Wayne Marshall’s History of Reggaeton

Wayne Marshall took a thorough look at reggaeton in the Boston Phoenix last month with an approach reminiscent of socio-musicologists like George Lipsitz and Robin Kelley. He even posted a snappy audio guide to the booming genre. (Earlier I discussed Sara Corbett’s NYT magazine profile of Daddy Yankee.)

Only relatively recently, with its acquisition of market power and stateside acceptance, has reggaeton reached Puerto Rico’s middle- and upper-classes. What was previously denigrated as crude and crass now stands as a national symbol and a promising source of foreign exchange. In a place where, despite their celebrated mixed-ness, over 90% of Puerto Ricans self-identify as “white,? it’s no accident that a prominent reggaeton artist like Tego Calderon foregrounds his blackness by wearing an Afro, referring to himself as “El Negro Calde,? and incorporating Afro-Puerto-Rican traditions. In the US, Hispanic immigrants often find themselves living alongside, and racialized along with, African-Americans and Afro-Caribbeans, so it’s no surprise that reggaeton works in sympathy and solidarity with the cultural politics of hip-hop and reggae…

Reggaeton’s unmistakable boom-ch-boom-chick relates directly to the late-’80s/early-’90s dancehall reggae that inspired it, though it is not unreasonable for people to hear such syncopations as somehow inherently “Latin.? Indeed, Jamaican reggae itself, like so many other Caribbean and American genres, bears a strong relation to Latin-Caribbean music, especially Cuban son, a genre that contributed many stylistic features to calypso and other popular music of the 20th-century Caribbean tourist industry.


12 thoughts on “Wayne Marshall’s History of Reggaeton

  1. I am of haitian origin and my wife is of puertorican origin. We had a discusion of the origin of reggeaton which according to her originated in Puerto Rico. I say it all started in the US by Puerto Rican youth. Please advise which one of us is right.


  2. Hate to inform most people but Reggaeton is from Panama. El General and others were doing it back in the 90’s. The sound became popular because the Puerto Rican ability to travel in and out of the US.

  3. Actually, SPANISH REGGAE came out in panama and the first to actually make a reggaeton song was Vico C… he came out with the reggaeton mix tapes. Though, I could agree with you, El General WaS one of the fathers of reggaeton… just like that song Dembow

  4. Im’ Puerto rican and i said the Reggaeton is from Puerto Rico. but from Panama i don’t think so. The Reggaeton Start’s in the streets of Puerto Rico and is a mix of reggae and underground music of puerto rico. we made it and this is a matter Fact.

  5. I was watching a clip on some ones my space about Reggaetons roots. The person talking about Reggaeton was a Panamanian. What he was saying got to me so I went out and picked up many 70’s “Reggaeton” cd’s from Panamanian artist. What he side is that people get confused Reggaeton is much faster and has Latin Caribbean music like salsa, bomba, plena, merengue, mambo etc. with hip-hop/rap or house music incorporated into it. Spanish reggae is the root of Reggaeton but much slower with no Latin Caribbean and hip-hop in it. Spanish reggae is simply the back ground for Reggaeton. There for Reggaeton originated in Puerto Rico with the Spanish reggae roots. Listing to what Panama calls Reggaeton and what Puerto Rico calls Reggaeton is not the same. Pick up some cds your get it I did lol.

  6. im mixed with puerto-rican indian and black and i say that it also originated from the streets on puerto- rico. i also believe with out the help of some of the other cultures it would not be where its at today…….

  7. People… Reggae started, as all of you know, in JAMAICA (and igoing back, it comes from Africa)…from there it went to PANAMA due to the Canal Construction (immigrants) and it was translated from english to spanish…artists like Renato, Chicho Man, Nando Boom where the first ones in the country; however, El General was the one that popularized the music because he was in the US. Years later, rap or hip hop became more popular and the puertorican Vico C was the best icon of this music in spanish. Reggae has continued developing in Reggaeton is then derived from the roots of reggae and rap in spanish, and it became popular due to artists from PUERTO RICO, but it is also sing in Panama (but it has been easier for P.R. to promote its music due to their relation with the US). Nowadays, Panama music (reggae, dancehall, rap, hip hop, reggaeton, roots, and all of that) has continue developing since the 70’s a lot of good artists ..there are many involved in romantic reggae (El Roockie, Nigga, Eddy Lover, Freddy Sky, Makano, etc.) and a new cool combination named “reggae socca ” (you should here it – download Ya me olvidé de ti by Match and Daddy), and of course, reggaeton, rap and any similar rythms. Puerto Ricans are more into reggaeton and rap, and not into these other different types of music like Panamanians are. So.. in few words… the roots of this music in spanish are from Panama, but Puerto Rico has added their own style and helped to make this music and combination of rythms more popular..that is good to all the Latins.

  8. The original dembow riddim came from a jamaican artist named shabba ranks.he came out with a popular song called dem bow(them bow) in 1991.el general then took the riddim n marketed it in panama.he perfected the rhythm there

  9. Roots Panama!

    Improvised & expanded in Puerto Rico!
    Mii way of thinking
    Try not to bite my ear off ppl c(-8

    Much lübb

    Mamii çhülå

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