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Cimafunk's 'El Alimento' blends Afro-Cuban rhythms with classic American funk

Cimafunk
Cimafunk

There are two sides to the Cuban artist Erik Iglesias Rodríguez, who performs as Cimafunk. "Cima" is an homage to the cimarrón, a word that refers to Cubans of African descent who escaped enslavement. And "funk," he says, "because you got all the African roots that came to the United States and transformed gospel [and] the blues to get funk."

Rodríguez and his band just released a new album, El Alimento. It's a wildly danceable collection of songs that's steeped in both Afro-Cuban rhythms and classic American funk.

The album opens with "Funk Aspirin," featuring funk legend George Clinton. Rodríguez calls the collaboration "one of the greatest experiences" of his career. "You expect it's going to be so intense," he says of working with Clinton. "But in the end, it was like talking with a friend." He says he and Clinton also bonded over the influence of Afro-Cuban music on Clinton's music, too.

Rodríguez joined NPR's Ari Shapiro to talk about how he incorporated his grandmother's wisdom into the album and how much he's looking forward to returning to the stage after the pandemic. Listen in the audio player above, and stream Cimafunk's latest album below.

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