DJ EFN may be widely recognized as the co-host of REVOLT TV’s Drink Champspodcast, but the Cuban-American media personality takes his talents far beyond Miami. In 2012, DJ EFN — short for his government name Eric Fernando Narciandi — embarked on a trip to his home country of Cuba and decided to bring some friends along to film the whole experience.
The result was the Coming Home documentary, which aired on REVOLT TV in 2013. Nearly 10 years later, the show has taken DJ EFN to Peru, Haiti, Vietnam, Colombia and South Africa, giving him a priceless new perspective on life — and the culture. In each country, he’d get the opportunity to connect with the local Hip Hop community and quickly learned those with very little always seemed to have the biggest, most colorful personalities and deepest appreciation for all the elements. In turn, DJ EFN was reinvigorated by what he experienced.
“It just reminded me of why I fell in love with Hip Hop and what I felt Hip Hop was about, which was basically creating something out of nothing, a light at the end of a dark tunnel,” he tells HipHopDX by Zoom. “And a lot of places that we would go, the best Hip Hop scene was in these really poor neighborhoods, in places where they didn’t have a lot, but you couldn’t tell them that they didn’t have a lot.
“I had to focus on myself and I would come back really appreciative of what I had because oftentimes, here we’ll complain and we think we don’t have enough and this and that. And you’ll go to a place where they don’t have anything but to them, they have everything. They have everything they need and Hip Hop was that luxury for them, too, for them to be able to express themselves and be creative. It was just beautiful.”
For DJ EFN and his travel companions, Hip Hop also acted almost like their own GPS. Anywhere Hip Hop lived, they felt safe, unified by their shared love of the culture.
“It may seem corny, but they just inspired me,” he says. “I would come back and then Hip Hop was our guide. I’m not going to tell you that nothing [dangerous] will ever happen, but nothing has happened. We can go into the craziest hoods and Hip Hop was our guide and basically protected us.”
Unsurprisingly, Coming Home has been “life changing” for DJ EFN. As he explains, “It makes me completely appreciate all the things that maybe I have a hard time appreciating when I’m here. You just come back and you’re just like, ‘Man, I have air conditioning. I could go to a grocery store.’ What am I complaining about?'”
He continues, “To be quite honest, the Cuba trip came about when we were having that recession around 2008 and I suffered economically in that time period. Like a lot of people did, I lost a lot but at the time, I was self-centered thinking I’m the only one dealing with this. Come to find out, a lot of people were dealing with it. In that time period, that’s when I came up with the idea of doing this.
“And then I go to Cuba, I come back and realized I have a lot. I have opportunity. I have friends and family. We have an industry. And just to veer off a little bit, one of the common threads in every country and in their own words they’ve all said, ‘You guys don’t do Hip Hop anymore. You guys do business in America.’ Now, not to say that they wouldn’t want to make money and monetize their music, but they just feel we’ve lost our way in terms of the culture and what the culture’s supposed to represent.”
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And they’re right — American rap is often all about the almighty dollar these days, and adopting an attitude of victimhood only accentuates the problem.
“Someone might complain they’re in a small town in whatever state and be like, ‘I have no connections to the industry,'” he says. “There was a time when I felt like that in Miami, but then you go to a country like Cuba and they have no industry at all. So at least we have the opportunity that you can network, travel, get online. Some place didn’t have internet access, so it just really was eye opener and it did change my perspective a lot on life.”
The initial Cuba trip was a longtime in the making and it might not have happened had DJ EFN not been brave enough to go. As a first-generation American, his parents are Cuban immigrants who were adamant they didn’t spend another dime in that country.
“My parents are Cuban immigrants that came because of the revolution in Cuba, and if you know anything about that story, especially the South Florida Cubans, they’re very die hard about not going back to Cuba, not spending a dollar that’s going to go towards a communist regime,” he says. “It was very taboo to do anything having to do with the island, so I was raised that way with that state of mind.”
Once DJ EFN got older, he noticed things still weren’t changing in Cuba and feared he’d never have the chance to learn about his roots or see where his parents grew up. Ultimately, he took a deep breath and bought a plane ticket.
“I couldn’t tell my family, I couldn’t tell my grandma and I barely told my mom right before I left,” he admits. “I didn’t tell anybody because they’re pretty hardcore. They could even get violent at times with other people. So we went, connected with the Hip Hop scene. It was amazing. The trip was beautiful in terms of connecting with my roots.
“A lot of sad part in terms of the living conditions, but it really did reinvigorate me in terms of Hip Hop and just seeing people do it for just the purity of doing Hip Hop. Hip Hop inspired them to keep going and they inspired me, too.”
All six episodes of Coming Home are currently available on the REVOLT TV app. Watch the trailer for the Colombia episode below.
Monday @revolttv#ComingHomeColombia@RockTheBells@Crazyhoodfilm ??? pic.twitter.com/lAePzdR36y
— DJ EFN (@djEFN) May 27, 2022