Oscar G Describes His First Trip to Cuba as a DJ

From scoring a dozen Top 10 hits on Billboard's Hot Dance Club Songs chart to running his own underground house label, Murk Records, with fellow local Ralph Falcon for nearly 25 years, the 305's Oscar G has accomplished a lot in his career.

But it wasn't until last month that Miami's future-house legend was finally able to reach a personal milestone: make his first trip to Cuba and DJ on the island.

"Man, it was amazing," says Oscar, who's Cuban-American. "That was my first time ever going there, and it was really intense the whole time. It was a very emotional trip, like an emotional roller coaster, and it was just amazing. I was only there for a day and a half, but just in that time, it was nonstop. We barely slept and tried to experience as much as we could."

On the trip, he was joined by Falcon, DJ Lazaro Casanova, and street artist Ahol Sniffs Glue. Though the excursion lasted less than 48 hours, the idea to DJ en la Perla del Caribe had been spinning in Oscar's head for years.

"I've always wanted to do that," he says. "There's been a couple of times that people have talked to me about it, but this time, it worked out. A friend of mine from here who does parties in Miami is the one who organized the whole thing. Basically, I got a formal invitation to play over there with some of my friends."

Cuba was a far cry from the nightclubs the DJ is used to playing. Oscar's set took place at Fábrica de Arte Cubano, a three-story art space in Havana owned by X Alfonso of the Cuban musical collective Síntesis.

"He opened this place," Oscar explains. "It's like an art gallery with really cool modern art pieces and has a theater where they show art films. The second night, they were showing Blade Runner. And in the back, it has a concert-slash-club venue."

The location itself may not have been exactly what Oscar expected, but what really caught the house junkie off-guard was the energy of the crowd.

"The people were very aware of me," he laughs. "I was really surprised. People were taking pictures and telling me about records they love."

With fans even in Cuba, Oscar had no problem blending in con el gente.

"Honestly, no matter where I'm playing, I always incorporate Afro-Cuban vibes, but I really did not change it much at all," he says. "The crowd there, they're up on electronic music in general."

And as a man who's deeply connected to his roots — and has the industry experience to back it up — the real O.G. knows what he's talking about.

"I've always been kind of obsessed with Cuba in general," he claims. "I've read about festivals down there and got to meet the bigger DJs from there through this weekly party I used to do called Tropicasa on Eighth Street, which is a fusion of electronic and Cuban music. But from what I understand, [electronic music] has been popular for quite some time."

Traveling to the island has always been of interest to him, but he was aware of the stigma associated with his visit.

"There were a couple [of negative] comments," he admits, "but for the most part, the vast majority was positive. My parents were proud of the fact I did it. They came [to Miami] in the '60s and have never been back, but they were really proud that I went over there to work and do what I do.

"Growing up in Miami, there's always this pressure," he continues. "But I did it for my people."

That being said, the DJ also understands the reasoning behind the taboo of visiting Cuba.

"I'm sure there are people who look at it differently, and I understand the pain and suffering a lot of families went through," he empathizes. "But it's time that we try something else, and I think we kind of need to get in touch with the people on the island. There's this disconnect, and I think it's healthy to start connecting the two.

“It's easy to sit in Versailles [Restaurant] and eat your bistec and drink your Cuba Libre and discuss what's wrong with Cuba, but I feel like when you’re over there and see the spirit and the struggle of the people, it's incredible,” he says.

Hours before his return flight back to Miami, Oscar and his friends watched la Buena Vista Social Club perform in la Habana Vieja.

“My friends and I were sitting there, and we were in tears,” he recalls. “I just couldn't believe it took me so long to get here.”

Murk Mondays with Oscar G. 10 p.m. Every Monday at Coyo Taco, 2300 NW 2nd Ave., Miami; 305-573-8228; coyotaco.com. Admission is free.

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