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Reggaeton Is Dead?

by Amanda La Gringa
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Reggaeton Is Dead? The Word In The Barrio.

It’s no secret, this gringa loves “reggaeton.” My reasoning for the “quotations” is that according to some, reggaeton is dead. Well, my initial gringa reaction was: “Ummm, no, it’s not.” But then, I started thinking about the reggaeton that I first heard back in high school:

It was 2005 and I was sitting with some friends on the patio outside our favorite Starbucks, playing cards and sipping a frappuccino (bc that’s what white kids do) and my friend pulled up blaring what I thought was rap. This isn’t the most common occurrence in the suburbs, so when he yells my name to come over to his car, I jump right up to see what is going on. “Listen to this! It’s rap in Spanish!” he says, and turns the music up even louder. Slightly embarrassed by all the eyeballs now staring at us, I listen for a moment…and confused, I respond, “Turn it down! Is this is joke? Why are they singing about gasoline and why does that girl want more of it?!”

I didn’t think about this discovery again for several weeks, until I was watching the MTV VMAs (which used to be a big deal). All of a sudden, there was this dude, in baggy pants, a weird hair cut and sunglasses singing about gasolina on stage and the people were loving it! I learn his name is Daddy Yankee and what he is singing is a real thing called reggaeton. After a few minutes on Limewire (before it was illegal), I’m now the proud owner of an array of reggaeton songs and even though I understand about 5% of what they are saying, I’m hooked.

Now, back to 2011. A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to see Daddy Yankee live. I was expecting the show to be in a concert hall or stadium, but no, it was held in a tiny club in downtown Miami. estupido. estupido. So, about 100 people enjoyed an up-close, amazing performance by (who I consider) THE reggaetonero of our time. The place was half empty and I was completely confundida. Where have all the Daddy Yankee fans gone?

So, yes, maybe reggaeton, as we knew it in early 2000, is dead. The standards of reggaeton like Don Omar and Ivy Queen have incorporated bachata and more Caribbean beats into their biggest hits. Tego Calderón sticks to only “feat.” gigs. Wisin y Yandel can only seem to make it on the charts when featuring another big name artist (Ex: Sean Kingston, Enrique Iglesias, Ricky Martin). Can’t forget Calle 13, who cleaned house at the 2011 Latin Grammys where they gave an incredibly moving performance (watch it here), but those guys define their own genre as they go along, which is why they are so amazing. (click here for a pic of me and Rene). Even Daddy Yankee, as La Rubia pointed out in her recent review of “Lovumba, has converted to a more pop-damce vibe in order to stay relevant.

My conclusion: ¡No te preocupes! We will always have “Gasolina” for moments when we need our “old school” reggaeton beats, but who doesn’t get swept away by the moving lyrics of “Latinoamérica” and nothing can get people dancing like “Danza Kuduro.” Reggaeton in its purest form maybe be gone for good, but not because the genre is dead, but because it’s transforming and renewing itself within the Urban Latino movement. So, this gringa thinks we should stop focusing on the past and sit back and enjoy the rakata-ride.

Flashback with us y watch the vide for “Gasolina“!


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Spanglish Noise January 19, 2012 - 8:32 am

The borderline-mainstream popularity that reggaeton enjoyed around 2005 has certainly lost its magic (as well as several artists), but there are still new artists helping to keep it alive (ie. Farruko, Jory, J Alvarez). New producers such as Los Hitmen in Orlando are often fun to follow as well. In my mind reggaeton will stay alive as long as new artists keep putting out music, popular sites such as Real Talk Reggaeton remains in existence, and key radio stations such as Reggaeton 94 stay on the air. If any of those outlets disappear, then the genre is in trouble. Until then, reggaeton will remain alive, even if it’s limited to Florida, Puerto Rico / The Caribbean, and small scenes elsewhere. Thanks for the post!

La Roja January 20, 2012 - 4:08 pm

Gracias por tu commentario! I will check out those new reggaeton artists you mentioned!

PapoChupiChupi May 14, 2012 - 7:10 pm

Oye chica! estas bien equivocao,
quizas el dembow esta muerto aqui en los e.u,
pero desde la republica hasta colombia
es lo mas pegao
pa la pinga a estaos unidos,
no le importa a nadie si reggaeton esta popular entre los gringos
reggaeton esta bien vivo al sur de la frontera
y eso es la k hay

Daddy Yankee Enters El Futuro With Lovumba Video | Las Gringas Blog August 28, 2012 - 1:13 pm

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Jorge Vargas October 20, 2013 - 12:47 am

Lol, just came across this blog from a Google search I did about Reggaeton. Glad you love the Genre of music as well as the culture of the Puerto Rican and the spanish population in general. Earlier forms of reggaeton were just as good as the reggaeton you hear now, but I notice a lot of Techno-ish style to it with the hard pumping synthesizers, thumping bass and blaring drums. I absolutely love the direction Reggaeton is heading, unlike Hip-hop and rap which was my first love, this direction seems to be amazing and producing great results. You aren't the only Gringa/Gringo who is into reggaeton as I have a Jewish and Albanian friend who absolutely LOVES reggaeton and blasts the music in their car.

Dance to the Beat » Hello dancers or non-dancers, it doesn’t matter you are still welcomed. November 4, 2013 - 7:56 pm

[…] Image 3: Who does not love reggaeton? Reggaeton is very popular and many people listen to it. http://amandalagringa.com/2012/01/reggaeton-is-dead/ […]

Eddie February 6, 2016 - 8:37 pm

Im worried about the generation today there’s this new hype music trend called “dembow” from Dominican Republic” and it sparked competition between Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic . What I hate about this “new” genre is that the Dominicans have the audacity to call it dembow when reggaeton mentions the word dembow everytime before it became a thing. The rhythm is not like today’s reggaeton but it sounds much like reggaeton in the 90s like why not call underground reggaeton? It just gets me mad.


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