June 22nd, 2009

Can We Talk About “Can We Talk About the Reggaeton Crash?”?

Gavin’s throwing darts again, and he hits a couple bullseyes — or offers some sharp prodding at any rate. The post is on par with his thoughtful and provocative ruminations on the ethics of musical tourism from almost exactly a year ago, and we can read it as something of a follow-up, a continuation not just of bloggy resonances but of nagging questions that must be asked.

The subject Gavin returns to is near and dear to me: (brave?) nu-whirled music / global ghettotech. He distills into a neat narrative arc a certain dynamic of the musical blogosphere (or at least one humble corner of it). As Gavin sees it, most of the nu-whirled/global-gtech genres follow a predictable pattern, the ol’ boom-and-bust of the hype machine —

The dominant narrative is well established: in the midst of urban poverty afflicting a community of color/nonWestern nationality, young people appropriate the techniques of hip hop/reggae/techno and make their own version of these established genres in their vernacular. A flurry of creativity creates an entire musical culture full of rapid stylistic changes and hybridity; meanwhile, the older generation and middle classes disdain the music as oversexual and immoral. Then the music hits the shores of the West, through immigrant diasporas, study-abroad programs, and canny journos looking for the next big thing. Gushing articles are written, cosmopolitan centers host parties centered around the sound, and the most recognizable sonic elements of these genres (dem bow, tamborazo) show up in remixes and DJ sets. A few artists are cherrypicked as leading the crop. A compilation album firms up the brand identity (what are genres but brands?). Tours and careers are launched. And then the genre fails to keep up with the rapid cultural turnover endemic to digital capitalism and interest fades. Luckily new genres from new locales spring up to fill the void.

A lot of this makes a lot of sense. And Gavin’s call for a close examination of the “political economy of global ghettotech” is imperative. Of course, the call for an attn to specific political economies seems in conflict with the impulse, on the other hand, to offer meta-narratives (i.e., “global ghettotech” itself) — but perhaps Gavin acknowledges this with his use of “dominant narrative,” a distancing gesture or sorts.

It’s funny, though, that Gavin picks reggaeton as his example — & funny for two reasons:

1) it’s misleading
2) it’s wrong

Wrt #1: As I initially commented on Gavin’s post, I think reggaeton is a misleading example for understanding the general dynamics of global ghettotech because it is, in some respects, exceptional. Although it may have been one of the first non-Anglo/non-mainstream genres to find uptake on the (world/whirled) music connoisseurosphere (getting lots of love here, & at Muddup, Ghettobassquake, Masala, etc.), it also departs from what I would consider more representative worldmusic2.0 genres (funk carioca, kuduro, nu-cumbia, juke) in significant ways. Perhaps most obviously, while we might be able to argue that nu-whirled bloggers played some role in the popularization of such genres as funk carioca and kuduro and (nu)cumbia — outside of their originary/primary sites of production, that is — I think we can hardly say the same for reggaeton.

Indeed, the economic arc of reggaeton’s story — which Gavin describes pretty accurately, actually — makes it seem like quite the outlier in all of this, since none of the other genres so popular among “global ghettotech” (for lack of a better term) DJs and bloggers, etc., have enjoyed even a modicum of reggaeton’s remarkable success within American (and global) commercial culture. One might be able to make an argument for cumbia — but not nu-cumbia — which has enjoyed a steady, and growing, level of popularity across Latin America for the better part of a century (though reggaeton’s incursions into English-language media still make it special in this regard).

Given the scale of the reggaeton phenomenon, it’s popularity among a relatively small number of DJs and music bloggers hardly seems remarkable. I do think it’s remarkable that reggaeton was among the first non-English genres to make inroads in the INTL urban DJ/enthusiast scene (for lack of better terms), and in this way it’s an important footnote in the story of global gobbledicunk, sin duda. Perhaps, and maybe this is what Gavin cares more about, the way in which reggaeton quickly fell out of favor for this set (which, yes, finds parallels in a broader “recession” for reggaeton) is endemic to the nu-whirled phenomenon. In that case, I would certainly agree. Nu-black is the new black.

Wrt #2: Despite all the chatter about it crashing or, more cutely, running out of gasolina, reggaeton is far from dead.

Among other indicators, as I tweeted the other day (pointing to this):


And I was happy to get some quick, on-the-ground affirmation from Brooklyn:


For my part, in the days since reading Gavin’s post I’ve counted several dembow-rattled trunks passing me on the street here in Cambridge.

And indeed, I was heartened to read this morning that Gavin himself has recanted somewhat. After attending Chicago’s Puerto Rican Pride festival this weekend (in my former hood, Humboldt Park!), he reports that, having heard a dosa buena de dembow, “[r]umors of reggaeton’s death are be greatly exaggerated.” That’s reassuring, especially since I think Gavin has long held a keen ear to the reggaetony (under)ground, as demonstrated in this relatively early piece on the genre.

Moreover, Gavin’s critical ears and eyes remain sharp. His description of the contemporary sound of reggaeton (or wot-ever se llama) hits the nail on the head —

The Dem Bow is definitely muted or completely absent in a lot of these tracks, instead there’s a kind of digital-dancehall feel, with lots of effervesynths and autotune. The way reggaeton (if you can call it that) is looking in 2009 is a hybrid of T-Pain R&B, Caribbean pop, and hints of trance.

But what more should we expect from a “genre” that has consistently engaged with contemporary hip-hop, pop, and dancehall for the last 15 years? To my ears, this is hardly a departure for what we call(ed?) reggaeton, but which has gone under many other names (and forms). If anything, the LunyTuny dembow orthodoxy of 2002-07 stands as a greater aesthetic aberration — a formal “distortion” produced by a timely collision with market “forces” — than the current crop of tracks coming out of PR (and the diaspora).

Even without an explicit dembow in the more recent productions (by the same people who produced hits during reggaeton’s heyday, to date), there’s still a recognizable aesthetic core there, I’d argue — one that emerges precisely out of the PR-based engagement with US and Caribbean and Latin American dance/pop/rap. You might miss it if it’s dembow orthodoxy you’re searching for (and I may be as guilty as any in pointing people to keep their ears on the snares). I could go on in some detail and elaborate, but, you know what, I already have. If you’re interested in this aesthetic history (and the role different genre names and forms have played), READ MY CHAPTER ALREADY.

To me, it’s more telling that reggaeton continues to generate such heated debate than that radio stations (and reggaeton stars) have shifted their strategies and broadened their palettes. That the genre still serves as such a (self-serving?) target speaks volumes.

For one, I’ll point any curious gawkers to the video I posted to YouTube in which Vico C demonstrates by beatbox the difference between hip-hop and reggaeton. Like a lot of other reggaeton-related postings around the net, it has become a vehicle for anti-reggaeton vitriol. How could something so dead generate such heat?

For two, consider a couple germane texts that my co-editor, Raquel Rivera, emailed to me recently: 1) the comments on her blog generated by her appearance on WNYC; and 2) an article in El Nuevo Dia in which salsa legend Willie Colon argues that reggaeton has peaked (the original is now behind a pay wall). My response was this —

i think reggaeton’s gonna be around (and popular) for some time to come. we’ll see what it sounds like, though. and whether people still call “it” reggaeton (they did, after all, used to call “it” any number of names).

colon may be right that the “euphoria” has passed, but that doesn’t mean the genre’s days are numbered. plus, this is clearly a bit of self-promotion for his own music, talking bout how people have returned to salsa. they never really turned away.

on another note, isn’t saying “música urbana” basically like saying “música negra”? it is in english — a pretty specious euphemism really. might as well say “race records.” so maybe we’re back where we started, but in a worse place?

