Tag Archives: Reggaeton

Salsa and Sexism: Are You Mouthing Misogyny?

By Guest Contributor Rachael Kay Albers, cross-posted from Latina Fatale

It is after midnight and I’m in a taxi on the way back to my barrio, mouthing the lyrics to a song on the radio that I’m proud to know the lyrics of when, suddenly, I stop (fake) singing. Spanish is my second language and memorizing song lyrics doesn’t come as easily to me as it does in English—if I can successfully sing along to a song in a café or on the radio, I wave the useless ability like a flag. But, as I silently croon in my cab tonight, I realize that, in my quest to hone my dual language lip syncing abilities, I have paid absolutely zero attention to the content of the lyrics I’m not singing.

The song on my cabbie’s radio is “Lamento Boliviano,” (Bolivian Lament). You may know it for its famous chorus:

Y yo estoy aquí
borracho y loco
y mi corazón idiota
siempre brillará
y yo te amaré
te amaré por siempre

(And I am here
drunk and crazy
and my stupid heart
will always shine
and I will love you
I will love you forever)

As I listen carefully to the lyrics, I imagine the scene being described: a drunk, desperate man declaring his undying love to his wronged mujer after saying, in earlier lyrics, that he feels there is a volcano of rage inside of him. I have lived this scene. The drunk, desperate man “in love” is not nearly as romantic as the Enanitos Verdes — the Argentinean rock band that croons “Lamento Boliviano” — make him seem. He can be, in fact, quite dangerous, especially when he says he has an, um, “volcano” inside of him.

Ugh — sexist lyrics glamorizing alcoholism and violence in Spanish, too? I think, dumbly. How has the thought never occurred to me before? I mean, what did I expect from the music that just happened to be playing the many times I have been fondled or — I’ll just say it — humped on various dance floors across Mexico? Hip hop gets the rap in the United States for violent, misogynistic lyrics with country music coming in at second place—both deservingly. But, what about the music I’m listening to in Latin America?
Continue reading

Neoliberalism and Reggaeton

By Guest Contributor Marisol LeBron, originally published at post pomo nuyorican homo

reggaetoncuba

Reuters recently published a pieced entitled “Reggaeton fever shakes up Cuba’s culture” the article cites an now infamous (in reggaeton circles anyway) quote by Juventud Rebelde that calls reggaeton a “reflection of ‘neoliberal thinking’.”

I think the development and growth of reggaeton in Cuba has been fascinating (if you are interested check out Geoff Baker’s work) and illuminates much about the ways in which different musical forms/genres circulate as cultural and ideological commodities.

The idea of reggaeton being a product of neoliberalism is intriguing. Clearly the flows of neoliberal capital and its circuits facilitated the spread of technologies and people that enabled the different permutations of reggaeton within the   Caribbean, the Americas, and globally.

More than anything else, I wonder what seeing reggaeton as a neoliberal commidity says about how Cuban authorities think about the neocolonial relationship between the United States and Puerto Rico and the forces of diaspora (not only between Puerto Rico and the U.S., but broadly speaking) in forging reggaeton, essentially outside of the Cuban nation (and well any nation really). Reggaeton is largely positioned as outside of the Cuban nation, seen as an import from the yanquis via Puerto Rico, which is why Cuban Culture Minister Abel Prieto is quoted in the Reuters piece as saying that reggaeton needs to be “pushed away.” Reggaeton is agringado, a corrupting influence on Cuba’s revolutionary ideals.

While reggaeton is (often mis)understood as a Puerto Rican, or even an American phenomenon, the more authorities and cultural brokers attempt to place reggaeton within some kind of national frame the more obvious it becomes that reggaeton exist in between and outside of national boundaries.

Maybe that is what makes reggaeton so threatening, what incites all these national panics? Well, besides sex and race, but of course those things are tied up within the nation too…

Now I’m just ranting though….thoughts?

Reggaeton’s White Hope and the “Reggaeton Crash”

By Guest Contributor Marisol LeBron, originally posted at post pomo nuyorican homo

I have a lot of feelings watching this video, but not quite any thoughts yet. I have had some thoughts on Calle 13 in general recently though.

