Cuban Reggaeton Duo Gente De Zona Will Star in HBO Latino Special

Gente De Zona
Courtesy of Magnus Talent

Genta de Zona

The Latin Grammy winners cover their favorite songs and reminisce about growing up in Cuba.

Cuban duo Gente de Zona will reveal the soundtrack of their lives in Cuba in a new HBO Latino music special set to air on Oct. 26.

Gente de Zona: En Letra de Otro captures the group live in Havana, covering songs by well-known Latin artists and paying tribute to Cuban classics. The hits trigger Alexander Delgado and Randy Malcolm’s memories of their younger days in Cuba through the hits they heard on the radio or videos they saw on TV.

Gente de Zona was already a household name on the island, known for a distinctly Cuban, family-friendly style of reggaeton, when the group shot to the attention of international audiences after the release of 2014’s “Bailando” with Enrique Iglesias and Descemer Bueno. That explosive global success was followed by chart hits “La Gozadera” and “Traidora” with Marc Anthony.

In the En Letra de Otro special, Delgado and Malcolm frequently fall into fits of infectious laughter as they talk about the soundtracks of their lives. There are also emotional moments as they introduce songs that include Luis Miguel’s “Cuando Calienta el Sol” and Vicente Fernandez’s keystone “El Rey.”

Gente de Zona performs songs from Latin music’s pop canon with verve, speeding up the tempo and adding a Cuban timba sound with percussion and brass. The musicians deconstruct the songs, explaining how they infused them with their own style.

But this upbeat program is at its most engaging when the artists introduce the songs, including when Malcolm recalls the excitement in Havana when the movie La Bamba made its belated arrival there on VHS, and danced with his sister to the title song.

He later visits the school where he studied music from third to ninth grade -- “where my dreams began.” Delgado reminisces about his first performances at Havana’s rap festival in the Alamar projects, and how he received a cassette with Rolando Laserie singing “Las Cuarenta” from his father, who cried to the song when he drank. Gente de Zona performs a moving version of that classic song on the HBO special, and later turns out a pumping cover of '60s band Los Zafiros’ “Una Noche de Luna,” which he introduces with a description of his grandmother, a seductress who had two gold teeth.

Watch the trailer for Gente de Zona: En Letra de Oro below.