The exchange made me think that if I were writing my chapter now, it might have to be titled “Música Negra to Música Urbana” — a sly story of commodification, accommodation, and shape-shifting.

I also spoke recently to a reporter asking essentially the same questions (is reggaeton dead? has it crashed? its moment passed?), and I told her I think it’s just as possible that 2004-06 represents the first of several “reggaeton” waves (que onda!), as opposed to but a flash in the pan. And I’m not simply talking in terms of the periodic Latin “booms” (and busts) that have punctuated US popular culture for at least the last century. It seems totally plausible to me that “Gasolina” and the other reggaetony blips on the “mainstream” radar were just the tip of the iceberg for Afro-Latin-American media finding a permanent place in American (in the broadest sense) mass culture. I guess we’ll have to wait and see whether history & demographics & (American/global) popular culture bear this out.

I think one could contend, at any rate, that reggaeton is as popular as it’s ever been, billboard hits notwithstanding: reggaeton stars still fill stadiums across the Americas, sell millions of CDs, and have secured a spot on urban Spanish-language radio and in the “Latin” wing of the Music Industry; moreover, there are more “bedroom” producers at work producing the music than ever before, and in more places. That reggaeton (whatever it gets called) continues to thrive at both the corporate and grassroots levels is not to be underplayed, whether or not the “euphoria” has passed (for whom?).

In a sense, this question of whether reggaeton is “dead” amounts to the PR-centric version of an odd question posed recently in the Jamaica Observer: “Is Dancehall Still Dancehall?” On the one hand, as I noted somewhat cheekily, with a nod to Norm Stolzoff, dancehall is now, was always, and ever shall be dancehall. On the other, it’s also reggae. But then again, it’s not. People distinguish roots from dancehall all the time, sometimes with the confusingly metonymic use of “reggae” as a stand-in for “roots reggae”; ask these sample people, however, and reggae is reggae is reggae (even if it’s ska). Or yet another angle: a good friend of mine, a Jamaican who grew up in Cambridge, wouldn’t consider Bounty Killer to be dancehall since, for him, Josey Wales chatting over some rub-a-dub reggae was dancehall (indeed, the music of Josey, et al., was the first style of Jamaican pop to be so strongly identified with the music’s social space — the dancehall — that it took on its name); rather, Bounty & Beenie, et al., represented something else, perhaps better described as rap (at least from my fren’s perspective).

As usual, I’m not saying there’s a there there. It can all get pretty tautological really. (Word to Wiley.) Some labels stick, some don’t. Some become brands, some don’t.

It’s still pretty astounding to me that something as clunky and freighted as “global ghettotech” might prove a useful brand, but DJs/bloggers like UMB are waving the banner, apparently with some modest success. Guillaume has some interesting thoughts about all of this, which I hope he’ll share soon. Lest we get carried away, I think we should keep in mind, as /Rupture noted, that

The exposure and interest is overrated. ‘Global ghettotech’ club nights are a minority, it is just a few individuals in a few cities doing it.

As I put these thoughts together, and commented on Gavin’s next post, it occurred to me that I might sound at times as if my own meta-narrative about reggaeton is akin to some sort of Afro-Latino version of TEH NUUM. And I hardly intend anything like that. The last thing I want to do is “overdetermine” a lot of fresh music by imposing some sort of totalizing theory on it. And I sure don’t want to produce for myself (and others) a myopic lens for interpreting new music by saddling it with the weight of tradition (e.g., bassline as hardcore?), much as that can seem inevitable. Kinda like missing the trees for the forest, innit.

On the other hand, sometimes these metanarratives can serve as profoundly meaningful frames for making sense of music (and cultural politics) as it engages our senses. For better or worse, that’s what “global ghettotech” has done / attempts to do — to contain within its ambivalent name(brand?) a set of questions, challenges, critiques. Not to beat a dead horse (or an undead one!), but one reason I employed the term “ghettotech” — problematic or confusing as that “appropriation” may be — is that it perhaps acknowledges the “uncomfortably romantic” dimension in so much of this engagement and activity. Then again, my hope — if I may risk such technoptimism — is that the (increasingly) p2p nature of all this musical exchange might promise some rapprochement between the celebraters and celebratees, the metropolitan DJs/promoters/bloggers/critics and their bredren on the peripheries (or right next door).

This is something I’ve been struggling with — in part c/o some provocative talks and interviews given in the last 6 months by Kode9 (occasionally with Kodwo Eshun). Honored as I am to find “global ghettotech” appearing alongside the ‘nuum and their own possible (afro)futurisms, I am definitely wary of creating a critical apparatus that somehow absorbs the future shock of new music. Grappling with this issue — with the critical effects of web2.0 discourse on worldmusic2.0 — seems very necessary, indeed central to my next/current project.

But I’d better stop here, as I’ve still got a lot to think through in this regard, and I’ve already written too much already. (Congrats if you made it this far!)

Thanks for the continued conversation, all –

51 Comments Add your own

  • 1. DJ UMB  |  June 22nd, 2009 at 2:37 pm

    WILL HAVE POPER READ OF THIS IN ABOUT A WEEK’S TIME :-)

    GLOBAL GHETTOTECH: I’M WITH RUPTURE ON THIS¬

  • 2. wayneandwax  |  June 22nd, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    Take your time!

    You’re either with /Rupture or against him, so good choice ;)

  • 3. THT  |  June 22nd, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    a lot of really good and compelling ideas in here, but i just want to address the global ghettotech terminology question briefly. firstly, i’m not a music scholar nor a real dj (i make and sometimes post playlists, but i don’t usually mix them or play them out beyond friend’s parties on my ipod.) however, as a writer and a music lover and someone who is exposed to many different people and cultures and sounds where i live and work on a daily basis, i would never use the term ‘global ghettotech’ in an article, on my blog, or even in conversation to describe this stuff. i just think it has negative/appropriating/condescending connotations and i would not employ it. i understand the history (and irony) of the term and why you put it out there and i feel it’s certainly important to discuss, i just hesitate to further its usage for those who are not thinking about it as critically. global dance, world bangers, tropical, nu-whirled, planetary bass, trancehall, non-anglo-electro-hippity-hop, ay-rab money makin’ (or not) music, 11372, mortimer, really anything else…

    also, as anyone walking down the street in new york and many a other cities can attest to, reggaeton surely is not dead. although, i would suggest that maybe the (mainstream/corporate/”timely collision with market “forces””) bubble burst around the time ubo went down and all these rock la familla, source latino, xxl en espanol, etc… ventures failed to take off in the us of a.

  • 4. Nina  |  June 22nd, 2009 at 4:19 pm

    I’ve been listening to reggaeton for a while and discussing it for ages(relatively speaking) as well. The earliest post I can find on RMAL that I wrote was January 19th 2004, but IIRC I had discovered you and Raquel a few years earlier while I was still in college, so I’ve been discussing it online since about 2000. (I remember arguing with a friend as I sat writing code in 2000, he said “reggae or spanish, it cant be both)

    What surprises me is how FEW people discuss it. I definitely would not attribute it’s success to bloggers and writers. There set where those who discuss and blog intersects the set of those who dance and love reggaeton is tiny.

    Reggaeton isn’t dead, though even I have declared it dead once. After the Paulina Rubia’s and everyone else did their thing to cash in on the scene and the mainstream audience got sick of it, rather than dying an early death, it seems to have revitalized. I think maybe a little pruning was in order, cut off some of the suckers (I wanted to say “shoots”, but I HAD to say “suckers”) and focus the energy on the music that the core audience wants to hear.

