Genre Spotlight: Raeggeton
There’s something hypnotic about Latin and African rhythms that cause listeners to spontaneously up and grab the nearest partner and begin to move their bodies. Latin music as an umbrella genre is well known for its many dance-friendly niches, a few notable ones of the many being salsa, cumbia, and flamenco. However, one that has been less embraced cross-culturally, especially here in the US, has been Reggaeton. A product of hip-hop, dancehall, soca, and other traditional Latin styles, Reggaeton has a uniquely repetitive rhythmic structure that is easily distinguished from the masses when heard. All of us are familiar with this genre’s signature sound despite not knowing it; the chorus of Major Lazer’s hit “Lean On” draws heavily on popular Reggaeton beats and sounds. However what often separates Reggaeton from other traditional Latin genres is its proximity to the ground; that is to say: it has always been an ideal outlet for various counterculture movements, and has always been a genre that, similarly to hip-hop, has pushed the boundaries of acceptable cultural standards. This is not to say that Reggaeton is a genre without musical or cultural value; on the contrary, Reggaeton is an example of an underground music scene, originally oppressed by government and high society alike in its country of origin, Puerto Rico, that has given a voice to generations of urban youth by providing them an outlet to expression outside of the traditional realms of art. In many instances, rap and hip-hop are integrated into Reggaeton songs, such as with Calle 13’s “Atrévete Te Te”:
Many songs focus on love and seduction as their themes, such as “El Perdón” by Nicky Jam y Enrique Iglesias:
Some songs, like “La Gozadera” by Gente De Zona y Marc Anthony are celebrations of heritage and cultural unity:
Reggaeton is a fun, energetic, dance-oriented Latin genre that’s caught my attention and will continue to hold it for a while. If you agree, check out this Spotify playlist:
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