Gente de Zona, which translates to “people of the zone” or in this context, “of the neighborhood,” is Cuba’s most known reggaeton group.
With their unique style of reggaeton, often known as Cubaton, their music has traveled from the walls of Cuba to miles away from an island that deserves more than what’s been handed to them currently.
Nevertheless, with beats influenced by Afro-Caribbean roots, Gente de Zona has found a way to help put Cuba and the diversity of its people on the map.
Their impact began as people realized that their music embodied raw expressions about Cuba from people who embraced their Afro-Latinidad.
Their musical style has captivated Latino audiences all over the world – and non-Latinos as well – so much so that breaking records isn’t foreign to them.
The group was founded by Alexander Delgado, who was born in Havana, in 2000. Afterward, he recruited Michel (El Karo) to Gente de Zona. They toured across Cuba to liven up the streets of the island.
But after five successful years, “El Karo” left the group. But they persevered with the addition of Yosdany (Jacob Forever) and Fernando Otero (Nando Pro.)
Once this new version of the group came into fruition, they recorded the album “Pa La Gente De Mi Zona.” Success swept them off their feet almost immediately and they were nationally recognized on television and local radio.
The need for their music continued to be in high demand so they produced three albums after “Pa La Gente De Mi Zona:” Lo Mejor Que Suena Ahora was released in 2007, A Full was released in 2010, and Lo Mejor in 2012.
Though their musical careers continued to soar, Jacob Forever and Nando Pro left to launch their own joint project in 2013.
But in no time, Randy Martinez Malcom, a former member of the Cuban group, Charanga Habanera, joined Gente de Zona.
This duo, alongside eight other musicians, is a testament to Gente de Zona’s unbounded longevity, hence making it one of the most impactful musical groups of our time.
They’ve gone on to release the albums, Visualizate (2016), En Letra de Otro (2018), and Otra Cosa (2019).
Gente de Zona has always stood by what the new generation of Cubans wanted voicing. They have continuously defied the authoritarian government of Cuba, but in 2021 they released their single, “Patria y Vida,” which is a bitter take on Cuba’s motto: “motherland or death.”
Rather, the song “ Patria y Vida” suggests that the motto needs to be “homeland and life.”
The piece was created in collaboration with popularly known Cuban exiles such as Yotuel Romero, founding member of Cuban hip-hop band Orishas, and singer-songwriter Descemer Bueno.
The song, which can be considered the anti-communism anthem of Cuba, is now blasted during any protest concerning the island.
The influence of the music was not left unnoticed. In November 2021, Gente de Zona won Song of the Year in the 2021 Latin Grammy Awards for “Patria y Vida.”
Gente de Zona continues to push the envelope – and, as they say, they do it for the people.