Reggaeton I am the one In control
By: Idania Machado Photos: José Tito Meriños
If you don't like it, you won't be able to escape from it. 24 hours a day, on all radio and TV stations, in taxis, in bars, at homes, at parties, everywhere people listen to Reggaeton. There are all kinds, from all regions, good and bad, romantic, disrespectful, mediocre, and excellent. It has motivated passions, studies and criticism but never, since its arrival to the island, indiﬁerence. What is this phenomenon that exceeds the invasion dramatized by H. G. Wells in War of the Worlds has it been able to displace well established genres such as Salsa and become the preferred sound for Cuban youth?
First of all, the main characteristic of this latest music is the highlighting of popular experience and a language emerging from the streets, as Rap did, bringing escapism and fantasy to its fans.
Musically, according to the experts, it has simple and reiterative rhythmic patterns, slightly enriched by Cuban percussion. But it stops there. The key point of its success is that this rhythm is not exclusive of a certain elite; it is very basic and the world, with its increasingly broad mixture of cultures, is ﬂooded with its authenticity.
What was a popular dance 60 years ago? How did you start a love affair in the middle of the past century? How were communications back then? If we just look at these aspects we realize the immensity ofthe change in our world. This is the time of irreverent responses, of youth suffering from their parents' and their grandparents' mistakes, and where the lack of inhibition has invaded all areas, All this is the soil that the younger people of our planet, full of wars and violence, have grown up in. The young people of Cuba were born and grew up in the middle ofthe 1990's economic crisis, called the “Special Period,” during which more than the economy suffered with the collapse of the Eastern Bloc countries. Survival forced the sacriﬁce, not of principles, but of values that resulted in a new paradigm, a new type of thinking.
And this phenomenon of a lack of inhibitions and the penchant for expressing one's problems has resulted in, among others, the voice of the neighborhood imposing itself and looking for a way to get established.
To be a Reggaeton player you don't necessarily need to be a professional musician. Having talent and a desire to express oneself is enough. New technologies have helped in evading the official media channels and distribution systems established by the mainstream producers.
The proximity of the Cuban eastern provinces to Puerto Rico, where this musical genre was said to be born along with Panama, helped people to come into contact with this music. It was immediately welcomed and a national version was born. Afusion between Jamaica's reggae, US Rap, Salsa, a.nd other Caribbean rhythms: Reggaeton made its entry. It is also very interesting how many of the best Cuban Salsa and Timba bands have invited rappers and Reggaeton musicians to perform on some of their recordings and have scored several hits.
Many of them have increased their reputations and popularity with their very sexually explicit lyrics. As it usually happens, everything forbidden and scandalous triggers curiosity. That is the case with El Médico and Candyman.
Now Number One
I used a verse from a song by Eddy-K — one ofthe most popular bands on the island — as the title for this article, This band, led by Eduardo Mora, stands out for its lyrics that are more elaborate than coarse. They are the face of Reggaeton in Cuba and are very popular with the young generation. Eddy-K is totally authentic and represents the shape and spirit ofhis Cuban neighborhood. The greatest virtue of art, apart from the way that expression is chosen, is being authentic.
Eddy-K formed in 1997 and was nominated for awards at Cubadisco 2006 — the International Recording Fair in Cuba — in the categories of Rap, Dance, Hip Hop, Best New Record, and Design for its rec0rdAqui estdn los cuatro released by Ahí/Namá Music.
Eddy-K stated that while they did not win an award, he was very happy because his music had made its ﬁrst step into the Cuban musical industry and was acknow- ledged for its quality, even though the music wasn't always welcomed by critics. The band has performed internationally and has entered the Latinos Record Pool (an association of disc jockeys and music programmers from nightclubs, mobile entertainment groups, and local radio stations) and has hit the charts in the United States and Italy. Their music video was awarded third place at the MTV Latin Music Awards. Music keeps roaring on the island.