May 28th, 2008

Outsourced Analysis #8939, Si Permítame: Reggaeton Currents

Tito writes:

What up Wayne,

Hope all is well. Felicidades on 3-2, you don’t look a day over 25.

So the other day I was listening to Tony Dize’s new album “La Melodia de la Calle” & one track struck me. The song “Permitame” feat. Yandel, which also happens to be the 1st single off the album is a completely different sound for Tony Dize & I would argue much of Reggaeton. The track is infused with Timbaland/Timberlake type sounds & I could envision someone like Justin Timberlake singing over this track & it being a hit.

I was wondering if you could lend your musical ear to the track & let me know what you think. I haven’t been on my Reggaeton game as much as I used to, my MA thesis is has been taking up most of my time, so maybe this track is something not out of the ordinary. Anyway, I find it musically intriguing & wonder if this American Pop style of Reggaeton (is it even Reggaeton anymore?) could possibly be a new wave of the genre? The track is getting a lot of play in PR & is making its way to the radio here in the states, I heard it the other day on “La Kalle” here in Chicago.

and before I could answer, he follows with


In the same vein, check out Daddy Yankee’s new track “Pose”

Here’s what I wrote in response:

Hey Tito,

These are some interesting examples. Thanks for bringing them to my attention. They definitely depart from recent orthodoxy in reggaeton (though perhaps suggest an emerging new orthodoxy). For one, they’re faster than a lot of reggaeton ca. 03-07; instead of around 100bpm, they’re closer to 120/130, so more like house/techno/club/dance tempo, which is — as usual — pretty consistent with contemporary hip-hop/r&b/pop. Also significantly, — perhaps in part b/c of the tempo — I don’t hear any “Dem Bow” samples; there’s still that ol’ boom-ch-boom-chick (which some might hear as a general “dembow” rhythm), but even then it’s less pronounced/consistent. And the type of synths in use on both tracks, that buzzy/tactile, mid-range wheeze — which perhaps is what suggests the work of Timbaland/lake to your ears — is pretty au courant, not just in hip-hop but all kinds of genres. I think that’s, to some extent, a matter of shared software, but it’s also an aesthetic thing: a return to “ravey” synths that may have been reinitiated, at least in the mainstream, by Lil Jon’s refitting of rave presets for crunk tracks a few years ago.

To my ears, once again, reggaeton shows itself very in touch with contemporary global/American pop trends, while maintaining a distinctive sonic profile all its own.


Ok, I really need to get that “raveyton” post in order at this point, to help put all this into context.

!Hasta pronto!


  • 1. nina  |  May 28th, 2008 at 3:08 pm

    When I listen to Chica Virtual and Algo Musical I’m not quite sure what to think. But I like it!

    You know who has been on my mind lately? DJ Laz, a lot of the new stuff reminds me of him. I believe he has a new hit, actually.

    My stepkids are 19-25 and fans of reggaeton (and all that crunktivity too), but spent time with their dad and me listening to Booty Bass Classics and stuff on road trips. When I realize the ages of some of these hitmakers it kinda makes me feel ancient. As if Im not CURRENT, but a mom whose cassette collection the kids raid to liven up their reggaeton with some “oldies”.

    Has it been that long, Wayne??

    Get to that raveyton post, ok?!

  • 2. nina  |  May 28th, 2008 at 3:27 pm

    Is DJ Laz and 1995ish Florida along the lines of what u mean, btw? Thats what I think of, but not sure if thats what you’re thinking of. Any representative artists/songs?

    Am I trying to make you come up with that raveyton post ahead of schedule? Sorry. :)

  • 3. Tony Dize feat. Yandel &#&hellip  |  May 28th, 2008 at 4:42 pm

    […] pero se crió en Puerto Rico.  La canción la acabo de descubrir en el siempre excelente blog Wayne&Wax, en el que se discute acerca de la posible influencia de Timbaland en esta canción. Personalmente […]

  • 4. wayneandwax  |  May 28th, 2008 at 5:19 pm

    thanks for the continued encouragement to get that post out, nina (y tu también, iván). pronto pronto, pa’ verdad.

    iván raises an interesting point that calls for some clarification. is this kind of synth sound the same thing that martin clark has dubbed “wonky” — an aesthetic preference/preset currently sweeping the world of electronic/digital music, especially as produced via popular software programs (FL, Reason, Logic) and softsynths? to be honest, i’m not quite sure, but i do think it’s significant that we have the same sort of buzzy synth sounds cutting — across genre — through all the crappy, bassless speakers we tend to use in our everyday, non-club listening. coincidental? i think not. zeitgeisty? maybe more than that, maybe less.

    frankly, i’d like to see a more precise — in terms of frequencies/oscillators/etc — description of what makes wonky wonky. does anything in particular distinguish it from the thick, buzzy, now “vintage” “analog” sounds of, say, the Juno or Jupiter — the kind of thing that produced Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams,” which I’m often reminded of when I hear these newfangled synth tracks? martin calls them “off-kilter, unstable” — and i kind of get what he’s saying on an intuitive level, but i’d like to know in greater detail what’s producing these sounds and why producers are favoring them right now.

