“I found out Cuba has one of the biggest Yoruba populations outside of Nigeria,”
he said in 2020, as he connected the dots between Afro-Cuban culture and the customs he grew up with. This shared cultural heritage is what made the partnership between Havana Club and Skepta more profound as it became an opportunity to proudly celebrate his own heritage and make it the creative touchstone that informed all aspects of the collaboration.
This is why a year later, as the world slowly begins to re-open, Havana Club and Skepta have joined forces again to release a second limited edition Havana Club 7 bottle for the Summer of 2021. It is also a chance to go back and build upon the creative and cultural values that defined the first campaign and allows Skepta to go deeper into his Nigerian heritage to inspire the new look-and-feel of the bottle. Paying respects to the Yoruba diaspora and celebrating the unlikely cultural connections between Cuba and Nigeria, the new design is a manifestation of Skepta’s roots, which in his words,
“…traces the migration of Yoruba culture from Africa to Cuba and back again.”
At first glance, the new design appears to be exactly this but a closer look reveals so much more. The label itself features a collection of subtle motifs, symbols and imagery that represents the scale of the Yoruba community from Skepta’s ancestral home in Ogun State, Nigeria to the shores of Cuba and back across the Atlantic. It is a visual journey that follows his own creative journey to exploring his own cultural identity and more.
In 2018, Skepta was made a chief in his parent’s hometown in Ogun State with his chieftaincy title as ‘Amuludun of Odo Aje’, which means the ‘Chief Entertainer of Odo Aje.’This in a way is where the visual journey begins – the textures that make up the background of the label consist of an image state’s landmark, Olumo Rock paired with native hawks made from foil circling the rock on-top of a traditional textile, Adire, which is a Yoruba chieftaincy pattern. From here, the symbols begin to reflect the global aspect of Yoruba culture. Cowrie shells that make up the perimeter of the label, are often used as ornaments for the Yoruba deity, Elegua who is still celebrated in both Cuba and Nigeria. Subtle nods to the musical ties across the Atlantic come in the form of güiro instruments and conga drums whose textures also adorn the label’s design.Finally, bringing the journey back to where it begins, an illustration of the coveted chieftain headdress proudly sits atop of Skepta’s own icon front-and-centre to tie the label together in an authentic way.
This cultural journey also comes to life in the new campaign film that supports the launch of the Havana Club Añejo 7 Años by Havana Club x Skepta rum for 2021. Building upon the trip Skepta took to Cuba in 2020, the new film follows him from London to Lagos and onwards to Ogun State to pay homage to the people and places to help shape his cultural identity. Besides bringing Yoruba culture to the world, the campaign film was also an opportunity for Skepta to champion creatives and artisans from the very culture this campaign celebrates.Last year saw the creation of the Metallic Fund, a grant and mentorship scheme established to support emerging Black creatives. This year, it was important to highlight the many creative hands involved in the campaign as they are a true representation of the community of Skepta and the values that underpin the collaboration.Besides bringing Yoruba culture to the world, it was important for Skepta to champion creatives and artisans from the very diaspora this campaign celebrates. Last year saw a grant and mentorship scheme established to empower young Black creative voices. This year, many of the creative hands that make the film are young Nigerian artists from Lagos to London and back again; a true representation of the cultural prowess of the Nigerian community today.
Another important aspect for the campaign to continue was the distribution of the bottle itself. The new Havana Club Añejo 7 Años by Havana Club x Skepta rum will be available online and offline – it will first be sold at the local corner shops and convenience stores across London and other major cities. Following the devastating impact on small, family-operated businesses, the partnership is making that commitment once again to support the local shops that are often at the heart of our communities and kept us going throughout the last year. If you are not in the United Kingdom, you won’t have to wait long as the bottles will be rolled out to the rest of Europe available online on the Havana Club site for all to experience.
Far far away, behind the word mountains, far from the countries Vokalia and Consonantia, there live the blind texts separated.