Erik Alejandro Rodriguez
Cimafunk Credit: Fernanda de la Torre

Erik Alejandro Rodriguez, who performs as Cimafunk, is a prominent figure in a rising generation of Cuban artists, and his fusions of Afro-Cuban musical traditions with funk, hip-hop, and African rhythms have a fresh and uplifting vibe. Rodriguez’s stage name comes from the Spanish word cimarrón, which translates to “wild” or “untamed” and in the 16th century came to refer to Black people who had escaped enslavement in the Caribbean—and everything he puts his hand to feels liberating. Next month Rodriguez will release El Alimento, his first album since his knockout 2017 debut, Terapia, and it builds on the promise of the varied and impressive singles he’s put out in the intervening years. In April, he and Alex Cuba released “Hablando x Hablar,” a stripped-down dance track propelled by handclaps and Cuba’s double bass (it’s also the opening track of Cuba’s album Mendó), and in June, Cimafunk worked with fellow Cubans Brenda Navarrete and Leoni Torres for the breezy “Aunque Sea un Ratico,” which melds pop, rap, and Caribbean rhythms. El Alimento furthers Cimafunk’s effervescent, eclectic celebration of his Afro-Cuban heritage and global Black music as well as his collaborative streak; the soulful ballad “Salvaje” brings together Afro-Cuban jazz great Chucho Valdes and veteran Stax keyboardist and arranger Lester Snell, and guest spots from the likes of Lupe Fiasco (“Rómpelo”) and CeeLo Green (“Le Era del Sazón”) suggest he’s aiming to broaden his crossover appeal with American audiences. That’s even more apparent on album opener “Funk Aspirin,” where he joins funk master George Clinton on a cool, spacey groove journey. Like the best funk bandleaders before him, Cimafunk is even more vital onstage than in the studio—the audience at this show is in for a treat.

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Cimafunk, Future Rootz, Fri 10/1, 8:30 PM, Thalia Hall, 1807 S. Allport, $22-$30, 17+