Reggaeton is today’s global youth music and the sound of young New York City. Like rock and soft rock, salsa dura and salsa romántica, reggaeton is evolving from its dembow riddim Afro-Caribbean roots into all kinds of interesting blends.
Reggaeton lyrics can be terribly raunchy, but who didn’t think that way in their teens and 20s? Reggaeton dancing can also seem raunchy, but the woman, or whoever is getting down, controls the game.
Elders made the same complaints about Elvis and Frank Sinatra in their day. So let the kids have fun. Better yet, jump in.
Reggaeton dancing is an Afro-Caribbean expression of community belonging and individuality within the community. In Puerto Rico, we dance reggaeton with our families. That may be its truest context.
Reggaeton is “Da now ting,” Worldwide
Riddim > Trinidad > Jamaica > Panama > New York City > Puerto Rico > Colombia > Worldwide
Reggaeton Festivals in NYC
Friday, November 29, 2019
NEWARK, New Jersey ~ La Mega 97.9FM brings the stars of reggaeton and latin trap: Alex Sensation, Ozuna, Farruko, Luis Fonsi, Prince Royce, REIK, V Manuelle, Becky G, Jhay Cortez, Ivy Queen, Lunay and Chimbala to Prudential Center
Friday, August 30, 2019
PROSPECT HEIGHTS, Brooklyn ~ Rap, Reggaeton and Latin Trap featuring Ozuna, A Boogie, Farruko, Gunna, Jeremih, Arcangel, El Alfi, Duki, over 20 artists at Barclays Center
NEWARK, NJ; Sun, Apr 19, 2019 ~ Reggaeton concert ~ Colombian DJ Alex Sensation brings out his friends Ozuna, J Balvin, Farruko, Anuel AA, Karol G, El Alfa, Jowell y Randy, Manuel Turizo and more
Reggaeton New Yorkers
LA MEGA FM 97.9
Thursday, July 16, 2020, 8-10pm
YouTube, Facebook & Twitch
March 14, 2020
Brooklyn DJ iMarkkeyz remixes Cardi B’s Instagram rant. It’s charting and they are donating proceeds to CoronaVirus victims.
Shake da Booty
Booty shaking in the dance looks sexy and it is, but the woman is in control. Her movement mirrors the shaman’s squat, where a healer squats to connect his/her first chakra (root chakra, the perineum) to the earth.
In traditional cultures, “getting down” actually makes one taller and more powerful. It’s like a plié in ballet where the dancer goes down and up at the same time.
The movement is very sexual, but anthropologists who study the dance floor, have noted that the woman controls the action. She makes as much contact, or as little as she wants.
Booty shaking is a playful mirroring of procreation which is the most godlike act that humans can do. Caribbeans love to tease each other. We make fun of all the pains, sorrows and joys of life. Whatever is going on, we just make fun.
Bowcat!, Chesback!Dem Bow, Shabba Ranks, 1990
All bowsie, me off with you!
And you know say me, Shabba nuh really like no bow cat, you too dirty!
The Spirit of Reggaeton is Caribbean
The famous petroglyph of Atabey, the supreme goddess of the Indigenous Taíno (eastern Cuba + Dominican Republic + Puerto Rico) shows the goddess in the shaman’s squat. She is basically mother earth, the Virgin or Pachamama. You see the same squat in the iconic gold work of Indigenous Colombia and others Indigenous peoples around the world.
Indigenous people are smarter than we’ve been led to believe. There is great wisdom in Indigenous ways and metaphors.
Interestingly given the recent earthquakes in the ocean off of southwest Puerto Rico, the representation of Atabey mirrors the geological composition of Jamaica, Haiti/Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. The North American plate (which includes Cuba) and the Caribbean plate are both folding down underneath the islands. The collision of the two tectonic plates raises the islands just like Atabey’s amphibious legs support her body in the famous petroglyph.
Like the Abrahamic religions, Indigenous religions generally have one supreme god/goddess with many manifestations that represent characteristics of the supreme one. It is similar, though not exactly, to the veneration of angels or saints.
One of the manifestations of Atabey is Caguana, the spirit of love. Another is Guabancex (the X is a soft breath sound as in Don Quixote), who represents hurricanes, volcanoes and earthquakes. We have all of those things around the islands.
This is the Caribbean spirit and the spirit of Reggaeton, hurricanes, volcanoes, booty shaking earthquakes and love, lots of love.
Tu pun pun, mami-mami, no”Tu Pun Pun, El General, 1991
Tu Pun Pun…
Tu Pun Pun (your vagina) was one of the first hits of reggae en Español, which we now call reggaeton. Edgardo Armando Franco (El General) was a Panamanian reggae singer who came to New York City to study business administration.
El General started DJing parties and noticed that New Yorkers got more excited when he sang in Spanish than when he sang in Jamaican Patois.
Jamaicans moved to Panama back in the day to finish building the Panama Canal. Private buses used to provide transportation in poor neighborhoods. They advertised their presence with sound systems (which kids now put in their cars in the barrios of New York). Some drivers hired kids to “rap” about their great bus service. Some of these kids made mixtapes to rap over. That popularized the music in Panama.
Caribbean mixtape culture makes music by rapping over popular rhythms, “da now ting.” Jamaican singer Shabba Ranks’ Dem Bow (1990) provided the beat of a generation.
El General brought the music to New York City. People like Puerto Rican reggaeton legend Vico C heard the music and brought it to Puerto Rico. There reggaeton mixtape culture developed in the caserios (Puerto Rican public housing projects).
In the same way that Puerto Rican salsa jumped from New York to Barranquilla and then Cali, Colombia in the 1970s, Puerto Rican reggaeton made a similar jump to Medellín, Colombia.
J Balvin even made a Colombian anthem Mi Gente (2017) which was a reference to the Puerto Rican anthem Mi Gente (1975) sung by Hector LaVoe with Willie Colón for FANIA. African American-Louisiana Creole singer Beyoncé made a mix that brought the song to wider U.S. audiences.
If you can get over yourself, mi gente (my people) includes everyone. There is a double meaning Caribbean style when they sing “Freeze.” It means stop, but it also means “Frees.” True freedom is loving all peoples. On the reggaeton dance floor we are free.
That’s how Jamaican reggae got to Panama, got to New York, switched into Spanish and jumped to Puerto Rico and Colombia before going worldwide as the popular dance music of today’s youth.
It’s not so strange really because even reggae has unspoken clave in it. Clave is the 5-beat bell pattern of Sub-Saharan Africa.
Dembow, Dembow, DembowDembow, Wisin y Yandel (2003)
Me vuelve loco bailando el dembow”