    And from my perspective, that of a club going, music seeking, perreando person, the appetite for reggaeton has never lessened. I do think that as reggaeton branched out into salsa, pop and merengue territory that a lot of weak stuff was put out and interest in that was not strong. However, the collaborations of Tony Tun Tun, Olga Tanon and other merengueros with reggaeton artists seems to have led to a resurgence in interest in PR style merengue bomba, which seems to be making a very welcome comeback.

    As far as new music-

    Franco el Gorila has some perreo puro, J King and Maximan are taking it back as well. Yaviah is still in the game and as sick as ever. Yomo’s cd is HOT. Nengo Flow is doing well. Daddy Yankee, Tego and Wisin y Yandel are not the only 3 artists out there. I can name about 100 artists that I’ve never seen in ANY mainstream media from either the US or Caribbean. Its underground but not dead and buried.

  • 5. wayneandwax  |  June 22nd, 2009 at 4:38 pm

    Thanks for your perspective as always, Nina. Appreciate your additions/revisions to the narrative. A little hindsight goes a long way, especially with perreo music ;)

    & THT, totally hear you on “global ghettotech.” Believe me, I didn’t think it would go beyond that one long post. Had it not proved so sticky, I wouldn’t have any use for it. And I don’t go about describing my own music (say, as a DJ) in that way. Perhaps you’re right, though, and I should stop using it. I dunno. Does it obscure more than it describes?

    I’m still waiting for some term to arise more “organically” out of the scene. But the right term needs not only descriptiveness but stickiness. It has to ring true. Of all the names you propose, I like a few, but none seem quite right. As much as “tropical” strikes a cord, it’s also a freighted term: it remains the industry category/catch-all for Spanish-language music of the Caribbean and the Caribbean coast basically (though I think it’s a bit more pernicious — ie, kinda racist — than that geographical description implies). So, um…

  • 6. rachel  |  June 22nd, 2009 at 5:00 pm

    good post. stop having babies so you can devote more time to your blog. I know, I give great advice.
    WRT Reggaeton as an outlier, its ties are too large to ever disappear b/c of nu-whirled fads. that euphoria is gone. But just as it was drivin by larger forces its also fallen b/c of larger forces. I’m not sure “‘its going to stay around” changes “reggaeton has peaked” & it IS def. past some kind of peak.
    Music genres dont die, as you said, they morph into the continuum/get reincarnated/go to heaven/whatever but Reggaeton is less relevent. You still hear it, but less so. I think akons presence here : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DvYZmmXgJUQ has much more to do with Aventure than wisin y yandel. You said billboard hits not withstanding, but i think that would include latin charts & besides – charts/singles *are* important, in terms of driving, inspiring, leading things. Its fair to point out that just b/c the spotlight shifted, doesnt mean somethings not going on. It may still be going on but i’m not convinced reggaeton is as popular as it’s ever been. I think its waning, wayne.

  • 7. wayneandwax  |  June 22nd, 2009 at 6:53 pm

    good points, rachel. i don’t mean to too contrarian in my insistence that reggaeton WILL NEVER DIE. i admit that we’re past a peak of sorts, but that’s a fairly careful way of saying it (thanks, willie) — much different than pronouncing it dead. & i do think it’s just as possible that we’ll see another wave of reggaeton (hurban?) incursions into the mainstream, albeit perhaps looking and sounding different (maybe more like aventura?). i think you’re right about akon’s collabo, but i wouldn’t downplay the draw of W&Y, who are, perhaps next to yankee, perhaps the artists who’ve cashed in best on reggaeton’s time in the limelight. that’s why i wrote “heyday, to date” — there could yet be a better one. and it’s a little hard to estimate the impact that reggaeton’s success has had on urban bachata (and vice versa?).

    i don’t mean to downplay the importance of chart success. if we’re gonna attend to pol-ec, we should definitely get a grasp on how the money flows through something like the reggaeton-industrial complex and how that differs from, say, the case for funk or juke or kuduro. i do think, however, that sometimes people overlook far too much cultural practice with their focus on the top40 (whether pop or “Latin”/”tropical”).

    finally, thanks for the encouragement. i’ve been waning (wayning?) a lot myself these days for obvious reasons. it’s great that so many of you are still right on top of the blog, tho, waiting for the right challenge to comment! color me grateful. will try to do better (i just try not blogging about that b/c it’s such a pathetic subgenre of blogpost).

  • 8. DJ UMB  |  June 22nd, 2009 at 7:02 pm

    Sorry was meant to read as follows:

    “WILL HAVE A PROPER READ”..

    GLOBAL GHETTOTECH…I LOVE THIS TERM….

    I don’t think it’s unethical, neo-colonialist or racist….and I am from immigrant roots..Kashmiri but born and brought up in England, albeit, that does not make me any less racist than anybody else.

    It’s just a “loose term” and far better than global dance, world bangers, tropical, nu-whirled or god forbid…world music or Global Club Fusion which sound old-fashioned, poor and basically crap.

    I see Global Ghettotech empowering the places where the music comes from cause it puts it side by side with ELECTRO/HOUSE/FIDGET/ETC ETC….

    It makes it sound as relevant, trendy and as EQUAL to those predominantly WESTERN genres!

    The point you seem to miss here is that although certain musics originate from a certain place, it belongs to the world.

    That might be an idealistic and utopian position to occupy but music is all of that…idealistic and utopian!

    Global Ghettotech EMPOWERS 3rd world music!

    I really am on holiday now….will read in depth upon my return from Maroc! :-)

  • 9. DJ UMB  |  June 22nd, 2009 at 7:07 pm

    THT

    “negative/appropriating/condescending connotations”

    PLEASE EXPLAIN HOW YOU ARRIVE AT THIS WITH GLOBAL GHETTOTECH…

    There is no such thing as ORIGINAL music, it is all appropriated from somewhere else, if you dig hard enough!

  • 10. wayneandwax  |  June 22nd, 2009 at 7:29 pm

    yes, UMB, thanks for bringing it in defense of GLOBAL GHETTOTECH! it’s definitely valuable to have such a strong advocate in the mix.

    for the most part, i agree with you about appropriation/originality/authenticity and the like. if anything, to me what is most problematic about the term is the emphasis on ghetto (and the romanticization thereof). i understand that we can have different interpretations of what a “ghetto” is or that we might see ourselves in a kind of sypathetic alignment with the world underclass(es), but i think that either of those possibilities might makes some people — for good reason — fairly uncomfortable.

    at any rate, we may as well have it out here, so i invite other commenters to make more explicit what they find so problematic about the term.

  • 11. Generation Bass » B&hellip  |  June 23rd, 2009 at 3:01 am

    […] WAYNE (wayneandwax.com) MARSHALL’S  response to a post initially found on another great blog, UNFASHIONABLY LATE, […]

  • 12. DJ UMB  |  June 23rd, 2009 at 3:43 am

    Thanks Wayne, sorry for putting this to you in bits but I’m in the process of packing and kind of like setting off to the promise land once again..Morocco :-)

    GHETTO’S are a reality, they are a fact and they exist.

    We cannot brush them under the carpet or pretend that they do not exist.

    So to me Ghetto’s exist everywhere and involve both rich (gilded ghetto) and poor and not just poor.

    Here are a few definitions of the word Ghetto mainly employed in the social-economic sphere:

    1. A usually poor section of a city inhabited primarily by people of the same race, religion, or social background, often because of discrimination.
    2. An often walled quarter in a European city to which Jews were restricted beginning in the Middle Ages.
    3. Something that resembles the restriction or isolation of a city ghetto: “trapped in ethnic or pink-collar managerial job ghettoes”.

