Problem Kids are Miami Cubans with a message for Jay-Z about his trip to Cuba. Their response to his "Open Letter" is a new track called "Useful Idiot."
"He looks like he's praising the Castro regime, and we wanna give him a history lesson," say MCs Mario Obregon and Christian Martinez of the local hip-hop group that Public Enemy's Chuck D has described as "Yeeeaaaaah."
They also have words for Pitbull, who they agree should have gone harder with his own response to Jay. "He should have told him that what he did is stupid and this is the reason," says Martinez.
Crossfade: Who are Problem Kids?
Mario Obregon, MC. Christian Martinez, MC. Nick Lebess, drummer. Omar Williams, guitar. Humberto Casanova, keys and sax. Edward Davis, bass. Rick Daugherty, AKA DJ Ethics.
What do you think of Jay Z going to Cuba?
He made it seem like it's not a big deal to go there when there are Cuban rappers thrown in jail right now just for their freedom of speech. For him to make it seem like it's just a place to go on vacation was wrong, and it's a big deal to us who feel it's important to tell the truth about Cuba for our family and our heritage.
What do you think of his response song?
When he 's like, "I went to Cuba, I love Cubans," and in the background you hear someone smoking a cigar, It's like he's saying that's all Cuba is to him. He's not saying anything about the people making the cigars, he didn't mention what people there are going through, like people are being persecuted everyday. It's not just a good time. I'm sure where he was staying it might have seemed like it was beautiful, but what the real Cuba looks like is not what he portrayed. I'm sure the government knew he was coming and made sure to show him the nice side.
What do you think of him being involved with the U.S. Government and friends with Obama?
He's pretty much saying that he can get away with everything.
What do you think of Pitbull's response?
I thought he would have gone harder. I don't know if they're friends or what, he kind of reps him at the end. His song is more about Cuba, there's nothing really aimed at Jay Z. Ours is not a diss track either, just a history lesson.
You have a line about "Women beaten in the streets after Sunday morning mass..."
That line is for the Ladies In White, they go to church every Sunday and march in the street and the govt beats em' and it's crazy like mothers, daughters, everybody, and they even snatch a few up and send them to prison like it's nothing. Dimelo mentions them in the first verse of the song.
You opened for Chuck D (from Public Enemy), what do you think about politics in hip hop?
It's necessary, of course, especially on human rights. If you have a voice you have to use it. Jay Z has a big voice and he should have shed light since he has that power. We don't have that power, but we do have a voice in our community and hopefully people hear it and get a better idea of what's going on in Cuba.
Any shout outs?
To the Cuban people. We did this for our grandparents and parents, and a free Cuba, one day, hopefully. And shout out Pepe Billete too. He repped us hard on the song.
Uncle Luke. With Problem Kids and DJ
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Ethics. Friday, April 19. The Stage, 170 NE 38th St., Miami. The show
starts at 10 p.m. and tickets cost $10. Ages 21 and up. Call
305-576-9577 or visit thestagemiami.com.