From Panama to the Top of the Charts: The Story and Roots of Reggaeton Music
Although today it’s one of the hottest styles of music around these days, the story of reggaeton music goes way back to a variety of music genres. These genres range from reggae and dancehall to Latin American styles including bomba, bachata and salsa. It has also been influenced greatly by rap/hip-hop and R & B.
The style of reggaeton dates back to the country of Panama in the 1970s. At that time, Jamaican reggae started to influence the language and culture of the nation. These early artists gave the Jamaican style a distinctive latin-sounding beat. Meanwhile, Puerto Rico in the 1980s was a site of a related movement. A group of hip hop artists lead by Vico C began to combine reggae into their songs. Caribbean and African-American music was becoming a significant influence in the country during that time. Over the next few years, this trend would radically grow. It wasn’t too long until a new genre was formed: a combination of the Panamanian-influenced reggae, but with a strong influence of electronic music. The traditional Latin American sounds mentioned previously were also a key factor to this emerging musical style.
Then, in 1991, the musician Shabba Ranks came up with a song called Dem Bow. Although it wasn’t clear at the time, this song would come to have a major influence on the development of the genre. You still here it today to refer to the pounding snare-drum heavy sound that is characteristic of reggaeton. A couple of years later, the name reggaeton was used for the first time, new artists began to make it extremely popular in several Latin American countries.
A second wave of reggaeton artists were responsible for breaking into the market of the USA. Once they did, it did not take long to achieve widespread popularity. Today popular artists including Wisin y Yandel, Don Omar, Rakim y Ken-y, Daddy Yankee and many more have topped the charts and cemented reggaeton’s reputation as an incredibly popular fusion genre that’s here to stay.
In addition to being a musical force of its own, some of these reggaeton artists have collaborated with other, more mainstream artists to bring even more attention to the genre. Daddy Yankee recorded a song Gangsta Zone with Snoop Dogg; Wisin y Yandel collaborated with 50 Cent on Mujeres en el Club; Dom Omar created Conteo alongside Juelz Santana; and the same Wisin y Yandel also recorded a track with R&B singer T-Pain. In the future, we can expect many more of these exciting collaborations, and for reggaeton music to continue to become more and more popular.