    & actually, nina, as i’ll explain, i’m thinking more of the late 90s / early 00s stuff by DJ Blass, DJ Joe, even DJ Playero, all of whom started to employ software like FruityLoops (and its preset techno synths and effects) and turning to sample sources from club/dance music rather than, say, dancehall or hip-hop. though, i think you’re right that we could look to someone like Laz and other people doing “latin”-bass (post-freestyle?) stuff in the early to mid 90s as another moment of such club cross-currents. i recently got into DJ Laz b/c of his early attempts to fuse merengue with Miami bass. fun stuff!

    but while the topic’s fresh, allow me to paste in some cont’d convo btn me & tito:

    Tito to me


    Thanks for getting back to me on this so quickly. … I definitely think Reggaeton has managed to establish its own musical niche & distinct sound (i.e. I know when I hear Reggaeton) but it’s interesting for me to hear the ways in which the staple of Reggaeton, the dembow, is being altered/played with musically. As more & more Reggaeton artists turn to American producers, i’m curious to see how the music is affected. Do you have any examples off the top of your head where Lil Jon incorporates rave synths on one of his tracks? I’m assuming he is using them similarly.

    Thanks again,


    wayne to Tito

    I’d be curious to know who produced these tracks, actually. Do you know? I recall that when Scott Storch tried his hand at reggaeton for Yankee (“Impacto”) I was pretty underwhelmed. It seemed too by-the-numbers, but even more clueless at that — missing out on the importance of particular drum sounds/timbres. Then again, maybe I’m proven wrong by this recent trend in reggaeton away from the dembow (referring not to the rhythm in general but to the specific sounds associated with that dancehall production).

    As for Lil Jon, you may be surprised by what I’m referring to as a “ravey” synth, given its commonness. I’d argue that many of Lil Jon’s hits have used such sounds. Usher’s “Yeah” is one example — see this article e.g. — basically that piercing sort of synth that resembles a vacuum cleaner on overdrive. Since then a lot of other crunk / Southern hip-hop tracks have been using such sounds. I also hear them these days in everything from funk carioca to dancehall (see e.g., “trancehall”) to soca to UK bassline. And the other kind of “ravey” sound in a lot of tracks is the arpeggio / tremelo effect that Timbo has been using a lot lately (not to mention Polow’s GarageBand beat for Usher) — a little more derived from trance techno than hardcore rave, though.


    Tito to wayne

    After a quick search all I could find for the Daddy Yankee Track is that Yankee enlisted producers Eli “El Musicólogo” and Menace for his forthcoming album but i’m not sure if they are the ones who produced the track. In terms of Tony Dize’s track, the album notes online list Masis Marcos Aka “Tiny” as the producer (Tiny /Tainy= Tiny Tunes, the 16th year-old prodigy of Luny Tunes, Here is his myspace I don’t have a physical copy of the album, so I can’t double check, but the album info comes from Billboard.

    I too was disappointed by Storch’s try at Reggaeton, but I’m curious to hear more attempts from producers such as Will I am & Swizz Beats. There was a rumor going around for a while that Dr. Dre was going to work on Yankee’s upcoming album, so we’ll see.

  • 5. nina  |  May 29th, 2008 at 9:13 am


    Im glad you have a hard time describing the synth sounds,makes me feel better about my frustration with my lack of musical vocabulary to describe certain things I hear.

    My favorite term for assorted mid 80’s techno/electronic sounds is “video gameish”, sounds like Atari to me. Vocorder stuff is all “Transformers sounding” according to me. I cant describe it, but I know what that means.

  • 6. Birdseed  |  May 29th, 2008 at 11:13 am

    I’m still a bit confused as to which synth sounds specifically are the ones called “Wonky” by Blackdown – is it the mid-range warping bass ones (the ones everyone else seems to be calling “electro bass” or “lazer bass” as found in niche house) or is it the thin sounds that are reminicent of old gaming consoles? The latter would make more sense, since the electro bass thing has been going for several years now, and both appear in many of the tracks in the article.

    I tried to ask him on his blog but I didn’t get a reply.

  • 7. dani  |  June 24th, 2008 at 10:49 pm

    that is hot get that on BET now that i go cable

  • 8. Strike a Pose. « Wa&hellip  |  August 22nd, 2008 at 8:48 pm

    […] the video, even though I’m sure everyone has heard the track already.  I first heard it on this post on W&W.  It’s a really interesting post, worth checking […]

  • 9. » A&hellip  |  February 1st, 2009 at 9:22 am

    […] promised to post about “raveyton” a long time ago, and twice. A recent ghettobassquake post serves as a fine reminder. Noting that reggaeton synths have been […]


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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