Reggaeton Roundup

pa que tu lo sepa / pero lo sabía

If you haven’t heard it yet, I want to recommend that you check out Afropop’s recent show re: reggaeton, Reggaeton Roundup: New Moves in Latin Youth Music. Here’s their blurb —

When Daddy Yankee released his hit single “Gasolina” in 2005, nobody suspected what was about to happen. Reggaeton, that rollicking Caribbean dance-rap, traveled like an uncontained blaze around the world – crossing over from the Latin charts to pop and hip-hop from the U.S to Australia, thrilling and/or shocking those that came in its path. Reggaeton was the sound and swagger of a new generation of urban Latin Americans, and a whirl around Latin America in 2009 will show you that the genre is here to stay. We travel to Puerto Rico, the birthplace of reggaeton, and talk to players from the music’s history and take the pulse of today’s scene. We’ll follow that omnipresent bass-heavy beat that wove its way from coastal Panama in the 1980s to freestyle sessions in San Juan in the 90s, and talk to Puerto Ricans who are taking the music to new places today. Interviews with Omar Garcia, Calle 13, and more, plus side trips to Brazil and Chicago to get a taste of Baile Funk and Latin House.

I spoke with Marlon Bishop, the producer of the program, prior to his trip to PR, where he picked up some great quotes and infos (including, that Playeros #1-36, about which I’ve long been wondering, were apparently mixtapes of contemporary hip-hop and reggae; wasn’t until the infamous #37 that Playero featured local PR artists). Be sure to hit up the site’s extended reggaeton feature for additional background. I’m happy to report that, at least from my perspective, Marlon enriches as he affirms the (meta)narrative set forth in our book (and my capítulo in partic).

One note of detraction: I think the attempt to rope in wider sounds (freestyle, funk carioca, latin house) is a bit unnecessary, and leads to the program not only losing some coherence but also some perspective / authority. The dig at latin freestyle, as if it were unlistenable, smacks of elitism; and the idea that Miami bass found its only future home in Rio seems to overlook some crucial crunk continuities. But other than those questionable decisions, I think the program is really quite solid and enjoyable. Probably the best extant aural accompaniment to my chapter, sin duda. (Though this page will def get better over time.)

Props to Marlon & Afropop for keeping the story going — y pa’ apoyando reggaeton (o qualquier se llama).