In 2004, Europe and the US discovered a whole new style of music: the Regueton. Born in Panama during the early 90’s, this original mix of hip-hop, dancehall and Latin music became a world trend with the emergence of artists such as Tego Calderon, N.O.R.E or Daddy Yankee and his famous “Gasolina”.
In Cuba, of course, Regueton had already been well-known for years, and the island’s young musicians had already invented their own version of the genre: the Cubaton. Drawing inspiration from the basic elements of Regueton – its rhythm, mainly, but also its cheerful and party-oriented state of mind – they added all the melodic opulence that has always characterized Cuban music.
Being exposed to dancehall, raga and regueton for years through Jamaican radio, the musicians from the south coast of Cuba were the creators of the Cubaton. Among them is the band Kola Loka.
Founded in Santiago de Cuba in 2001 by two brothers, Yacer and Yamel Robinson, and their friend Angel Torres, the band first started playing music together as a hobby. “We met during our military service, and it became our distraction”, Yacer explains. Thanks to its first hit, “El Calentico”, the band gained a quick popularity. “At first, a lot of people thought that we were from Porto Rico or Panama”, they recall.
By using slower, smoother rhythms than the other Cubaton artists, Kola Loka distinguishes itself as one of the most creative bands of the genre. “We experiment, we explore different styles”, Angel explains, adding that Kola Loka is first and foremost a “fusion band” with a large panel of influences, including Merengue, Son, Guaracha or Cumbia.
In 2009, they settled in Havana and started to gain international success, thanks to their major hits “No Me Da Mi Gana Americana” and “La Estafa del Babalo”. Featured on many compilations distributed all over the world, the band is now considered one of the best ambassadors of the Cubaton movement.
Kola Loka has gone beyond the borders of its native island to tour Europe and the US, and has collaborated with a lot of great Regueton artists, such as El Micha or Marvin Freddy.>