Space Music, Rafael Cortijo, Salsa, Caribbean, Atlantic, Puerto Rico, Music


Black Puerto Rican musician Rafael Cortijo (1928-1982) is a key feature in Puerto Rican, Caribbean, and Latin American music. He is one of the few musicians celebrated internationally for his skills as a percussionist, orchestra leader, and composer. Despite this, his music is often described as as ‘noise’, or at least that was my memory growing up in a predominantly white community in Puerto Rico. This article proposes and theorizes the existence of a Hispanic Caribbean Space Music emerging at the same time of the Afrofuturist movement and to which Rafael Cortijo makes a great contribution. By doing this, I seek to decentralize African-American cultural production within Afrofuturism by expanding the discussion to Hispanic Afro Caribbean cultural, social, and political venues, centering on Puerto Rico. I explore how the Puerto Rican musical scene and sounds can be inserted into the discussion of other, better worlds for Black and Afrodescendants. To achieve this, I retheorize the designations of Blackness, Afrodescendent, and African Diaspora that are used to characterize the traditional stories conceived by these communities by expanding the limits of their definition beyond that of the Black Atlantic.



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