Dub Sonata Nights in Cuba

"Once Upon a Time in Cuba" kicks off this record with 53 seconds of jazz piano playing, street noise and boisterous chitter chatter. Up next is "Centro," which illustrates what Nights in Cuba is all about: traditional Cuban music, mixed with an organic, NYC hip-hop sensibility. This music is easy to like, but wasn't easy to make. Though getting to and from the island is cheap and simple if you're from Toronto, it's not a walk in the park if you're a hip-hop producer from NYC. Having made his way via Grand Cayman, Dub Sonata spent two days digging through thousands of records to collect a heap of vinyl. By using the bits and pieces of music listeners have learned to love through Buena Vista as a foundation, he's created an accessible, engaging album. It's a shame that Dub couldn't make a second (or third or fourth) trip, because a lot of these tracks are begging for the voices of the many competent Cuban MCs out there. (Illest Rated)