    4.ghetto – any segregated mode of living or working that results from bias or stereotyping; “the relative security of the gay ghetto”; “no escape from the ghetto of the typing pool”
    life – a characteristic state or mode of living; “social life”; “city life”; “real life”

    in a musical context:

    GHETTO BLASTER

    A boombox, also known as ghetto blaster, jambox, or radio-cassette, is a name given to portable stereo systems capable of playing radio stations and recorded music (usually cassettes and/or, since the early 1990s, CDs), at relatively high volume. Designed for portability, most boomboxes can be powered by batteries, as well as by line current.

    The synonym ghetto blaster is a term that can be considered insulting or complimentary depending on the context. The word ghetto blaster originated in the United States, reflecting the popularity of boom boxes for entertainment in urban African American neighborhoods. “Ghetto blaster” rather than “boombox” became the common term in the United Kingdom (especially among the black community in London), Canada and Australia for large portable stereos.

    For me Global Ghettotech is NOT a celebration of the fact that ghetto’s exist and relate predominantly to the disenfranchised black/asian/hispanic/gay/pink collar etc communities in various countries….and NEITHER is it Romanticizing that fact….

    RATHER

    It is an EMPOWERMENT of the CREATIVITY that originates from the GHETTO and places it on an EQUAL musical platform to other predominantly WESTERN and GHETTO-LESS GENRES like HOUSE/TECH/PROG/ELECTRO/NU-DISCO ETC ETC…

    To me, GLOBAL GHETTOTECH is saying:

    I AM, OR DREW INSPIRATION, FROM THE GHETTO, BUT I AM EQUAL TO EVERYBODY ELSE OUT THERE….I AM TRENDY, HIP, RELEVANT, FASHIONABLE AND EQUAL!….YES I MAY HAVE COME FROM A SEGREGATED OR IMPOVERISHED BACKGROUND BUT I AM HERE FOR EVERYBODY AND I AM EQUAL TO EVERYBODY ELSE AND I SHOULD BE LOOKED UPON AND TREATED ON A LEVEL PLATFORM TO EVERYTHING ELSE!…DON’T LOOK DOWN ON ME, IN FACT, YOU CAN’T LOOK DOWN ON ME!

  • 13. THT  |  June 23rd, 2009 at 9:03 am

    have meetings all day so i have to be brief here…

    wayne: i was not insinuating that you, or others like dj umb should not use the term. i’m simply saying that i would not just toss it out there without any background/history/context/analysis in my professional/personal capacity. my other suggestions were lacking originality and not meant to be taken seriously. also, i’m with you on tropical as well, although i used it a year or so ago for an early mix i did, i thought, at the time, it made sense based on styles and their geographic proximity related to the equator and that it made for a good summer mix when i had no air conditioning in my apartment. shit was certainly tropical in there.

    dj umb: perhaps my issue with the term has to do, like wayne expressed, with the negative connotations of the term ghetto. a lot of times when people use it in the u.s. it is a convenient tool to cloak and comment on the poorness or blackness, or taking it even further, the dirtiness of something. ‘ghettofabulous,’ ‘he/she is acting ghetto,’ etc. in reality those who, many times, use these words/terms are passing judgements on class and race- i.e. he/she is acting black/latino/poor/uncivilized/all-of-the-above. i’m originally from detroit and have always thought it was condescending when the term ‘detroit ghettotech’ is used. people from detroit don’t say that (although people from west bloomfield, mi did/do), it’s ‘bass,’ or ‘booty,’ or ‘club.’ or ‘stip club’ music. by tossing in ‘global’ before that and applying it to non-western music i don’t think that makes it any more empowering. again, don’t take my first comment the wrong way, i’m not saying you or others should not use it. i just don’t/wont.

  • 14. Gavin  |  June 23rd, 2009 at 12:11 pm

    Hey, Wayne, you have a great point that reggaeton was an ill-chosen example in a lot of ways. Maybe a large-scale version of more under-the-radar global dance genres, but that would have to be teased out a lil more. Of course genres never really die (do they ever become zombies?), and dem bow will always pump from some corner of our world. But it seems like that will be an exclusively PR corner; a lot of the hype was reggaeton as pan-latinidad. This seemed warranted at the time: I first heard it at a Mexican barbeque and it was all the DJ played; it continued booming all over Chicago that summer. Now I almost never hear it in Mexican neighborhoods. Do you or any other commenters have any indications of how reggaeton is received in non-PR latino communities?

  • 15. Marisol LeBron  |  June 23rd, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    Hey Wayne,

    Great post as always! Your post actually made me start thinking about Calle 13, “musica urbana,” and the death of reggaeton. Thanks for the food for thought! Check it when you get a chance:

    http://postpomonuyorican.blogspot.com/2009/06/reggaetons-white-hope-and-reggaeton.html

  • 16. w&w  |  June 23rd, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    To be honest, Gavin, I haven’t seen any evidence recently, but last time I checked reggaeton was bubbling in pretty much every country in South America and the Latin Caribbean. (If I get a chance, I’ll poke around, but I welcome any comments enlightening us.)

    I’m def curious to know how the genre continues to resonate (if indeed it does) among non-PRs living in the States (and whether they live on the right, left, or in the middle), but if I were to hazard a guess, I’d say that reggaeton probably remains the most popular genre among Latino youth (at least of Caribbean origin), here in the NE. That’s not to say it’s not in the mix with bachata, salsa, merengue, and hip-hop, but that’s sorta always been the case, I think. Radio stations switching to an all-reggaeton format still seems like a crazy idea; even Anglo/African-American-targeted radio formats rarely focus so narrowly (e.g., hip-hop, r&b, and today’s hottest music). “Hurban” appears, after all, to be the safe bet, and I’m pretty sure pan-Latinidad still sells. The “big” Latin music station here (on AM, notably) belts out “¡ORGULLO LATINO!” between every song.

    One thing that is interesting about a certain failure of the genre to “crossover” (and let’s remember that the term originated in reference to race-segmented markets) is how little English-language reggaeton actually got produced. In that sense, it also seems different from previous “Latin booms,” which were quickly adopted and adapted for the (Anglo) mainstream. (I’ll have to digitize some of these Fred Astaire dance records sometime. Samba! Rumba! Cha Cha Cha!) Is there something less translatable about reggaeton (aesthetically as well as linguistically)? Or is there less need/desire to translate?

    Then again, Marisol, you raise the interesting point that reggaeton can be “whitened” without going Anglo. At least whitened in Puerto Rico anyway. I still suspect Residente is as likely to be racialized as any other light-skinned Boricua in the US mediascape. (Is J. Lo white? Ricky Martin? Has no one written that article yet?) That video you embedded of Residente ranting at the Nokia Theater is pretty striking: never mind PRican or pan-Latino nationalism, that’s some straight up reggaeton nationalism he’s selling there (even if he now calls it música urbana). Self-serving? You bet. Nevertheless, we might ask, would we be more sympathetic if voiced by a different spokesman? Do the sentiments only ring cynically? What about the crowd response?

