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Toronto Jazz Festival: Cimafunk
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From the Promoter
Cimafunk is an Afro-Cuban Rockstar. His name refers to his heritage as a ‘cimarrón,’ Cubans of African descent who resisted and escaped slavery, as well as to the essence of his music that aims to subvert conventional sounds with rhythmic innovation. By bringing out the best in Cuban rhythms and traditions and infusing sounds and styles from Africa and the U.S., Cimafunk has created something unique and special, not only in terms of music but also with the values he stands for. He is redefining contemporary Cuban music as well as Afro-Latin identity and the fusion of black cultures.
Cimafunk’s monumental second album El Alimento was released in October 2021, receiving overwhelming praise. Rolling Stone ranked it #3 of the Best Spanish-Language and Bilingual Albums of 2021 and #23 of the 50 Best Albums of 2021. El Alimento was also among NPR’s Best Latin Music of 2021 and #1 of Le Monde’s Latin Music favorites. Singles also made their way through 2021 lists: Rómpelo ft. Lupe Fiasco was among NPR Alt.Latino’s best singles of 2021 and Funk Aspirin ft. George Clinton in Remezcla’s 10 Best Indie Pop, Rock, & Chill Songs of 2021.
Co-produced by Cimafunk and Grammy-award winning producer Jack Splash (CeeLo Green, Kendrick Lamar, Alicia Keys), the sonically dynamic collection masterfully blends Afro-Cuban sounds and rhythms with global funk, hip hop and soul—resulting in a progressive, head-bopping celebration of black music’s power to eclipse borders and cross-pollinate across cultures. Written and recorded over 2020, the album served as an alimento for the soul, a motivation to persevere through the pandemic, as Cimafunk spent countless hours studying decades of musical influences to help understand who he is musically and culturally, and thus, where he wanted this album to take him.
As innovative funk forefather George Clinton (Parliament-Funkadelic), who sings alongside Cimafunk on the opening track "Funk Aspirin," says: “Cimafunk takes it back there while keeping it in the now. It’s what we do, always reinventing the Funk to keep it fresh.”
Along with Clinton, El Alimento also includes collaborations with US hip hop stars Lupe Fiasco and CeeLo Green; Jamaican dancehall singer Stylo G and Afro-Colombian hip hop group ChocQuibTown; as well as Cuban musicians Chucho Valdés, an AfroCuban jazz icon and '70s funk pioneer, Los Papines, a Cuban Rumba group whose career spans six decades, and Afro-Cuban rapper and Reggaetonero El Micha.
George Clinton says “he is the one, the next one,” Chucho Valdés credits him with “uniting Afro-Cuban and African American,” and Fito Páez calls him “the future.” According to The New York Times, Cimafunk is on “Quest to Create One Nation Under a Groove,” NPR asserts he’s on his way to “world domination by way of the funk and clave,” and Rolling Stone describes his music as “an electrifying combination of funk and soul, layered over the five-beat clave, or the heartbeat of Cuban music, brought to Cuba by enslaved people from West Africa.”
Cimafunk became a household name in Cuba with his 2018 hit “Me Voy” which led to his designation as “Artist of the Year” by Vistar Magazine and the Lucas Award for Most Popular Video. Part of his debut album “Terapia,” “Me Voy,” “Paciente” and other songs generated a frenzy, creating a movement in Havana and throughout the island, selling out venues with thousands of fans excited to dance to the groove of Afro-Cuban Funk and millennials replicating his style and appearance, one that draws heavily on his African roots and the black showmen of the 20th century.
Cun Cun Prá, Cimafunk’s 2020 5-track EP, features the contagious party song “Cun Cun Prá,” a funky pop mover and shaker “La Papa,” featuring Cuban sensation Diana Fuentes, a sensual R&B remix of “Parar El Tiempo,” featuring up-and-coming Mexican singer Salma, “Caliente,” a New Orleans meets Havana horn-heavy, hip hop banger featuring Tairona “Tank” Ball and The Soul Rebels, and “El Potaje,” a passing of the torch tune, where Cimafunk joins living legends Omara Portuondo, Chucho Valdés, Pancho Amat and la Orquesta Aragón to brings out the past, present and future of Cuban music.
Named by Billboard as a “Top 10 Latin Artist to watch,” Cimafunk stole the show at the 2019 South by Southwest Music Festival and has toured aggressively in the U.S. and Europe, making a name for himself as one of today’s great showman, performing an electric live show with his 9-person band from Havana. Just prior to the pandemic, Cimafunk and his band received overwhelming praise for a moving performance on NPR’s Tiny Desk concert series, which NPR chose as one of the overall best TDC’s of 2020. These coincided with Cimafunk’s inaugural Getting Funky in Havana festival, where he joined forces with Trombone Shorty, Tank & The Bangas and The Soul Rebels to celebrate the New Orleans – Cuba cultural connection and blackness.