Author: Uroš Švagan
Estimated read time: 10 minutes
This article is part of a four-part saga about timba history and development.
These days, Cuba is on its (very slow) path to prosperity, therefore contemporary timba does not feed on the scourge of crisis. Its frontmen are not the most scandalously dressed Cubans anymore, and do not worship capitalist values in their performances and lyrics. But it is also true that what was scandalous in the 1990s, became the norm in the new millennium. The crown of the main provocateurs has been passed to hip hop and reggaeton artists. Meanwhile, timba has grown up and built its competitive advantage purely on music. Contemporary timba seems slightly more melodic, fuses influences from even wider range of musical genres, more often integrates Cuban folklore, revives the forgotten genres such as pilón, incorporates reggaeton, as well as wider Caribbean musical styles.
The sound of timba recordings are much clearer today then they were in the 1990s. Cuba has invested a lot into state-of-the-art studios. As technology advances, prices of professional recording equipment became much more reasonable, and many musicians such as Manolito Simonet have started building their studios in the basements of their homes.
In Cuba, timba is compelled to compete with imported music styles which can be produced by an averagely skilled computer geek and are much simpler in form. As such it is much closer to Cuban youth. Reggaeton is on one hand quite different from timba, but its approach resembles the timba in the 1990s. Provocative lyrics, scandalous fashion, the glorification of materialism, sex, and prostitution. To compete purely with musical elements is becoming an increasingly difficult task even in Cuba. But nevertheless, timba is regaining its share in the Cuban media, and is becoming ever more popular.