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November 6,  2015 -Reggaeton artist El Yonki before his concert Varadero, Cuba. HIs spiky hair is synonymous with the genre, as he was the first come out with the long-on-top, shaved sides look. Here, Yonki preps for his first concert after several months out of public eye due to legal problems.
Reggaeton artist El Yonki prepares for his concert in Varadero, Cuba on Nov. 7, 2015. His spiky hair is synonymous with the genre, as he was the first to come out with the long-on-top, shaved sides look, according to photographer Lisette Poole.Lisette Poole—Redux
November 6,  2015 -Reggaeton artist El Yonki before his concert Varadero, Cuba. HIs spiky hair is synonymous with the genre, as he was the first come out with the long-on-top, shaved sides look. Here, Yonki preps for his first concert after several months out of public eye due to legal problems.
Fans crowd the set of this music video shoot in Old Havana with artists Divan and El Principe. The set includes typical elements of the neighborhood, a fruit stand and a classic American car. 9/24/2015
Artist Jacob Forever's living room in Havana on May 14, 2015. His wall is covered with photos of himself and various famous Cuban singers. Jacob recently signed with Sony records after the release of his hit song "Hasta Que Se Seque el Malec�n."
November 6,  2015  The VIP room of a reggaeton concert after-party in Varadero, Cuba, a famous tourist town in Cuba. Here, a promoter brushes up against a groupie. Often women, money, drugs and alcohol are part of the mix of Cuba's reggaeton lifestyle.
Guests at Cabaret Guanimar during a Chacal y Yakarta show in the outskirts of Havana. Entree fees are equal to about the average Cuban monthly salary ($20) April 26, 2015
October 10, 2015  Reggaeton singer el Chacal sings to an audience of mostly pre teens at a county fair in the Ciego de Avila province. Here entree fees are low allowing young fans to enjoy their favorite performers.  El Chacal has become infamous in Cuba known for his lewd behavior onstage.
September 20, 2015 -Reggaeton rapper Insurrecto records in a small studio in Havana. He wipes his sweat with an American flag. Insurrecto along with many of the genres top artists are able to fly abroad and perform in the US giving them a rare privilege to go back and forth between the two countries.
Local kids join in Damian from Los Desiguales solo video shoot. Though one of Cuba's most popular musicians, he is highly accessible to his fans, as many artists in socialist Cuba are. Here, he films a video for his album which he says goes back to his roots in Hip Hop. Damian admits that if he had a choice he would not record reggaeton, he prefers rap.9/12/2015
October 11, 2015 - October 11, 2015 - Pina, Ciego de Avila tour, Chacal y Yakarta, video.  - Photo by: Lisette Poole
Darian from los Desiguales.
Girls at a public school on the weekend gather for tryouts to a music video where they dance before a panel. In their bathing suits. Many are young teenagers. Here one reggaeton artist from the lesser known D Cuba hits on a young model. nov. 8, 2015
Principe on Galiano
Reggaeton artist El Yonki prepares for his concert in Varadero, Cuba on Nov. 7, 2015. His spiky hair is synonymous with
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Lisette Poole—Redux
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How Cuba's Reggaeton Defies Internet Restrictions

Jul 08, 2016

The language can be explicit, the lyrics could be considered immoral, and the genre was once banned entirely by Raul Castro’s administration. So how do performers from the now-ubiquitous Cuban Reggaeton scene find celebrity, let alone spread their music in a country where internet connectivity relies on expensive, government-approved WiFi hotspots that are unreliable and inundated at best?

The El Paquete (The Packet), a hard drive that is delivered weekly for a nominal fee, is a significant player in the dissemination of media not accessible to legions of Cubans hungry for information. It is on this semi-clandestine device that proprietors of a phenomenon that has infiltrated Cuban airwaves spread music that has everyone from children to teens to grandparents dancing along.

Photographer Lisette Poole had been living in Cuba for about a year when she noticed Reggeaton music permeating Cuban culture. She amassed tracks from hard drives and approached artists, once in an airport—who despite their star power are much more accessible than their American cultural counterparts. “In Cuba in general I found that people are pretty accessible, even if they are really famous,” Poole tells TIME. “Everywhere they go they get mobbed by young kids who want their autograph and want their picture taken.”

Despite the limitations on connectivity, artists can create songs and videos that circulate “all over Cuba within a couple of days,” says Poole. She says the creation and distribution of Reggaeton content is in ‘constant flow’ where artists keep up with a demand for new music.

Reggaeton, which is a style that incorporates elements of hip-hop, electronic music and rap with influences of Jamaican dancehall, is at its core, dance music. “Cubans really love dancing,” says Poole, an American born to a Cuban mother. “And so for them it's more preferable to go out and listen to something that they can dance to.”

The photographer began visiting the country as a teenager and took up primary residence there in late 2014. She says she is motivated to look at the country objectively to “show Cuba the way that it really is, as I've seen it living there. I feel like showing Reggaeton is just part of that."

Lisette Poole is a freelance visual journalist. Follow her on Instagram @lisettepoole. Watch her documentary on Reggaeton, Reggaeton Revolución: Cuba in the Digital Era

Chelsea Matiash is TIME’s Deputy Multimedia Editor. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @ cmatiash.

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