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5 Things You Didn't Know About Reggaeton

By Charlie Billows
Entertainment Correspondent - Every other Sunday
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2- Reggaeton came out of Panama
Though Puerto Rico is the modern-day hotbed of reggaeton, Panama is the original birthplace of the music. In the 1970s, a drove of Jamaican workers came to Panama to help work on improvements to the Panama Canal. The workers brought with them the reggae sounds from their home country, and soon local Panamanian artists began borrowing the music and incorporating it into their own songs.

Deejays like Nando Boom helped popularize this Latin form of reggae in Panama. By the early '80s, the music could be heard across much of Latin America, though it was still considered underground. As reggae and hip-hop increased in popularity in Puerto Rico in the 1990s, the pieces were in place for the establishment of a new, uniquely Latin genre.

Local Puerto Rican artists would habitually translate Jamaican reggae into Spanish, and when these lyrics were fused with Panamian-style reggae beats, reggaeton was born. A mix of hip-hop, reggae, meringue, and dancehall, the genre would become hugely popular in Puerto Rico by the mid-'90s.

3- Vico C & El General are the recognized founders of reggaeton
Though reggaeton is a mixed bag of several eclectic styles, each with their own origins, a few deejays helped define and introduce the new musical genre to the masses. One of these pioneers is Vico C, a New York-born rapper and deejay who grew up in the tough San Juan, Puerto Rico neighborhood of Puerta Tierra.

Throughout the 1980s, Vico C recorded Spanish-language rap cassettes and sold them at The Noise, a legendary San Juan club. As the cassettes caught on, Vico C soon became a producer, a position which allowed him to help aspiring artists develop the reggaeton style until it became the music we know today. The self-described "philosopher of reggaeton" has won two Latin Grammys for his work, and continues to perform and produce today.

Although Vico C helped spread the message and sound of reggaeton, few dispute that it was El General who got the music started in the first place. A Panamian ragga deejay, El General was one of the artists most profoundly influenced by Jamaican reggae. He took these influences to his turntables, where he created his own version of Latin reggae.

It was trailblazing music of El General and his peers that caught on in Panama and eventually spread to Puerto Rico. As it reached the island, Vico C picked up the torch and mixed in modern influences to complete the reggaeton sound.

4- Reggaeton is as much traditional as it is modern
Bomba and plena are two traditional genres of Puerto Rican folk music that have pervaded today's reggaeton beats. Though usually grouped together, these two forms have distinct histories and sounds.

The plena is a narrative song, often describing the sorrows of people living in the coastal communities of Puerto Rico. While the plena's focus is mainly on the lyrics, the genre is distinguished by the sound of its panderetas, handheld drums similar to tambourines. It is the sound of the panderetas, as well as that of the guiro, a notched, hollowed-out gourd, that reggaeton artists often borrow.

Another traditional genre that has weaved its way into reggaeton is bomba. Though derived from the same West African origins as plena, bomba has many differing features. Bomba is not a narrative genre, but is described as an accompaniment for dancers; a drum-based rhythm that features the sounds of several small tambors as well as a maraca.

Furthermore, the music alone does make bomba what it is. The singing and dancing that are combined with the genre's drum beats make bomba an event more than just a song. The fast beats of the buleador and subidor drums are the main contributions that bomba has made to reggaeton.

Why reggaeton won't be disappearing anytime soon... Next >>
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READER COMMENTS: ( 4 posts )
Fri, Aug.3rd 2007
at 13:56:46 EST
juicy says:
sick ass rapper he's one of the fast ones i don't know most of wat he says but it's still good.
Fri, Aug.3rd 2007
at 13:16:39 EST
Jessica says:
such a good fast rapper he's the best and he's cute
Sun, Jul.22nd 2007
at 10:48:22 EST
sarah says:
His music is great his voice is nice, rap's so fast & his beats are amazing i like 'king daddy' he's caliente too
Tue, Jul.17th 2007
at 22:44:52 EST
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