  • 17. wayneandwax  |  June 23rd, 2009 at 2:28 pm

    Just getting a chance to catch up on Marisol’s blog (I’m so behind my RSS right now), and I was glad to see there yet another challenge to the premature pronouncement of the end of reggaeton:

    The accounts of reggaeton’s death have been greatly exaggerated as people eagerly await the demise of the genre. They want to do away with the porquería that reggaeton makes visible, as Frances Negrón-Muntaner argues in her piece “Poetry of Filth.” The thing is, the porquería and mierda and bellaqueo and brutalidad and …well… queerness in the form of cosas raras, that reggaeton regularly serves up to is audiences is, in my very humble estimation, one of the most valuable critiques of the failures and unevenness of the Puerto Rican nationalist project in contemporary Puerto Rican political history. Although reggaeton is increasingly being folded into Puerto Rican nationalist and Latino/a pan-nationalist efforts, spaces of resistance and ambivalence are still available within and through reggaeton.

    The paragraph included here is part of a broader statement of intent and critique on Marisol’s part, bringing sexuality front and center in the discussions of the genre and its nationalisms. Definitely go and read the whole thing.

  • 18. vamanos  |  June 23rd, 2009 at 4:40 pm

    This is all interesting reading. From a UK (ok London) point of view where reggaeton has never had such a big presence as the Americas or Spain, but recently i’ve been trying to follow it’s level of popularity. And it seems to be getting bigger on the whole. Ministry of Sound now host a massive regular night called La Bomba which, although caters for many latin genres, is centred around reggaeton. They’ve even had big names recently such as DJ Nelson, Luny Tunes etc.. i think a lot of this is to do with the sizeable latin population in that area. But anyway if a genre has enough popularity to warrant a night at a club that size then it must have some swagger.

    I think we need to address the fact of the lack of hits in reggaeton. I maybe wrong but I just haven’t heard many bangers since the golden days of 2004/5 and this to me is why the genre suffering a bit. Saying that, I’m still dropping the old stuff and still get requests for it so I reckon the market is still there but it just hasn’t delivered that well recently. Yes we are hearing more r’n’b/trancey/pop productions as the artists move into different areas away from dem bow roots but they haven’t been all that either.

    I don’t think we can judge reggaeton’s popularity due to it’s presence on blogs as many are looking for the next,next, next thing, happily disposing of the previous. We should be looking at it’s evolution and weight in it’s native homelands of Latin America, the caribbean and the US.

  • 19. wayneandwax  |  June 24th, 2009 at 9:38 am

    I might have to leave it up to Nina and Marisol to weigh in on the best reggaeton bangers (a category distinct from hits?) since 2006. I think there are quite a few really — just haven’t cracked the Anglo charts so much.

    Just thinking about the last couple years (say, post-“Reggaeton Latino”), you’ve got Hector’s “Sola,” W&Y’s “Pam Pam,” Nelson’s “Chica Virtual,” Ñejo & Arcangel’s “Algo Musical,” Arcangel’s “Pa’Que la Pases Bien” and probably plenty of other “minor” hits that I’m forgetting. I wasn’t really feeling DY’s “Impacto,” but it did crack the Billboard Hot 100 (#56), fwiw. And, for my money, there were definitely some bangers on albums released by Tego and Calle 13.

    And another thing/artist worth mentioning is Pitbull. I know he’s not reggaeton proper by any stretch (though he’s done his share of collabos and shows up regularly on reggaeton mixtapes), but in terms of getting Spanish lyrics on English radio, no one’s touching him right now. Maybe it’s his bilingualism that makes it work; maybe it’s the diversity of beats he gets on (crunk, techno, merengue, soca, dancehall — MIAMI CLUB BABY!); but it’s definitely worth noting that, in some sense, he’s definitely kept the fuego burning.

  • 20. Nina  |  June 24th, 2009 at 9:51 am

    Hi there.

    How do non-PR latinos in the US feel about reggaeton?
    I find that most Caribbeans and South Americans under 35 or so enjoy it but other than Dominicans, most are not fanatical about it. I find a lot of Mexicans to be indifferent to it.

    (I am fortunate enough to live where I have a constant influx of Latin Americans and American Latins to dance with. So in addition to the local community, I meet hundreds from all over the US and Latin America. I poll them all on age, country of origin because Im a nosy girl, 10 years and thousands of guys later, I have a decent sample for my little studies.)

    Re English language reggaeton- I haven’t posted most of my research in the area, but there are differences in the phonology of Spanish and English that make English simply not fit well with the music. Not enough of certain sorts of consonant sounds in the words to give it that bombastic feel. IMO in the US rap is expected to have a very smooth almost crooning, words just slip through the mouth feel, a lot more airflow. In Spanish there is a lot more lip, tongue teeth and palate action going on, more stops.

    I mean, listen to (and I KNOW this is an old song) Rakim on “Paid in Full” and pay attention to the stops, breath control etc. Then listen to Tego on Metele Sazon (I was listening to that last night), then listen to Maelo on “El Negro Bembon”. Even the names of the songs let you know how the rest of the song will sound, IMO.

    The staccato sound of Caribbean Spanish is almost, imo, the exact opposite of what is prized in rap.

    Ask again in 15 years, maybe by then I will have managed to quit my job and spent some REAL time studying.

    As far as the lack of big hits,how much can be attributed to lack of demand and how much to file sharing? I don’t know, but it is possible that the acquisition of music has moved back underground. I bought 2 cds once in 2005. I have thousands of reggaeton songs. *shrug*

  • 21. Nina  |  June 24th, 2009 at 9:55 am

    I’ll sneak my iPod on and make a list of the songs I have that move the clubgoers, and another of ones that I find particularly thrilling. I doubt any were hits.

  • 22. Arroz Con Beans | Whitene&hellip  |  June 24th, 2009 at 10:02 am

    […] http://wayneandwax.com/?p=2015 […]

  • 23. Marlon Bishop  |  June 24th, 2009 at 6:19 pm

    Really great post – helping me understand this worldmusic2.0 world I so often dwell in.

    This is Marlon from Afropop, anyway I was just in Puerto Rico and I’m deep in my reggaeton escatcies, so my 2 cents. Some disconected observations.

    I recently asked Residente from Calle 13 about all the fuss about “el muerte de reggaeton” and he told me that he thought the beat was dying, but that the concept would never die. He meant that disparigingly.

    Dembow is no doubt on the decrease and “musica urbana is definately the new name of “el genero.” Yet in PR, it doesn’t seem that the more alternative/political hip-hop scene that split ways with reggaeton in the late 90s fits into “musica urbana”. The difference between reggaeton and hiphop was always consituted as a difference in drum programming, but also a very ideological position. The changing of the name is about opening up the “reggaeton concept” to a some rythmic heterdoxy in the production, Club beats, R&B, autotune, and all the trappings of today’s arguably watered-down hiphop music, but without budging from reggaeton’s modern-day cultural millieu (read: cristal, cars).

    Everyone in PR was talking about regaeton dying, but you still hear another story flying out of every passing vehicle. The declarations seem premature. Besides, an entire generation has no other kind of CDs to bump, for now.

    I’ve been reading a lot of the comments on the blogs that have talked about Willie’s reggaeton-bash. (http://www.wikiton.net/willie-colon-alborota-plano-reggaetonero-con-declaraciones) There are some people who are very very angry, and have very little reverence for the salsa-king. There is a lot of pride to go around about the economic/cultural reeach of el genero.

    Also, in NYC, “La Kalle” 105.9, which once switched its format to 100% reggaeton alldayeveryday, barely plays it anymore. That has to be some kind of economic/cultural indicator.

    I just got back from a year traveling in Latin America researching AfroLatino music, and I can attest that reggaeton is, to different degrees, is almost everywhere the sound of a generation, with a nacent copy-cat industry everywhere. Just look at http://www.flowperuano.com/. And its still a little bit of a novelty – it got to the Southern continent well after it hit the U.S. And, I find, the reggaeton romantica songs are much more popular than lo agresivo. But many people in the Andes or the Southern Cone see it as import from the Carribean. Another generation of Puerto Rican music to dance to. The clubs, almost without fail, play 2 perreo tracks in rotation with salsas, merengues, bachatas, and us hiphop.

