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World music matters

Cimafunk brings Afro-Cuban funk therapy to France

Audio 14:55
Erick Iglesias Rodriguez, aka Cimafunk, has been compared to a new James Brown
Erick Iglesias Rodriguez, aka Cimafunk, has been compared to a new James Brown ©Ronin Novoa

When Erick Iglesias Rodríguez discovered the power of groove, he quit medical school, went to Havana and morphed into Cimafunk. His 2017 album Terapia (Therapy) aims to make you sweat it out on the dancefloor. It worked in the Americas. Now he's determined to set Europe alight. Starting with France.

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This is the therapy Cimafunk proposes at his concerts: "It's about having fun, it’s about dance, it’s about getting some people close to you, it’s about sexuality, friendship and dance and sweating. It’s all human, it’s about meeting up..."

No surprise then that Billboard dubbed the 29-year-old singer and composer Cuba's revelation of 2018 and his showmanship has drawn comparisons with James Brown.

Rodríguez' sound is based on Afro-Cuban rhythms fused with American funk music. That basically takes him back to his African roots as a descendent of cimarrones, the Spanish word for African runaways who hid in the forests to escape enslavement. Hence the moniker Cimafunk.

"African music is in every piece of my work because I make danceable music," he told RFI. "All the groove we have in Cuba, most came from Africa. We have the sound of Pilón, mambo, cha-cha-chá. All this musical style in the beginning came from African drums."

People in Havana have been soaking up Cimafunk's therapy since 2017, scaling walls to try and sneak into his late night concerts. Such is the enthusiasm he's begun adapting his sound and changing the songs in relation to the way the public reacts.

The song Me Voy (I'm going) is basically an everyday story from the streets of Havana: "You look at the person and the person looks at you and you both know that you wanna meet each other". It's a kind of 'your place or mine?' song about living the moment.

"What I’m trying to do is make you go to my concert and forget your troubles. You just have one or two hours of the show, of dancing, to figure out what you’re gonna do with your body."

For anyone lucky enough to catch the young singer, composer and producer in action, then do!

If you want to hear more about funk in Cuba, the impact internet has had on his rapid rise to fame (lots), the origins of the album (ski station in France) and of course listen to the music, then check out the podcast.

Cimafunk play at Parc Floral as part of the Paris Jazz Festival on 25 Juillet 2019.

For other tour dates, follow Cimafunk on facebook

The official website here

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