Independent Riddim

Thanks again to Tom, our man in Panama, who recently pointed me to an additional, and interesting, instantiation of the Miss Independent riddim. As we heard previously, the Ne-Yo instrumental — most famously reappropriated in Vybz&Spice’s “Rampin Shop” — has become a veritable version in Panama, supporting no fewer than a dozen local voicings (and probably many more).

Tom shares with us the awesomely brash COMANDO TIBURON EL KID CON LA BANDA CENTENARIO DIANAS REMIX 2009 (and notes, helpfully, that “Diana’s is a musical style–Horns and rhythm section that gets used on occasion with the Panama Reggae Artists”). Chequéalo —

I did a little poking around and discovered that the meaning of las dianas goes a lot deeper than its occasional appearance in Panamanian reggae. This Miss Independent mash is therefore particularly interesting b/c of how strongly, supposedly, dianas represent Panamanian patriotism, see e.g. —

… Dianas con más de 100 años de rendirle tributo a la Patria. Se escuchan desde antes del nacimiento de la República (1891), cuando Panamá pertenecía a la Gran Colombia. Inclusive forman parte integral de las fiestas patrias.Parte del fervor de las fiestas patrias la implementan las famosas dianas, que tiene sus máximos exponentes con los miembros del Cuerpo de Bomberos de Panamá, aunque existen informes de que la Policía Nacional puede interpretarlas. … (link)

… Las dianas son una música originaria de Pamplona, España, donde se saluda al nuevo día con gaitas y tambores. Esta música llegó a Panamá en los inicios de la vida republicana con la variante de que sólo se tocaban con clarines y tambores. En 1950 el capitán Carlos Levi y luego el sargento AlfonsoDiez impulsan su popularidad, interpretándolas para saludar a la patria y a los mandatarios de la época. Tradición que ha perdurado hoy día. … (link)

Giving the Ne-Yo instrumental a dianas remix seems a pretty powerful gesture of nationalization. Try taking that away with a cease and desist order. Obviously, given my general sympathies toward samplers over samplees, I can’t help but grin (not least b/c I rly dig that beat) whenever I hear yet another version of what can only be described now as the Miss Independent riddim. Despite EMI’s best efforts, the cat is way out the bag. The track has, ironically and iconically, attained an inarguable degree of independence.

Further testament: that Sentimiento Reggaetonero CD I picked up in Mexico last week turns out to contain three tracks (out of 21 total) which feature a pista audibly indebted to “Miss Independent”: Arthur’s “Quedate Conmigo Esta Noche,” La Factoria & Original Dan’s “Olvidarte De Mi,” and Joseph’s “Dale Con Tu Amor.” At the same time — pace the riddim method — the riddim in these cases has been completely replayed and reconstructed, or relicked inna reggae parlance. I don’t actually think it even contains samples from the original, though it clearly closely mirrors — is ‘gestures to’ too subtle? — everything from the harmonic progression (bridge included), drum and synth rhythms, and timbres. The producer(s?) also add an unfortunate, if mercifully muted, marimba line —

Sin duda, the producer here — whoever it is (Pablito?) — has put their own stamp on this very popular, very public, and now very Panamanian instrumental. Interestingly, this latest remarkable versioning of Miss Independent also suggests a shift in significance for the riddim not simply within Panama, where it has moved squarely into the pop/balada sphere, but throughout the Latin American reggae/ton network, where Panamanian productions leave a long, large footprint. (Incidentally, Marisol LeBron has some fascinating things to say about the Puerto Rican reaction — macho, retro, and authenticist — to the significantly Panamanian-propelled romantiqueo turn for the genre.)

I’ll leave it here, for now, with a few choice bits about stealing and national pride from a recent interview with Panamanian reggae artist Eddie Lover:

Would you say Panamanian music is finally getting its due?

I wouldn’t say we’re “getting our due.” Although the roots of reggae lie in Panamá, los Boricuas took a huge step forward with the commercialization of reggaetón. We feel a certain amount of gratitude because they’ve opened doors and thanks to them, our music has been able to evolve.

Do you think artists from other countries steal their style from Panamá?

I think the influence of Panamá in what’s currently happening in reggaetón around the world is obvious. But I don’t want to take any credit away from anyone who decides to become a reggae or reggaetón artist.

The saga continues. Speaking of which, I’ll be talking about transnationalism, commerce, race, nation, narrative and reggaeton this very afternoon at Harvard; moreover, I’ll be joined by my co-editor, Deborah Pacini-Hernandez, who will be touching on similar issues with regard to cumbia. Deets here.

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