History of Reggaetón Music
Snoop Dog, Pharrell Williams, Diddy, Fergie, Janet Jackson, Camila Cabello, Major Lazer, and Justin Bieber all have something in common. They are all among some of the artists who have collaborated with Daddy Yankee to enter the Reggaetón music industry. The Reggaetón music industry went from being unknown to being one of the most popular genres in American music. Today I am going to tell you where the Reggaetón music first began, how it spread around the world, and how it has influenced the Latin American community.
Reggaetón music is said to have first began in one of two places. It either began in Panama or in Puerto Rico. Reggaetón music was based after the Jamaican style of Reggae and Spanish rap. The first time something that was similar to modern day Reggaetón was heard was in the clubs of San Juan Puerto Rico in 1991. It was commonly known as “underground” music because of its spread in unknown networks and venues.
The early reggaetón music became a creative outlet for the youth and because of this it got bad feedback from the Puerto Rican government. Reggaetón became a new genre called “underground”. It had explicit lyrics about things that were not openly talked about such as drugs, sex, and violence. The music was generally recorded in “Marquesinas”. “Marquesinas” is a Spanish word for carports. These were shelters for a car consisting of a roof supported on posts, built beside a house. The Marquesinas were usually good quality and because of this the youth of all social classes began listening to it.
The “Underground” music was harshly criticized. In 1995 the police began a campaign against it and confiscated cassette tapes from music stores and demonized the rappers in the media. The police sponsored six raids on record stores in San Juan. The DEC (Department of Education) banned baggy clothing and underground music from all schools. Through this negative influence from the police, the underground music began to be purchased through bootleg recordings and through word of mouth.
Reggaetón music began to be accepted a part of the Puerto Rican culture when it was used by Gonzalez who used it in his election campaign to appeal to younger voters. Some of the most popular sets in the 1990s were DJ Negro’s “The Noise I” and DJ Playero’s 37 and 38. Also, reggaetón was being used to help teach math to students in the similar way as School House Rock. This helped improve the image of this genre of music.
So how did Reggaetón spread around the world from the little island of Puerto Rico to the rest of the world? Reggaetón began to become mainstream when in 2006 Pepsi did a commercial with Daddy Yankee. The Pepsi commercial showed what the Reggaetón music was based on and depicted the culture listening to it. It featured Daddy Yankee in his rapper attire wearing sweatpants, gold chains, dark sunglasses, and walking to the sound of Reggaetón music.
It showed young kids riding bikes, old men playing poker on the sidewalk, and young women asking for his autograph. Pepsi was a world known brand that legitimized the Reggaetón sound and culture. Reggaetón was becoming more and more popular and it was now being noticed by all the big players in the music industry. By this point in about 2004 Reggaetón became popular in the United States. Multiple artists had come out with hit singles that topped the music charts such as Luny Tunes and Noriega’s Mas Flow, Yaga Mackie’s Sonando Diferente, and of course Daddy Yankees hit singe Gasolina. Gasolina was being played and heard everywhere.
Soon after, Shakira was ready to record “La Tortura” with the Reggaetón sound. There were many record breaking billboard hits after this and now fast forward to 2017. Despacito, by Luis Fonsi featuring Daddy Yankee reached over a billion views in under three months. It is the most viewed music video of all time and became one of the bestselling Latin singles in the United States.
As popular as Reggaetón has become, it still remains controversial because of its explicit lyrics. While it has a rhythm that is very popular for dancing, it sometimes promotes violence, drugs, and degrades women as objects of pleasure. Traditionally, Latin music has been the exact opposite. The Lyrics always speak of feelings weather good or bad, but in a respectful way.
With a variety of sounds from so many different Spanish speaking countries, the Latin music industry remains rich and diverse. While many continue to enjoy moving to the reggaetón rhythm, it is hard to ignore the explicit lyrics in many of the songs. There is no telling what the future of Reggaetón will be in terms of its lyrics cleaning up. Then again, this can also be said about much of the younger generation of music in different genres such as hip-hop and rap.