Interrupt This Program

When the Soviet Union collapsed, Cuban musicians had to invent their own gear with whatever they had

For Isnay Rodriguez, music offered important psychological relief in the hard times of an economic crisis: "Music was the only means to have fun."

'The country was going through an economic crisis and music was the only means to have fun'

For Isnay Rodriguez, music offered important psychological relief in the hard times of an economic crisis: "Music was the only means to have fun." 1:40

When the Soviet Union fell apart in the early 90s, Cuba — half a world away — entered what is euphemistically called the "Special Period." The country had relied heavily upon resources and goods coming from the U.S.S.R., and the disappearance of its international patron caused it to fall deep into economic crisis.

The country lacked many life essentials, and also didn't have the technology and gear needed to make music. For Isnay Rodriguez, a.k.a. DJ Jigue, music was an important source of psychological relief in those hard times: "The country was going through an economic crisis and music was the only means to have fun."

It's a part of my life that I will never forget, because my passion for music started right there.- Isnay Rodriguez, a.k.a. DJ Jingue

Faced with a lack of equipment, Cuban artists got creative. "It pushed us to invent things," says Rodriguez. Throwing parties with paper mache disco balls helped people through these difficult times, and gave a creative spark to Rodriguez: "It's a part of my life that I will never forget, because my passion for music started right there."

We'd go to friends houses, play music and throw parties, and all the equipment we used we created ourselves. The disco balls we made out of paper mache and a car's windshield wiper motor.- Isnay Rodriguez

Over two decades later, DJ Jigue has become one of Cuba's most exciting hip-hop acts — and the country still doesn't have access to the technology and equipment that artists in other parts of the world take for granted. Watch the video above to see his home-made light-up turntable, and watch Interrupt This Program's Havana episode this Sunday, Feb. 26 at 9PM to see more of Rodriguez's life as a musician in Havana and learn why he feels like he's "part of a movement that is revolutionizing Cuban music."

Art as political protest, as a means of survival, as an agent of change, as a display of courage and delight. Interrupt This Program explores art in cities under pressure. Watch Interrupt This Program: Havana this Sunday February 26th at 9:00PM on CBC TV.

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