    Calle 13, however, has so much enthusaism around them by the cool-kids class from Montevideo to Lima, and their different kind of appeal to pan-latinidad. And I learned the hard way that they HATE to be associated with reggaeton, claiming to have only 4 dembow tracks ever, and they have nothing to do with it etc… But is Calle 13 an aberation or a new direction?

    I’m skeptical about the exact equivalence of “musica urbana” and the “musica negra” of over 10 years ago. The racial implications are obviously there, but we’re talking about a much transformed Puerto Rico, it seems to me, and casario culture and nuyorican-ness is so much more mainstream. Something complex afoot.

    Anyway, millions of interesting things to try to understand.

  • 24. Arroz Con Beans | Why Reg&hellip  |  June 25th, 2009 at 8:23 pm

    […] http://wayneandwax.com/?p=2015 One thing that is interesting about a certain failure of the genre to “crossover” (and let’s remember that the term originated in reference to race-segmented markets) is how little English-language reggaeton actually got produced. In that sense, it also seems different from previous “Latin booms,” which were quickly adopted and adapted for the (Anglo) mainstream. (I’ll have to digitize some of these Fred Astaire dance records sometime. Samba! Rumba! Cha Cha Cha!) Is there something less translatable about reggaeton (aesthetically as well as linguistically)? Or is there less need/desire to translate? […]

  • 25. Birdseed  |  June 26th, 2009 at 3:20 pm

    AGAIN just back from Budapest and off to Finland tomorrow, and I have loads of thoughts on this and especially Gavin’s OP, but for now I just wanna say how much I LOVE the Reggaeton year 2009 which in my mind is the strongest in years. 2007-2008 was all re-traditionalist “Bacha-ton” and “Mambo-ton” but I really love the tinkery, post-electro machine-sex world that is reggaeton right now. Nearly every track on Don Omar’s latest album is of an exceptional caliber, and everyone from Kartier to Khris has put out ridiculously good material.

  • 26. crashroots — Blog &&hellip  |  June 27th, 2009 at 7:36 am

    […] post on the global dynamics of the new nu-whirled/global-gtech genres and the future of ragaton. Read more… VN:F [1.4.7_740]please wait…Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast) […]

  • 27. Raquel Z  |  June 30th, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    And while we ponder the “reggaeton crash,” today on Reuters: “Reggaeton fever shakes up Cuba’s culture.”
    http://www.reuters.com/article/musicNews/idUSTRE55S6EK20090629?sp=true

  • 28. DJ UMB  |  July 1st, 2009 at 5:17 am

    THT….

    I hear all that you say and I was not in anyway offended by what you said. As I have said everybody has their own opinion.

    But it’s also like the debate about the word “Nigga” that black people turned around from a highly offensive term and neutralized it’s offensiveness amongst blacks albeit, a white person saying the word would face much criticism.

    Ghetto’s exist, there is no denying that and so what in fact you are trying to do is to pretend that they don’t exist or accept that the people in them are not worthy to talk about.

    As I have said when I use the term I am not trying to romanticisize the term Ghetto. The insertion of Global before Ghetto or Tech afterwards is not the definitive reason that empowers the word. The music is the definitive empowering part of it but the term can easily stand alongside other accepted dance sub-genres like House, Fidget, Electro and Hip-Hop.

    It’s a term that young people would understand and relate to as they did with Hip-Hop and it is much better than something like Tropical Bass…WTF does that mean?

    Ghetto’s are here and will forever be and so to deny that creativity stems from them is like trying to whitewash their very existance and accept that they are neither important or worthy to speak about.

    It’s like the word “Urban”, what is the difference between that and the word “Ghetto”?…Why would that word be any more acceptable than the word Ghetto.

    Yes people would automatically think of the stereotypes associated with the word but are we trying to say and agree that all things from the Ghetto “are” uncivilized and not worthy of anybody’s attention……LIKE THE “BLUES”…where did that word come from and how did it gain wider acceptance? Essentially it’s the same kind of thing, it’s a translation of human melancholy borne out of economic, political and emotional suffereing mainly in poor neighbourhoods!

    I for one will continue to use the word as I think it needs empowering and this message will grow the more it is used and the more people who use it will empower it more….ultimately the message will be that whoever is born into the Ghetto’s or comes from them is as equal, hip and relevant as everybody else!

    Destroying negative connations associated with certain words or things has start somewhere………

  • 29. wayneandwax.com » R&hellip  |  July 2nd, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    […] old but current things (Akon’s “Wanna Be Starting Something”?) and running some reggaeton crash […]

  • 30. DJ UMB  |  July 2nd, 2009 at 6:58 pm

    BTW, sorry about my grammar and spelling mistakes, I really should use that darn spellcheck!

  • 31. I’m Not Ready to Gi&hellip  |  July 4th, 2009 at 8:56 pm

    […] I guess this is my quite unfortunate semi-response to the following folks: W&W, Unfashionably Late, Marisol LeBrón, Raquel Rivera, and Racialicious. Clearly these posts dwell on […]

  • 32. wayneandwax  |  July 6th, 2009 at 7:04 am

    One interesting sidenote to last week’s Reuters article on reggaeton proclaiming its “independence” and apolitical (or is it neo-liberal?) nature: the news agency published a second article, last Friday, about a reggaeton song composed for Fidel Castro.

  • 33. THT  |  July 9th, 2009 at 2:45 pm

    dj umb:

    “Ghetto’s exist, there is no denying that and so what in fact you are trying to do is to pretend that they don’t exist or accept that the people in them are not worthy to talk about.”

    come on now, that’s just silly and makes no sense. it’s hard to take the rest of your comment seriously when you say things like that. not sure where in my previous comments you came to the conclusion that i’m some sort of ‘ghetto-denier.’ i grew up around and see massive inequality everyday. i’ve worked as a reporter in detroit and harlem, lived in beirut, and pass by the largest public housing development in the us twice a day, so don’t come at me like that. every time i see your generation bass posts pop up in my rss i check the music (which is often quite good) but cringe at your write-ups. putting GHETTO IN ALL CAPS on every single post (white dudes from palermo, BA? really? that’s ghetto to you?) and description just seems, um, sort of exploitative and cheesy to me, not empowering. but whatever, we can agree to disagree on terminology and i’ll continue to check out your blog and i’m sure you will continue to constantly remind your readers how “TRENDY, HIP, RELEVANT, FASHIONABLE, and GHETTO” the music you put up is. that’s fine.

    moving on…

    wayne:

    i was in ocean city, md on the 4th of july at this terrible mega-club thing on the beach and i stumbled into one huge room around 2 am that had close to 1000 white people dancing, vigorously, to an all reggaeton set for almost an hour. dembows aplenty. if that’s not the limitious test to gauge the genre’s current mortality, i’m not sure what is.

  • 34. djumb  |  July 12th, 2009 at 7:51 am

    THT

    Man, there’s no need for you to get personal about our blog….:-) I have not got personal about the fact that I have NO IDEA who the hell you are!

    But, getting personal and abusive, is what happens when you are unable to argue your casel..and to me it demonstrates exactly where you are coming from….NOWHERE!

    Plus, you really miss the essence of my whole point about GHETTOTECH….haa.haa there u go, did it again!

