La Musica Negra (Hispana?)

Having read no small # of reggaeton messageboard debates (esp over ?s of nat’l origin), I’ve developed a decent sense, I’d like to think, of when someone hits a good # of signposts. The following gem is quite solid in that respect — myths, misspellings, elisions and omissions, grammatical and historical slippage notwithstanding. Econowhimsical prose, tĂș sabe? (AND POLITELY S^LF-C&NS0R%D TO B00T!) I especially love how papito0724 slides from English into Spanish and back, sorta like reggaeton itself.

In some sense, I couldn’t say it better myself. But I’ll try.


It came to my attn recently that my shift in focus from reggae to reggaeton has lost me some (one?) readers. Alas. What can I say. I write about what I think about. And I’ll surely continue writing and thinking about reggae too. But if you can’t come along on whatever aesthetic adventures I’m into at the moment, yeah, this blog ain’t for you. (Or, perhaps, may I recommend the tag cloud or search bar?)


But I am glad that people like Nina, aka Salvaje Siempre, are out there and adding their 2 centavos to the discourse. Check her recent post about Ivy Queen for some palabras provocativas. Though, I’d like to point out (as demonstrated below) that Ivy used to represent mad rugged, too (and, yeah, check all those hip-hop samples and tell me that PR didn’t add their own thing to [Spanish] reggae) —

and even with the various modifications she’s made to her image, and her recent dips into bachatera-mode, Ivy still raps about as fiercely as anyone out there (for better or worse — we could use a greater range of female subjectivities offered in reggaeton, and, yeah, in pop culture more generally).


Having more and more critical interlocutors in the reggaetonosphere is a good thing, and I hope we can continue linkthinking through the genre’s key terms, hot-buttons, central issues, hopes and dreams and knameans. I sure appreciate being able to float ideas and theories out here, and I doubly appreciate getting thoughtful, stimulating feedback.

Take, for example, a recent question I’ve been puzzling w/r/t the valences of certain ethno-racial identifications as articulated over the course of reggaeton history (including the days before it was called reggaeton). The question, which I’ve raised before, has to do with whether projections of community in reggaeton have shifted radically over the last ten years — a change that I sometimes like to pose, provocatively, as audible in the shift from “musica negra” (a term of self-description employed in the mid-90s) to today’s “reggaeton latino.”

Or to put it to you more soundly, more directly —

do Blanco’s “esta es la musica negra“* & Maicol y Manuel’s “en la casa, para la raza / Maicol y Manuel que te canta melaza” [from Playero 38]

essentially say the same thing as

boricua, morena, dominicano, colombiano, cubano, mexicano” ??

or do they say something rather different ??

I’m not jus sayin — I’m askin.

I’ve got my theories; I’d like to hear yours.


* I should note — to complicate things a bit — that the jury seems to be out on whether Blanco sings “la musica negra, hispana!” or “la musica negra, is murda!”; it sounds like the latter to me and Raquel, but others have transcribed it otherwise, which is significant in its own right, though it may reflect a more contemporary sensibility / mode of hearing; me, I’m trying to figure (out?) whether something like “raza” in PR in the mid-90s would have signified blackness or simply, a la Kid Frost, (“third race”) Latinidad.