This coming Friday, World music label Cumbancha will release Mista Savona’s new album, Havana Meets Kingston Part 2. The follow-up to his 2018 album, Havana Meets Kingston, the new 15-song record is an intriguing presentation. That is because while the record’s title is Havana Meets Kingston, the songs featured throughout the record rarely actually find their reggae and Afro-Latin leanings meeting from one to the next. One of the rare moments in which the two worlds do collide comes almost halfway through the album in the form of ‘Lagrimas Negras.’ Roughly translated, the song’s title means “Black Tears.’ This song will be discussed shortly. ‘Destiny,’ which comes later in the record’s 74-minute run time, is another rare moment in the record in which the two genres join, and successfully so at that. It will be discussed a little later. ‘Juramento,’ the record’s penultimate entry,’ is one more rare moment in this presentation in which Africa and Cuba come together in one setting. It will be discussed later, too. When it is considered along with the other songs noted here and with the rest of the record’s entries (many of which conjure thoughts more of Ozomatli than anything else), the whole makes the album a presentation that audiences will find worth hearing at least once.
Havana Meets Cuba Part 2, Mista Savona’s forthcoming follow-up to his 2018 album, Havana Meets Cuba, is a work that will appeal at least somewhat to audiences. That is because while Cuba and Africa do not necessarily meet a whole lot throughout the course of the record’s hour-plus run time, the separate songs do boast a certain level of enjoyment in themselves. In the rare moments when the two worlds do collide, that engagement and entertainment is almost as prevalent. Case in point is the late entry, ‘Lagrimas Negras,’ which is grounded in its piano line and hip-hop style beats. The piano line featured creates a clear Cuban style melody that pairs with a three-note chord and style that is all too common and familiar to reggae fans. There is something about the subtle way in which this element is incorporated into the arrangement that makes it work so well alongside the more Latin-tinged sound and style right at its side. The use of the hip-hop style arrangement meanwhile adds its own unique touch to the whole, as does the horn line, which enters the mix roughly halfway through the five-and-a-half-minute composition.
As much as the song’s arrangement does to make it engaging and entertaining, it does suffer from one issue. That issue comes through its lyrical content. The lyrics featured in the song are presented entirely in Spanish. No Spanish or even English lyrics are presented anywhere in the album’s companion booklet. To that end, it does detract from the song, and is not the only point at which the album suffers, either. This will be expanded on later. Now considering the somewhat melancholy mood set through the song’s musical arrangement and the song’s very title, one has to assume that the song’s lyrics are sociopolitical. Again, that is only an inference, considering that no lyrics – Spanish or English – are presented with the album for any interpretation at all. To that end, hopefully the noted inference is at least somewhere in the proverbial ballpark. That is because if it is, it definitely makes the song overall all the more engaging and entertaining.
‘Destiny,’ which comes later in the record’s 74-minute run time, is another rare moment in the record in which the two genres join, and successfully so at that. ‘Destiny’ stands out because its reggae influence is more on display through the use of the guitar and piano line, as well as the percussion. At the same time, the piano line once again incorporates a certain Latin leaning along with the Jamaican influence. The whole gives the arrangement an identity all its own that blends the two musical worlds so well.
The upbeat nature in the song’s mood and stylistic approach presents a positive, uplifting message that asks a very specific group of people, “Where is your destiny?” before answering that question, pushing the African roots of that audience. It also promotes a message of unity, making for even more engagement and entertainment. Simply put, the overall positive, uplifting lyrical message presented here along the equally uplifting musical arrangement that expertly balances the musical cultures of Africa and Cuba, the whole makes this one of the album’s highest points as well as another example of the seamless blending of two musical worlds.
‘Juramento,’ the album’s penultimate entry, is one more of the rare points in this record in which Cuban and African influence blend together. Roughly translated, the song’s title means ‘Oath.’ As is the case with ‘Lagrimas Negras,’ no lyrics are provided in English or Spanish. As a matter of fact, no lyrics are provided in the record’s booklet for any of the record’s songs, including those that are sung in English. This is really problematic, but even more so with songs that are sung in another language. That is because there is no starting point unless audiences speak the given language. Now keeping that in mind, the piano once again serves as the guitar reggae line as well as the more Latin-leaning side of things. The use of the horns enhances the arrangement’s Latin leanings. One can only wonder how the arrangement’s mood plays into the song’s lyrical theme sans lyrics. Either way, at least audiences will have the music to enjoy. To that end, it still makes for at least some enjoyment. When it is considered along with the other songs examined here and with the rest of the album’s entries, the whole makes Havana Meets Kingston Part 2 worth hearing at least once.
Havana Meets Kingston Part 2 is an intriguing new offering from Mista Savona. Its interest comes in the fact that despite the album’s title, the two musical worlds only unite a handful of times throughout the album. In those few rare moments, the combination of styles and sounds makes for some interesting musical presentations. While the songs’ musical arrangements do much to make for enjoyment, the lack of any lyrics in English and Spanish lessens that enjoyment, but thankfully not enough to doom the album. Keeping all of this in mind, Havana Meets Kingston Part 2 proves itself worth hearing at least once.
Havana Meets Kingston Part 2 is scheduled for release Friday through Cumbancha. More information on this and other titles from Cumbancha is available at:
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