    At Generation Bass, we do not pretend to be serious journalists or music critics…we are just passionate music lovers, dj’s and producers…..in fact you’d be quite surprised what we both do in our day-jobs!”!!!

    We write our POSTS as we feel the music…..it’s down to earth, user-friendly and comprehensible to the masses…..that our forte!….

    Is their a CRIME in that, does that mean ORDINARY music lovers ought not to have blogs cause they are not good at writing or describing music in a correct music journalistic manner, whatever that may be!

    We’re not aiming to be psuedo-music intellectuals theorising about things cause we leave that for the experts and the aptly qualified people. like WAYNE who have spent years of their lives dedictated to this kind of STUDY!…….We could NEVER pretend to be something we are not!

    So I for one will continue to write GHETTO like that, if it pleases me, and our readers like it…and we do have a lot of people pluggin’ into our blog including quite influential types…so we must be doing something RIGHT my friend.

    We don’t give a shit about being POLITICALLY CORRECT or any of that BULLSHIT! but by the same token we try to ensure that we are not blatantly offending anybody, sex, race, religion, nationality!!

    We have just been waiting for this kind of back-lash from a music ELITIST like you, in fact I have NO IDEA who you are!!!! But you know who I am….. so I think that says a lot.

    Sorry Wayne for arguing like this on your post, which is essentially more about REGGAETON, than it is about (here we go again) GHETTOTECH!!!!

    But this guy,THT, whoever he is, has just really riled me, not for having a different point of view, which I RESPECT, BUT for getting PERSONAL about our BLOG, which I find cowardly, spiteful, immature and childish.

    Long live GLOBAL GHETTOTECH ( even if white middle class kids in BA are producing some of it)!

  • 35. Generation Bass » B&hellip  |  July 12th, 2009 at 10:01 am

    […] You know, unbeknown to many of you, a DEBATE has been raging on about the term “GLOBAL GHETTOTECH” on an article written by the instigator of the term, Wayne Marshall of the brilliant WAYNE&WAX blog. […]

  • 36. djumb  |  July 12th, 2009 at 10:14 am

    FAO THT

    THE MUSIC ELITIST BACKLASH AGAINST GENERATION BASS BEGINS!

    http://generationbass.com/

  • 37. Schmorgasborg « DJ &hellip  |  July 14th, 2009 at 7:32 am

    […] experience here is really putting conversations about the global music culture in perspective for me (for anyone who’s been in a Wayne and Wax e-brawl before, Birdseed was […]

  • 38. wayneandwax  |  July 14th, 2009 at 9:07 am

    Sorry to have stepped away from this conversation for so long. I’ve been traveling a fair amount and have hardly had time to weigh in. It seems things have gotten a little contentious here, which is fine, expected even, but I definitely don’t want this space to turn too vitriolic. Contentious debates can be great, quite fruitful, but they also require good faith participation, and I sense that slipping away.

    With regard to the tone/turn of the debate, I just want to note that THT has been fairly polite, if critical, in his comments here. Sure, his critique of Generation Bass above (comment #33) is pretty barbed and maybe a little snarky toward the end, but he raises some valid objections, or at least seems to try to voice his discomfort in precise ways. I don’t think that he was getting particularly “personal” there. On the other hand, to start throwing around terms like “elitist” (never mind “neo-fascist”!?) is to turn this into an ad-hominem argument rather than continuing to debate the substance of the matter here. About that…

    DJUMB, I want to say again that I appreciate you (et al.) waving the banner as hard as you do. Like THT, I’m able to appreciate the role that you guys at Generation Bass play as real enthusiasts for so much music that could really use the support and the spotlight. Like THT, however, I’m also wary — as I’ve said over and over again — of the role that “ghetto” plays in all the sharing at your blog and others. (I first expressed this way back when wrt Ghetto Bassquake.) Neither THT nor I would deny that ghettos exist (claiming so is, I think, a bit of bad faith), but we appear to agree that sensationalist/romantic uses of “ghetto” often strike us as condescending and naive. (Please don’t take those last two words as insults directed at you in particular. I’m not saying that Generation Bass is always in that mode, and I concede right away that I myself can sometimes be guilty of both condescension and naivité, much as I strive to avoid that.)

    Even so, to be critical of certain blogging/promotional discourse is not the same thing as attempting to police it (as the use of “neo-fascist” implies). I don’t think that THT or I would ever purport to tell you HOW to go about doing what you do, but, whether or not we collide in comment sections, we do constitute a community of sorts in this corner of the blogosphere, and communities have their way of enacting censure (which is not the same as censorship). My initial and ongoing attempts to describe and make sense of what I have sometimes called “global ghettotech” is precisely that: an open series of letters to my internet brethren (and sistren! where u @?) who are UNABASHED BASS BOOSTERS.

    This kind of discussion about the language we use is obviously one that is important to all of us. As you wrote, DJUMB, in the response post that you have now apparently thought better of publishing —

    This is also one of the MAJOR reasons why Generation Bass exists, to get away from that neo-colonialist, elitist and alienating method of writing about music, in particular, Global Music, that is adopted by some well known Magazines.

    And we’re all, ironically, on the same page about that. Indeed, I think the focus on all these “global ghettotech” genres — united in their urban sites of production and reception, audible uses of technology, and preference for percussion and bass (i.e., their dance-centrism) — is, without writing a word, a clear rebuke to an older notion of “world music” that wanted to keep so-called traditional cultures bottled up for elite/bourgeois consumption. When we start using words to describe it or hype it, though, we get entangled in all kinds of messes based on different ideas about language and politics. In this sense, as Birdseed recently observed, “global ghettotech” is less about the music in question than about the mode of discourse about it.

    There’s no denying the myriad contemporary connections between ghetto, class, race, and bass. No one’s saying that ghetto is an unimportant dimension of this music. Plenty of the DJs and bloggers and producers involved in this nu-world, whatever we want to call it, are profoundly inspired by ghetto (fabulous) creativity. And there’s plenty to celebrate there.

    Each of us finds their own way to strike what feels like a proper balance between simply sharing sounds as such and attempting to frame them for each other (a useful bit of translation, especially in a realm where it is explicitly foreign music with which we are generally concerned). That latter project, of providing context for the sounds we excitedly share, is really the thing we’re discussing here, and I think that THT’s somewhat stinging critique of Generation Bass is an expression of the search for an ethics of highly mediated musical “consumption”/”tourism” which Gavin’s posts (as noted above) keep pointing to.

    All that said, we all gotta just keep doing what we’re doing. But it doesn’t hurt — or at least, it shouldn’t — to air out our differences from time to time, to push each other to consider other perspectives. Let’s just keep it on the gentle side, eh guys?

  • 39. djumb  |  July 19th, 2009 at 5:04 pm

    Cool Wayne, wise words as ever and advice noted :-)

    My mind is open man, always has been and hopefully will remain that way.

    I look forward to your critique!