While I like Calle 13, there is something as of late that makes me completely uncomfortable with how Residente’s blanquito flow and his “art school/class clown attitude,” as Wayne Marshall aptly terms it, are being heralded by reggaeton supporters and detractors alike as shining example of where the genre should go. Calle 13 is being positioned by many as the great white hope that is going to resuscitate reggaeton from its supposed “death.” (pero no con mas gasolina, that’s for sure).

Wanye Marshalll just blogged a fantastic post entitled “Can We Talk About ‘Can We Talk About the Reggaeton Crash?’?”, responding to, among other things, Willie Colon’s assertion that reggaeton has peaked Wayne says,

i think reggaeton’s gonna be around (and popular) for some time to come. we’ll see what it sounds like, though. and whether people still call “it” reggaeton (they did, after all, used to call “it” any number of names).

Continue reading

Why I Study Reggaeton

By Guest Contributor Marisol LeBron, originally published at post pomo nuyorican homo

reggaeton

As I was getting myself ready to head down to the Puerto Rican Day Parade (or more accurately, its aftermath) I found myself dumbstruck by the profundity of what I was hearing and seeing.

Always the multi-tasker I was getting ready with the TV switched on to the Parade and Las Guanabanas’ new mixtape, “Regreso Al Underground” (Return to the Underground), blasting from the speakers in my bathroom. I stopped scurrying around my apartment long enough to watch the parade for a moment and paso una cosa rara (a queer thing happened). As Fox 5’s cameras cut from (post)reggaetonero Residente of Calle 13 to shots of flag waving boricuas watching the parade, the last song from “Regreso Al Underground” came on and announced to the world: “Yo soy bellaco, pa’ que tu lo sepas!” (I’m horny, just so you know!).

With the same cadence and enthusiasm that the crowds at the Puerto Rican Day Parade shout “Yo so Boricua, pa’ que tu lo sepa,” reggaetoneros Tommy Viera and Chantelly, announced and celebrated their hornyness. The theme of bellaqueo in reggaeton is not particularly surprising, however, this moment caught me completely off guard. Overlaid as they were, it seemed as if the two forces had synced and the crowd on the TV rather than announcing its Puertorriquenidad was announcing its desire to fuck. Right then and there, by pure happenstance, I had witnessed what Puerto Rican cultural nationalist must conjure in their worst fears about reggaeton – the excesses of the body and of sexuality and desire that resist the disciplining technologies of the nationalist project – and on this day of all days!

The management of sexuality – queer sexualities, racialized sexualities, and non-procreative sexualities – has always been at the center of any nationalist project. Yet, this accidental intrusion of bellaqueo into the quintessential spectacle of Puerto Rican cultural nationalism provides an interesting moment of disruption and illuminates the simultaneous absence and ubiquity of sexuality in nationalist discourse and imagery.

So I ask: what would it mean to put bellaqueo at the center of our studies of the Puerto Rican nation?

Continue reading

Quoted: Reggaeton and Race

Excerpted by Latoya Peterson


In a January 2006 article published by the Village Voice, Jon Caramanica ended a largely celebratory piece on reggaeton with a somewhat sudden, cryptic remark: “Fuck a Slim Shady,” he quipped, “Hip-Hop’s race war begins here.” Caramanica thus suggests that the most prominent “racial” tensions around hip-hop are not between African Americans and whites (represented by prominent white rapper, Slim Shady, a.k.a. Eminem) but between African Americans and Latinos. Similarly, blogger Bryan Crawford’s tongue-in-cheek March 2006 post for XXL magazine’s website, “Ban Reggaeton: Fight the Real Enemy of Hip-Hop,” makes one wonder how exactly -snide and enigmatic remarks aside – the perceived rivalry between hip-hop and reggaeton is informed by extramusical tensions between African Americans and Latinos.

—From the introduction to Reggaeton, edited by Raquel Z. Rivera, Wayne Marshall, and Deborah Pacini Hernandez