EMPT Classics: Dub Sonata – Nights In Cuba

Getting the exclusive on Nights In Cuba was one of EMPT’s proudest moments, a true underground classic that has been one of our most popular post to date. Re-enjoy.

Originally posted December 20th, 2010


When it comes to music, it’s no secret that out of struggle comes progress and innovation. There’s no greater example of that than the rich, ingenious and often suppressed musical culture of Cuba. Of course, you can’t talk about Cuba without mentioning the big boss international icon of rebellion Comandante Fidel Castro. Good or bad, his influence on the country has been overwhelming and his 1984 type of rule extends itself into every single aspect of Cuban life, the arts being no exception. In fact, some of the most popular Cuban musicians we know, i.e. Celia Cruz were exiles who became “unpersons” because of their association with the anti-revolutionary movement. If you’re familiar with the logic of doublethink, being labeled an “unperson” means you never became anything because according to every single book in Cuban history you never existed – slice…

And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed—if all records told the same tale—then the lie passed into history and became truth. ‘Who controls the past’ ran the Party slogan, ‘controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.'” – George Orwell, 1984

Castro is well aware of music’s unstoppable power and with the rise of Hip Hop in the country, the government established the Cuban Rap Agency which provides artists with a record label and resources as long as they don’t speak negatively about the country. Did I mention 1984 already?

EMPT is always in a state of revolt but why all the counter culture talk today? Well, today is an exciting day for us because for the second time in our history we are exclusively releasing an album and it’s got rebel written all over it. Say hello to Dub Sonata’s Nights in Cuba, an album inspired by an impromptu, risky yet inspirational trip and cultural experience in Cuba.

I was fascinated when Dub was telling me how one day he’s sitting at home, his friend calls him from the Cayman Islands and says he can get to Cuba from where he was staying. The next day Dub is in the Caymans, two days later no tour guide or reservations he’s in Cuba. As fate would have it he meets a musician who shows him around town and puts him on to a very suspect variety store that randomly has over 3000 badly mistreated vinyl records somewhere in the back. After two days of dusty fingers, without listening to a single track Dub took home 70 plus records, which he shipped back home to avoid questioning at customs – now THAT’S how you dig for records fools!

Back in the states, the plan-less plan continued to develop and Dubs instinct led him to his MPC and the sampling madness began. Drums, bass, New York feel and samples in order, he started showing it around to musicians and tracks went from classic MPC beats to full out compositions with grand piano, scratches, percussion, bass, flutes, you name it – Nights In Cuba was born.

Cuban music is the most popular form of world music mainly because of its masterful blend of European and African music. Naturally, an album that samples such a genre is bound to be as eclectic as the music it represents and that is certainly the case of Nights In Cuba. The album is pure music, there are no gimmicky single attempts, no lazers to hold your attention, nada like that. In fact, some of the tracks are under a minute long and just leave you hungering for more product, i.e. the superdope 53 second song One More Time. Over all the albums reminds me of a dark underground nightclub, the type of place you can go to at 5 in the morning and the bartender makes you a drink according to how you feel.

I have a lot of favorites from the album but one of the standouts for me is called Todos, a knocking, extremely emotional reversed symphony that needs to be used in a movie asap. The second track I’m posting is called Que Lastima and it’s very representative of what the album is like. The first half of the song starts with a very dirty sounding authentic Cuban introduction and then suddenly switches to a banging hip hop beat. Dub must have really been listening to a lot of Cuban music with that production decision. Theres a very famous Cachao called Lindo Yambu known for an extremely laid back 4:00 minute intro that suddenly disappears in the face of an upbeat turnaround. These days it seems like everyone is making music to grab attention which limits the way people express themselves so it’s nice to have an album that sounds so fearless in its arrangement.

Alright, I could talk about this all day, I love what it took to make it, how it was made and the final product. You don’t get to hear this type of stuff everyday. So there you have it, I’m posting two brand spanking new tracks from an album released right here. Check out or listen to the album on iTunes here. To hear our interview with Dub check out our Bandcamp @

I know people don’t buy physical CD’s anymore but Dub went all out with a collectors edition type of album insert. If you’re into that sort of thing check the EMPT store later today, we’ll be selling the limited copies. We’re also giving away a couple, if you want to be the lucky winner hit me up –, enjoy.

Dub Sonata – Todos

Dub Sonata – Que Lastima

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