You’ve likely heard this one before: a society in crisis, threatened by violence, where the most creative players respond through art. This is certainly what is going on in Caracas. Recently, a new set of sounds, images and dance has emerged. It’s called Changa Tuki. The sound you can hear below. The images? The work of a ballsy school of illustrators who decorate colorful stages, posters and turntables. As for the dances, they are the work of the “tukis” (boys from the ‘hood) who have created their own style of dressing and shaking.
Changa Tuki’s origins can be traced back to the outskirts of Caracas in the Petare and Parroquia Sucre urban areas, where DJ Baba, Elberth, DJ Yirvin, DJ Ronald, Wapero and Jairomendezz – the artists that have created this culture – live. Today we can discover their world thanks to two fabulous initiatives: the compilation Changa Tuki Classics and the short film ¿Quién quiere tuki? (Who wants Tuki?). “It is a movement of unique to – and rejected by – Venezuelan society, and we felt it deserved to be vindicated and introduced to the world,” says Juan Acosta, producer of the documentary.
Along with other related genres of the continent, Changa Tuki seemingly arouses as much love as hatred. Many Venezuelans despise it, associating it with violence and poverty. Look a bit closer, though, and you’ll see tremendous talent at work: old PCs, hacked software and plastic microphones are all that some of these artists need to turn a neighborhood on for hours. And dance lessons, for instance, teach us that there are more imaginative and peaceful ways to make oneself visible. “It is characters like these that are necessary to solve the huge problems of Venezuelan society,” says Acosta.
The gospel is spreading thanks to the interest and drive of Venezuelan DJs who are well connected abroad, such as Pacheko, Pocz and MPeach. And many “honorary tukis” in Europe and the United States have joined them, such as Jess & Crabe – the French duo that curated the aforementioned compilation. Much like champeta and tribal guarachero – genres that also arose over the past few years – it’ll be interesting to see what mutations are to come.
For more about the Changa Tuki phenomenon, visit Red Bull Panamérika. This article was translated by Claudia Itzkowich. Felo Arias lives in Colombia and is a regular blogger on redbull.panamerika.fm. He also frequently writes scripts for Red Bull Panamérika shows.