Reggaeton is a type of Spanish language dance music developed in Puerto Rico in the mid-1990s.
It has now become popular in other Latin American countries. Reggaeton - also spelled Reggaetón and hispanicised as Reguetón - blends dancehall and hip hop genres, with additional influences from electronic, bomba, plena, and other styles. This gives Reggaeton its distinct Latin touch.
Reggaeton songs cover topics ranging from the realities of street life to personal misunderstandings, gangs, love, and dancing.
It is very a very popular choice of music in parties and is usually danced
by members of the opposite sex grinding "doggie style". Reggaeton
can also be danced with the partners facing each other, or in large groups
of single dancers (usually females), where one of the group will then be asked
to dance and will then leave the group.
The first Reggae recordings in Latin America were made in Panama in the mid-1970s . A large number of Jamaican immigrants, brought in to build the Panama Canal, brought Reggae music with them and introduced it to the local population. Nando Boom is considered one of the first raggamuffin deejays from Panama. Without Panamanian ragga deejays like El General, reggaeton would never have caught on. Some even argue that reggaeton itself started in Panama, and that Puerto Rican artists merely added influences from house music and hip hop. Those, however, are defining elements of the reggaeton sound.
In 1985, rapper Vico C from Puerto Rico produced one of the first Spanish-language hip hop records in Puerto Rico. Thus the two main influences of the genre were in place, as well as the two main producing countries.
Reggae production took off seriously in Panama in the early nineties, about the same time Jamaican ragga imports were becoming popular in Puerto Rico. It was common practice to translate an original Jamaican reggae song (the same melody and rhythm, but with translated lyrics). Towards the middle of the decade, Puerto Ricans were producing their own "riddims" with clear influences from hip hop and other styles. These are considered the first proper reggaeton tracks, initially called "under", a short form of "Underground".
The reggaeton scene widened when Puerto Rican and Cuban styles perfused the Panamanian-style reggae. Today, the music flourishes throughout Latin America.
The genre's most notably unique feature is a driving drum-machine track derived from early Jamaican dancehall rhythms and heavily influenced by other forms of electronic dance music, such as techno, house, and genres such as the merengue hip hop (also called merenhouse) of groups such as Proyecto Uno and Zona 7.
The lyrics speak about the reality of life on the streets, misunderstandings, unfair situations, love, cheating, and passion. Although some reggaeton lyrics can be sexist and violent, the focus is on less controversial topics such as dancing. Latino youth - both male and female - have come to respect female artists such as Ivy Queen, who highlights female strength. This respect has paved the way for many other female Reggaeton artists.
Reggaeton's multi-ethnic flavor demonstrates the openness and positivity of Puerto Rican society. Reggaeton's creativity and break from American and Jamaican musical styles reflects Puerto Rico's multi-ethnic culture and its cultural proximity to other Latin American countries, the US, and Jamaica. Many important reggaeton musicians come from Panama, another country where Latin and Anglo influences join hands.
The genre has grown over the past few years and is starting to reach international recognition. Reggaeton's biggest international hit to date (mid-2005) is "Gasolina" by Daddy Yankee from Puerto Rico. The LunyTunes from the Dominican Republic produced the track. Many see LunyTunes as the reggaeton answer to The Neptunes, the innovating hip hop, pop, and R&B producers. They have created most of the major reggaeton hits to date, but DJ Blass and DJ Nelson are helping the genre to evolve.
Popular reggaeton artists include El Chombo, Tego Calderón, Daddy Yankee, Don Omar, Héctor y Tito, Zion y Lennox, Baby Rasta y Gringo, Trébol Clan, and last but certainly not least Ivy Queen. All have performed massive concerts in Puerto Rico and the USA, and are credited with bringing reggaeton into the commercial mainstream. Reggaeton is amassing large followings in Florida, New York, the Boston area, Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston, and other pockets of the USA where there is a sizeable Latino population or a large club scene.
Large music companies are taking notice. Sony Music has signed significant deals with artists such as Buddha's Family and Mickey Perfecto. Universal Music is also one of the major distributors of the genre. They have deals with most of the large reggaeton production companies in Puerto Rico.
Don Omar recently headlined a concert in South America alongside international dancehall artist Sean Paul. He also worked alongside the famous merengue band Limi-T 21 on two songs on their recent album, was featured on Los Rabanes' newest CD, participated with Ednita Nazario in her recent concert, and made a public deal with Emilio Estefan for production of some songs. He follows rapper Welmo as one of the first rappers to participate in the famous Banco Popular concerts that take place every year. Héctor y Tito themselves have recorded alongside Jose Feliciano, and more recently alongside Victor Manuelle and Domingo Quiñones, two popular salsa artists.
Other reggaeton artists have had high profile collaborations with artists outside the reggaeton genre, most notably: Tego Calderón with Fat Joe, Wyclef Jean, Cypress Hill, Toño Rosario, and 50 Cent. Rosa is also the official face of Hennessy in the Latin American market. Ivy Queen's next album ("Real") has songs alongside Sean Paul, Beenie Man, La India, and Fat Joe. Daddy Yankee has a song alongside Nas called "The Prophecy", and also has a track on the soundtrack of the movie One Tough Cop. Pitbull has also collaborated with many reggaeton artists as of late including Daddy Yankee on his smash hit "Gasolina."
Recent events have only slightly tarnished the image of reggaeton in Puerto Rico, most notable being Tego Calderón's public alimony dispute with his ex-wife, Nicky Jam's attempted murder case, and Don Omar's highly publicized arrest. Police allegedly caught him smoking marijuana and carrying a loaded gun with a mutilated serial number. He has denied any wrongdoing, and his case will go to court soon.
Reggaeton saw its first major hit in the USA with N.O.R.E.'s "Oye Mi Canto" (featuring Nina Sky) - not surprisingly a record by an American rapper. Tego Calderon also grew in popularity along with other artists such as Tempo, Ivy Queen, and Daddy Yankee. These artists quickly hit radio stations and MTV, as well as BET. Many believe that reggaeton is set to explode in popularity, and it can already be heard in clubs in places as far away as Canada and Europe.
• Daddy Yankee
• Don Chezina
• DJ Sy
• Don Omar
• La Factoría
• Mey Vidal
• Ghetto y Gastham
• Héctor y Tito
• Ivy Queen
• Khriz y Angel
• Latin Dreams
• Lito y Polaco
• Magic Juan
• Nicky Jam
• Papa A.P.
• Tego Calderón
• Trébol Clan
• Vico C
• Wisin y Yandel
• Papi Chulo
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