Many love it and many hate it, but the truth is that reggaeton has taken over the world. Here I tell you why
Reggaeton is taking over the world. Last week, "Mía" got released by the to Rican singer, Bad Bunny featuring Drake. This is the first time that the most listened artist on the streaming platform Spotify sings in Spanish. The Puerto Rican said on his Instagram that he demanded Drake only singing in Spanish and, as a result, the song promises to be reggaeton's new success.
Leer en español: ¡Dejen de criticar el reguetón! Hasta Beyoncé lo ama
The video of this song was recorded in September of this year in Miami. This city is known to be a bridge between Latinos and Americans. It is the city of migration and of what we now call Chicano. Miami connects various rhythms of Latin America and the Caribbean with the English-speaking music industry. This is why it makes sense that the video has been recorded in this city because the song is a reflection of how this connection is happening.
Less than a month ago, Ozuna, another big one from the new reggaeton wave, surprised us with "Taki Taki", in which he collaborated with the French Disc-Jockey DJ Snake, with the Anglo-Dominican rapper Cardi B and the American singer Selena Gomez. Thus, three artists of three different nationalities collaborate with the reggaeton in their own genre. In this song, Selena Gómez sings the chorus in Spanish.
But why entering reggaeton? Not all the merit of this phenomenon is for this genre. Rapper Will Smith has shown interest in the rhythms of the Caribbean for several years now. He has collaborated with his close friend, the American of Puerto Rican origin, Marc Anthony, and with the Colombians Bomba Estéreo on a theme that approaches the Latin American party. His last collaboration happened this year, again with Marc Anthony and with Bad Bunny. Thus, for some time there has been an interest of the English-speaking music industry for the rhythms sung in Spanish.
Background of reggaeton
As can be seen, this interest is born above all from rap. Will Smith, Drake and Cardi B are rappers. This makes sense since reggaeton takes a lot of rap's influence. Many reggaeton players, among them the most listened at this moment, J Balvin, were rappers before entering this new genre.
Many reggaeton terms, for example, are in English due to this influence. According to J Balvin for Complex magazine, reggaeton had two moments: first, in which Don Omar and Daddy Yankee invented the genre and paved the way for the second-time artists, Ozuna, and Bad Bunny. He considers himself as an artist in the middle of those two moments.
In this sense, the reggaeton pioneers had to deal with the harsh criticism of popular puritanism and rap lovers. Reggaeton has been criticized for its strong sexual content, the same for which salsa was once criticized and even tango.
And, on the other hand, was criticized also for being commercial, a mainstream version of rap. Thus, the first artists of the genre had to defend it from these criticisms and show that the music they did was serious. Even in the collaborations that were made with English-speaking artists since then, it can be seen and felt how the Caribbean artists had to adapt to the rhythms of hip-hop and not the other way around.
This is the case of "Gangsta Zone" (2005), a song in which Daddy Yankee collaborates with rapper Snoop Dogg. This song, of title in English, demonstrates the early interest that rap had in English for this Latin American genre that influenced while showing how at that time it was still evident how the first was stronger than the second.
The new generation
Thus, this first generation left the ground prepared for the new generation of reggaeton. While "Gasolina" by Daddy Yankee was an international success in Latin America, reggaeton has achieved world fame only in recent years, since it has not had to deal with criticism as strong as before and has been welcomed in the industry musical from other continents.
I think that an important figure in this sense is Cardi B. Born in the Bronx with Dominican descent and with a background in the world of striptease, this artist embodies the intercultural phenomenon of reggaeton. He released his first album this year, sung entirely in English, but several of her greatest hits are in Spanish.
In the 90s, Jennifer Lopez, also born in the Bronx with Caribbean ancestry, had to start her career singing in English, because if she wanted to achieve the international fame that was the way. Now, the situation is the opposite, if Cardi B wanted to reach the Latin American public she has to sing in Spanish.
Reggaeton, then, has become a platform for cultural exchange and rhythms. Reggaeton reminds the music industry of how much it needs the popular classes and the Latin American public. And thanks to reggaeton, we can again listen to samples of Pete Rodríguez's classic boogaloo in a rap song on a US radio station, as in the case of "I like it" by Cardi B, Bad Bunny, and J Balvin, who pays homage to a rhythm by Caribbean essence.
Thus, reggaeton is one of the Caribbean and Latin American genres by definition, it is not an imitation of the trends of the English-speaking industry. It was born in the Latin American Caribbean and now influences the great platforms of the music industry, such as pop. Reggaeton invites cultural exchange since it was born in the middle of one. And all the artists are already attending this invitation, or when we had heard Beyoncé sing in Spanish?
LatinAmerican Post | Juliana Rodríguez Pabón
Translated from: 'Necesitamos alabar el reguetón'
* The opinion of the editor does not represent the average