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Saturday, February 04, 2006


Reggaton is a form of dance music which became popular with Latin American youth during the late 1990s and spread to North American and European audiences during the first few years of the 21st century. Reggaton (also spelled with the Spanish accent as Reggaetón, and sometimes as Reguetón in Spanish) - blends Jamaican music influences of reggae and dancehall with those of Latin America, such as bomba and plena, as well as that of hip hop. The music is also combined with rapping (generally) in Spanish. Reggaeton has empowered the Spanish Caribbean youth,

Reggaton Distinguishing features

The genre's most notably unique feature is a driving drum-machine track, almost identical across different songs, derived from Trinidadian soca music and Jamaican dancehall rhythms. This beat is called "Dem Bow" after the beat in a Shabba Ranks song of the same name. It has been heavily influenced by other forms of electronic dance music, such as techno, house, and genres such as the merengue hip hop (also called merenhouse) of groups such as Proyecto Uno and Zona 7.

Reggaton History

The birthplace of the music genre is a subject of debate between those who believe it was started in Panama and those who believe it originated in Puerto Rico, however, it is known that the first Latin American reggae recordings were made in Panama during the 1970s. Reportedly, Reggae is said first to have arrived in Latin America with Jamaican labourers who came to help build the Panama Canal in the early 20th Century.

Artists such as El General, Nando Boom, Chicho Man, Rene Renegado, Black Apache are considered the first raggamuffin deejays from Panama. El General has been identified as one of the fathers of reggaeton, blending Jamaican reggae into a Latin-ised version

Meanwhile, during the 1980s the Puerto Rican rapper Vico C released Spanish-language hip hop records in his native country. His production of cassettes throughout the 1980s, mixing reggae and hip hop, helped spread the early reggaeton sound, and he is widely credited with this achievement. At this point the two main influences of the genre were in place, as well as the two main producing countries.

During the 1990s reggae production took off seriously in Panama; this also occurred separately in Puerto Rico due to the increased popularity of Jamaican ragga imports. It was common practice to translate the lyrics of Jamaican reggae song into Spanish and sing them over the original melodies. Towards the middle of the decade, Puerto Ricans were producing their own "riddims" with clear influences from hip hop and other styles. These are considered the first proper reggaeton tracks, initially called "under", a short form of "Underground". The 'under' scene widened when Puerto Rican and Cuban styles mixed with Panamanian-style reggae. DJ Playero was one of the most famous producers at the time, releasing several "underground" cassettes that featured early performances of some soon-to-be-famous artists like Daddy Yankee.

The genre morphed through the years, at various points being termed Melaza, musica underground and reggae de Puerto Rico. A breakthrough was by the Jamaican artist Shabba Ranks who released a track Dem Bow in the early 1990s. The beat and rhythm from this song became the eventual background for the developing genre; at one point the genre became known as Dem Bow.

The name reggaeton only gained prominence in the mid-1990s (from the 1994 to 1995 period), with the Dem Bow beat characterizing the genre; this is in contrast to the more reggae, dancehall and hip hop -derived tracks previously created. The name was reportedly created in Puerto Rico to signify the hybrid sound created from the years of mixing the different genres. Today, the music flourishes throughout Latin America.

Reggaeton soon increased in popularity with Latino youth in the United States when DJ Blass worked with artists such as Plan B and Speedy in albums such as Reggaeton Sex. The first song which introduced Reggaeton to a big amount of fans is the song Tra Tra by Don Chezina. From there on reggaeton gained fans with songs such as Amor Con La Ropa by Speedy, No Puedo Estar Sin Sexo by Plan B, and Dembow by Yandel.

Reggaeton expanded and became known when other producers followed the steps of DJ Playero, like DJ Nelson and DJ Eric. In the mid 90s albums like Playero 37 (In which Daddy Yankee became known) and The Noise 5 and 6 were very popular in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. Singers like Don Chezina, Master Joe, Mey Vidal, Baby Rasta Y Gringo, Polaco among others were very popular.

Many now popular producers, such as Noreaga, Luny Tunes, and Eliel, first appeared in the reggaeton scene in 2003. Albums such as Mas Flow, The Last Don, and Las Gargolas 4 expanded reggaeton's popularity among Hispanics in the United States.

2004 was the year that reggaeton gained widespread popularity in the United States, eventually gaining attention in many 'Western' countries. This has been due to N.O.R.E. introducing the genre on to mainstream America with the song Oye Mi Canto, and when Daddy Yankee came out with his album Barrio Fino and his hit single Gasolina. Another important artist that contribuited to gain popularity to reggaeton, especially in Europe, is Don Omar, with singles like 'Pobre Diabla' and 'Dale Don Dale'.

Reggaeton has been a huge hit all across the globe, especially in Latin American countries, such as the Caribbean nations like Colombia, Venezuela, and in some Central American countries. In some countries (such as Venezuela, with Calle Ciega, Doble Impakto and Mr. Brian), domestic "reggaetoneros" have arisen, expanding the Pan-latin feel of the genre. Reggaeton has become staple music in most reunions and parties across Venezuela, complementing the common mix of merengue, salsa and "changa" (mostly everything from Trance to House, electronic music) and has paved a huge fan base all across the country.

Today Reggaton continues to see growth, with new artists and new fans in regions across the world.


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