 2004, Cultura Profetica began to focus on the international stage, eventually moving temporarily to Mexico. Their fourth studio album, M.O.T.A., was released in October 2005 after a tour through Mexico. M.O.T.A peaked at number 12 on the Billboard Hot Latin Albums chart, remaining at the position for two weeks. Also in 2005, the group collaborated with Puerto Rican rapper Vico C on his song "Te Me Puedo Escapar" from his album Desahogo. In January of 2006, the song "Ritmo Que Pesa" from M.O.T.A peaked at number 35 on the Billboard Latin Pop Songs chart. On July 1, 2008, the band performed in an event titled "San Juan Nights" produced by a radio station and organized in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Following this event the band planned to continue their international tour. A DVD covering their performance at Jose Miguel Agrelot Coliseum was released in late summer.
2009-present: La Dulzura and upcoming album
In 2010, Cultura Profética released La Dulzura, the group's first album on its own record label, La Mafafa. While discussing the decision to create an independent record label, Rodríguez explained "I can't deny we spoke with different labels, but we didn't find anything favorable. Labels are going through tough times and we decided to brave it on our own." Many of the songs on the album were written and performed during the band's extensive touring beginning in 2007, and the songs went through numerous transformations during this time. Before the album's official release, the band posted songs on the internet, including "La Complicidad", which became a radio hit in Puerto Rico. La Dulzura debuted at number five on Billboard's Top Latin Albums Chart.
La Dulzura represented a stylistic departure for the group, both musically and lyrically. The song "Del Tope al Fondo" draws influence from Argentine music, especially the genre of tango. Lyrically, the band discusses more romantic themes as opposed to the political emphasis of the group's previous records. Guitarist Eliut Gonzalez remarked that the band aimed to shift discussion to "the good things in the world", explaining that "We know that people need help, and that behind every revolution or movement, there is love. We wanted to document that in our music, but without doing it in a cheesy or typical way." The singles "Baja la Tensión", "La Complicidad", "Para Estar" and "Ilegal" all charted on the Billboard Latin Pop Songs chart. In 2011, the group collaborated with Dominican musician Vicente García on his single "Mi Balcón".
The group's most recent single, "Saca, Prende y Sorprende", pays homage to Jamaican deejay and rapper Super Cat and advocates for the legalization of marijuana. Gonzalez describes the band's upcoming record as "very different" from La Dulzura, noting that the group began working on new material while on tour approximately a year after the album's release.
Cultura Profética has been described as roots reggae. The group has often made use of the moog synthesizer, an instrument commonly used in traditional reggae but is generally rare in contemporary reggae. Despite primarily performing reggae music, the group incorporates various other rhythms into its compositions, including those of Caribbean genres such as salsa. The song "Reggae Rústico" from Ideas Nuevas includes an extended soneo, an improvised call-and-response section common in the salsa genre, at its closing, calling for unity in reggae music. Additionally, the band's music features a strong emphasis on improvisation and polyrhythmic patterns. Rodríguez notes that "We've developed what I think is our own genre. We don't consider ourselves a pop act but we do make popular music in the sense that we are supported by many people. People have finally understood what we do." Leila Cobo of Billboard observed elements of jazz in the single "La Complicidad", additionally describing it as "more mellow rock than reggae".
Lyrically, the group addresses social issues including corruption, environmentalism, personal liberty, and Latin American identity. Canción de Alerta contains the song "Por qué cantamos", an adaptation of Uruguayan writer Mario Benedetti's poem of the same name. Author Eunice Rojas cites this as an example of the group using "the power of music to advance social causes". The song "Suelta Los Amarres" from Ideas Nuevas discourages listeners from using violence to advance a political cause. However, the lyrics on La Dulzura place more emphasis on interpersonal relationships and love. Silva notes that the group refrains from "romantic" lyrics, noting that "romanticism has a connotation of suffering for love. We are talking about the love that elevates and purifies your soul. We are talking in the sense of the love that sets you free."
- Willy Rodríguez - bass guitar, vocals
- Boris Bilbraut - drums, vocals
- Omar Silva - guitar, bass guitar
- Juanqui Sulsona - piano, keyboards
- Eliut González - guitar
- Eggie - organ, keyboards
- Roy Sánchez-Vahamonde - percussion
- Ilang Ilang Gutiérrez - vocals
- Kianí Medina- vocals
- Esteban - trombone
- Eduardo Cosme - trumpet
- Furito Ríos - saxophone
- Iván Gutiérres - piano, winds arrangement
- Sergio Orellana- keyboards, organ
- Melvin Villanueva - piano
- Juan Costa - rhythm guitar
- Raúl Gaztambide - organ
- Eduardo Fernández - trombone
- Javier Joglar - tenor saxophone, flute
- Luis Rafael Torres - tenor saxophone, alto saxophone, flute
- Juan José "Cheo" Quiñones - trumpet
- María Soledad Gaztambide - vocals
- Yarimir Cabán, better known professionally as Mima - vocals
- Eduardo "Edo" Sanz - drums, percussion
- Omar Cruz - percussion
- Beto Torrens, Juansi - percussion
- Bayrex Jimenez - piano
- Gaztambide-Fernández, Rubén A (Fall 2004). "Profetas De La Cultura: Notes On The Puerto Rican Reggae Of Cultura Profética" (PDF). Centro Journal. Retrieved May 16, 2015.
- Toruno, Catherine (November 21, 2013). "Cultura Profética brings positive vibrations". Miami.com. Retrieved May 12, 2014.
- Darby, Heidi (2014) "Cultura Profética Are the Lords of Latin Reggae", OC Weekly, June 23, 2014. Retrieved July 4, 2014
- "Cultura Profética: "Buscamos la unión de la gente"". La Vida (in Spanish). October 29, 2013. Retrieved May 16, 2015.
- Bonacich, Diego. "Allmusic - Cultura Profetica Biography". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved May 16, 2015.
- Amary Santiago Torres (July 1, 2008). "Su música cala hondo por sí sola" (in Spanish). Primera Hora.
- "Hot Latin Albums Chart". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved June 2, 2015.
- Cobo, Leila (March 26, 2005). "Rapper Vico C Rides Reggaeton's Wave". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved May 17, 2015.
- "Latin Pop Songs Chart". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved June 2, 2015.
- Cobo, Leila (July 3, 2010). "Riddim & Romance". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved May 17, 2015.
- "Cultura Profética sobre su nuevo corte: "Hace falta controversia para dar un cambio"". La Vida (in Spanish). September 30, 2014. Retrieved May 16, 2015.
- Aguila, Justino (July 2, 2011). "En Breve: Vicente García to open U.S. shows for Maná". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved May 17, 2015.
- Rojas, 2013. p. 501