  • 40. wayneandwax  |  July 20th, 2009 at 12:33 pm

    To return for a moment to the reggaetony side of this discussion, I recommend reading (and listening, whenever it becomes available) this Afropop feature on reggaeton, which considers the genre’s death/crash/bust in its conclusion:
    http://www.afropop.org/multi/feature/ID/895#

  • 41. wayneandwax.com » F&hellip  |  July 20th, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    […] the old neo-cumbia, or whateverrrr. As such — that is, as a “nu-world” genre (and arguably the first) that traveled through the strange filters of the musiconnoisseurosphere to arrive in metropolitan […]

  • 42. Links… | memeticsh&hellip  |  July 28th, 2009 at 10:40 am

    […] Can we talk about the reggaeton crash? @ wayne&wax […]

  • 43. Linda  |  August 10th, 2009 at 7:42 pm

    also, not sure if Lani has turned you on to this… but see Cuba and its timba-ton:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fzulcDEPKJs&feature=related

  • 44. DJPERSO  |  August 20th, 2009 at 10:42 am

    Hey Mr Wayne, your blog is one of the blogs im constantly following, i have to say i agree with 95% of the points you make, the only part i dare to disagree is when you mentioned “luny tunes dembow orthodoxy of 2002-2007″ , even there i agree with something, there was a luny tunes style of orthodoxy (even though i dont think luny tunes was the only person responsible for it, i think they just complemented and put together what dj joe, blass, and eliel have been doing) but not in only in dembow, i think their style of mixing synth and horns with classical music is what specifically should be accredited to them. however they did make dembow a lot simpler and/or limited, so a lot of the focus went to the strings and synths and less on the kick samples and snare samples.
    However at present a lot of producers are starting and have started to play more and more with the dembow like the old days, when it was underground
    check out these songs if you will

    http://www.zshare.net/audio/6427516902d6cfd0/ by voltio and plan b

    http://www.mediafire.com/download.php?zxiyymelzty >another by voltio

    http://www.mediafire.com/?5onyzmqwmnm >> Gadiel , WyY records

    http://www.mediafire.com/?yjzzdmmmeiy >>> TEMPO, Guelo Star, Divino and JyM

    http://www.mediafire.com/?mijmjznj3mf >> que tengo que hacer> Daddy Yankee

    http://www.mediafire.com/?mnbmmintgj4 >> pegaito a la pared> tego

    What im trying to say is that, i think dembow is essential to reggaeton. The luny tunes style of production, however magical and sensational in its early years is not essential to reggaeton, reggaeton can definately move on from that. The way it moved on from many styles of production in the past.

  • 45. DJPERSO  |  August 20th, 2009 at 12:08 pm

    Hi again, i forgot to add that i would really appreciate your take on what i said.
    And i also feel like a minor correction was needed from my part, about what i meant when i said “however they did make dembow a lot simpler and/or limited, so a lot of the focus went to the strings and synths and less on the kick samples and snare samples”
    I didnt mean the dembow was less pronounced in luny tunes style of productions. the dembow was definately hard hitting and pronounced, i meant that there was very little change in variety and configuration within the dembow samples and little to none experimentation in the patterns. Many luny tunes (and many other producers from 02-07) reggaeton songs had a very generic (not nessicarily in a bad way) and predictable dembow. Match that up with a luny tunes style of strings, horns and violin, and you would have a mas flow era reggaeton.

  • 46. wayneandwax  |  August 20th, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    hey PERSO–

    thx much for the comments and the links and the kind words. actually, i don’t think we disagree at all. when i referred to the “luny tunes dembow orthodoxy” i just wanted to underscore — as you affirmed in your comments — that the popularity&influence of mas flow beats (and you’re right to call it the “mas flow era” rather than the luny tunes era, since so many “apprentice” producers were building pistas for luny at the time) meant that the entire genre had a pretty narrow range of stylistic variety, for a few years: as you note, it was all about midtempo synth romps with a codified/simplified/pronounced dembow. i definitely agree, though, that reggaeton (producers) can move on from that and can continue to flirt with the dembow, and other popular patterns, as they have for 15 years now.

  • 47. DJPERSO  |  August 20th, 2009 at 9:08 pm

    Thank you Mr Wayne, well im glad that we agree, and thank you for your response im very grateful , and i also have a copy of your book reggaeton along with Ms. Rivera.
    I have some comments on that book also which ill write you in the meantime.

  • 48. Mataklap  |  August 23rd, 2009 at 1:33 pm

    Just a thing that’s been going through my mind lately, w/ regard to the term ‘global ghettotech’.

    While I didn’t give the phrase much thought at first, regarding it a a rather innocent catch-all term, when I started thinking about it more, I felt it should actually make me feel the same way as when I hear someone use the term ‘world music’.

    While the connotations are somehow less elitist, I still think it’s rather arrogant to put everything that’s not produced in the western world (ie. North America, Europe etc.. You catch my drift) on one big heap. There is no such thing as a ‘world music’-genre. There is Moroccan Gnawa, Cuban Son, Indonesian Gamelan, Sami Yoiking etc…

    So, in the same vein, there is no ‘global ghettotech’. There is, however, Kuduro, Nueva Cumbia, Funk Carioca, etc..

    But then again, maybe the latter have more in common with each other (affinity with electronics in production, social status, cultural regard) than the former.

    And, of course, there’s the unspoken agreement that anyone who actually uses a term like ‘global ghettotech’ to indicate any non-western dance music, with complete disregard for whatever distinction and background is involved with the genre in question, should be smacked upside the head.

    (Probably, among ‘world music’ afficionados, smacking one upside the head is ‘not done’.)

    So, no, I don’t really think it’s necessary to have some umbrella-term that covers it all. Just do that little bit of extra effort and properly name that thing.

    (But then again, I’ve heard reports of friends who spent time in Africa and were amazed at the way they devour any Western music in some places. No matter what genre, from Lil’ Wayne to Celine Dion, as long as it’s in the charts in Europe or the US, they will eat it up, with gusto. And you’ll hear noone nitpicking about such trivial matters as whether that particular song is hip-hop or a rock-ballad. Just ‘American Music’ would do, if they even went that far.)

    It probably depends on how much value you place in proper categorization (which, certainly, has profound importance in various ways) vs. shutting up already and just dance to the damn tune.

  • 49. Mataklap  |  August 23rd, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    One more thing:
    Side-tracking a bit (which, incidentally, might actually be getting back on track in this case): Yeah, there is the ‘ghetto’-thing. I kind of get DJUMB’s way of using the term ‘ghetto’, slightly naive as it might be, and I’m also in favour of not making a term too ‘heavy’, too connected with ‘serious’ connotations. But somewhere it also kind of rubs me the wrong way, in terms of romantization, exotism, etc.. (seeing as how I myself am not born, raised or living in any place that might be called that way)

    Actually, reading back my (luckily still pending) comment and the rest of the discussion (which I should have done before I started writing instead of a week ago and then letting these thoughts slowly knock around in my head) I realize that there’s nothing really new said by me here, and even digressing a bit from the actual point. (the whole idea of meta-genres and categorization is mildly abstract, and mildly pointless)

    But then again, it’s your blog, Wayne, so do with the text as you see fit. :)

  • 50. wayneandwax  |  August 31st, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    thx for chiming in, mataklap. always appreciate gathering additional perspectives here.

    as a DJ and producer, i quite agree that all these genres need NOT be understood thru / subsumed under some general rubric like “global ghettotech” / “nu world music” / “transnational bass” and what have you. but as an ethnomusicologist and blogger, i’m interested in observing and analyzing the ways that such genres actually circulate and get represented “in the discourse” / “on the internets” — and in that light, I find that a lot of people do seem to group/mix a lot of these genres together. & i still think it’s useful/illuminating to wonder how such an approach departs from earlier notions of “world music.”

  • 51. wayneandwax.com » H&hellip  |  January 12th, 2010 at 4:20 pm

    […] items relating to reggaeton’s urbanity, if you will. This is gonna get a little meta, but my post about Gavin’s post resulted in a post by Marisol which got cross-posted to Racialicious, […]

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Wayne&Wax

I'm a techno-musicologist, internet annotator, imagined community organizer.

I left my <3 in the digital global, but I reside in Cambridge, MA, where I'm from.

I represent like that.

wayne at wayneandwax dot com

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