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'The Highlight Of My Career': Diplo On Major Lazer Performing In Cuba

The DJ and producer Diplo is one-third of the electronic group Major Lazer,<em> </em>whose 2016 mega-concert in Havana is captured in the new documentary <em>Give Me Future</em>.
The DJ and producer Diplo is one-third of the electronic group Major Lazer,<em> </em>whose 2016 mega-concert in Havana is captured in the new documentary <em>Give Me Future</em>.

When President Obama announced in December 2014 that the United States would be restoring diplomatic ties with Cuba, the members of Major Lazer knew they wanted to be a part of it.

By March 2016, the electronic trio had settled on a plan: a huge, free concert in downtown Havana. And when, after years of planning and working with the Cuban government, it finally happened, thousands came. For some in the crowd, it was a moment that symbolized hope for a new beginning.

A little over a year later, in June 2017, things had taken a different turn. President Trump said he is "canceling" the deal Obama made that eased trade and travel restrictions to Cuba. Additionally, a number of American diplomats posted there have been since recalled after sustaining serious health damage from an as-yet undetermined cause.

In the midst of all this, Major Lazer has released a documentary, Give Me Future, about its 2016 concert via Apple Music. NPR's Michel Martin spoke with Diplo, one-third of Major Lazer, about the group's dedication to sharing its music, the hurdles it had to clear to stage the event and the offbeat way music and information travels through Cuba — often, hand-to-hand.

"They call it the 'paquete,' which is like a USB key that travels to the islands," Diplo recounts. "Basically, only 0.1 percent of the island has internet — couple hotels and government officials. The music and culture and information travels through the streets via a USB key and a little hard drive. And our music was on that."

Hear the full conversation at the audio link.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.