May 27, 2021

Krudxs Cubensi Joins the Black Studies Collaboratory as Artist Fellows

The Black Studies Collaboratory (BSC) at UC Berkeley is excited to announce that the Afro-Cuban queer feminist Hip Hop duo, Krudxs Cubensi, will join the Abolition Democracy Fellows program (ADFP) as Artist Fellows.

Together with other artists, activists, dissertation and postdoctoral fellows, they will take part in a year-long think tank that aims to amplify the world-building work of Black Studies. The duo, which is made up of Odaymar Cuesta and Oli Prendes, will join the Collaboratory in a shared quest to envision alternative futures in the present.

Krudxs Cubensi. Photo by Ursula Photography.

Afrolatinoamericane y caribeñe 

Orgullo de mi gente y de mi cuerpo dueñe

Afro-Latin American and Caribbean

Proud of my people and owner of my body

Krudxs Cubensi’s sound marries rhythmic political lyricism, smooth diasporic beats and influences from Afro-Cuban spiritual traditions. Both musicians bring extensive formal training to the Collaboratory, Odaymar Cuesta having studied Fine Arts at the Higher Pedagogical Institute in Havana and Oli Prendes at the National School of Music and the Higher Institute of Art in Havana Cuba. They have produced eight independent albums, produced, directed and starred in music and art videos, self-organized several US and international tours, and collaborated with more than three hundred artists and activists on projects around the world.

Odaymar Cuesta and Oli Prendes use their music to extend their political commitment to Black feminist, queer and vegan politics within the Caribbean and beyond. “El Hip Hop viene del Caribe” “Hip Hop comes from the Caribbean,” says Oli Prendes in the documentary Somos Krudas produced by PBS as part of their Arts in Context series. Although now residing in the United States, Cuesta and Prendes continue to centralize the experiences of their communities in Cuba including speaking out against authoritarianism. Coming into prominence at the International Hip Hop Festival of Alamar in 1998, over the last two decades Krudxs Cubensi have maintained an explicit connection to the political roots of Hip Hop music. In 1999, they along with Wanda Kruda, Odaymar’s sister, founded the group; in 2004 they began working as a duo. Central to their mission is the belief that music is medicine for the people and for themselves. 

Mi música es como el agua

Todo el mundo la necesita

My music is like the water

Everyone needs it

“I’m really excited that Krudxs Cubensi will be joining our phenomenal cohort of fellows. They have been making beautiful music, poetry and curating artistic spaces that center on transnational Black feminism and expansive expressions of gender and sexuality” says Tianna S. Paschel, Co-principal investigator of the Black Studies Collaboratory. “They also embody the spirit of collaboration in this project, and I look forward to seeing their work unfold over the next year.”

In anticipation of their time at Berkeley beginning in the fall, Krudxs Cubensi write: “This invitation to the Abolition Democracy program means a lot to us to keep evolving, learning and unlearning as artists, as musicians, as activists, as human beings, we are very grateful and deeply honored.” Oli and Odaymar have a couple of projects in mind including producing and recording new tracks, “More songs, more poems, more talks, more videos. Muchas gracias.” Krudxs Cubensi have close ties to the Bay Area and are looking forward to exploring collaborations both within the ADFP and among the vibrant community of Cuban musicians and artists in the area.

Queens and Kings and people in between

Poderosxs todes somos poderosxs     

Powerful, we are all powerful

This Artist Fellowship was created as part of the Black Studies Collaboratory, a three-year project made possible through a generous grant awarded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The BSC is one of 16 recipients of the Mellon Foundation’s Just Futures initiative funding in support of multi-disciplinary, humanities-led teams working to address the deep-rooted racial inequalities in our society and influence a more equitable future.  The BSC Advisory Board is honored to support Krudxs Cubensi’s work and looks forward to the contributions they will make to the UC Berkeley community. 

Somos Krudas. PBS Documentary.

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