Sunday, June 8, 2008

My Introduction to Reggaeton

The area in which I live in CHICAGO is called the UKRAINIAN VILLAGE and is, as its name suggests, heavily populated by people from UKRAINE. A simple turn of a corner, though, and one steps from the border of the eastern European country right into SAN JUAN as the area on W DIVISION STREET around HUMBOLDT PARK is heavily populated with people of the ASSOCIATED FREE STATE OF PUERTO RICO. This living situation has introduced me, WALKER and WEST to a few different cultural experiences as we balance our grocery shopping between the Puerto Rican and Ukrainian-owned stores and observe people carrying out their everyday activities just as they would in their native countries.

This CROSS-CULTURAL IMMERSION has brought to my attention a few things, but one that I notice literally every day is the loud music protruding from cars on the Puerto Rican side of the neighborhood. It is not just any loud music, though; upon first listen I thought every single young person in the area was listening to DADDY YANKEE's 2004 smash hit, "Gasolina" (which it is, some of the time), but after repeat listenings, the songs are noticeably different. I briefly discussed the mystery songs with WALKER and decided to look into this music that is obviously popular with the Puerto Ricans in my neighborhood. Now, I am not one who is at all well-versed in REGGAETON, but after some investigation I have learned that this is the music the resonates so often from the passing, Puerto-Rican-helmed cars.

Through my (at this point very superficial) research I have learned that the reason the songs sound very much alike is because most modern REGGAETON music utilizes a beat called "DEM BOW," which is characterized by heavy reliance on the snare drum. This RIDDIM was first pioneered by BOBBY "DIGITAL" DIXON and became popular through the dancehall artist, SHABBA RANKS' 1991 song "DEM BOW." The beat was not originally characterized as REGGAETON, but was quickly adapted as a staple in the burgeoning genre.

What interests me the most is the above-observed fact that this "DEM BOW" RIDDIM started as a Jamaican dancehall song and was then adapted to basically form and ENTIRE GENRE OF MUSIC. Maybe I am misunderstanding this whole Latin American pop phenomenon, but it has definitely peaked my interest and when I finally begin my job and make some money, I plan to delve into this musical style more in-depth than simply hearing DOPPLER-EFFECT-TINGED snippets from passing cars.

Hopefully there is more to come on my venture into the world of Puerto Rican pop culture.


andy said...

My neighborhood has a LOT of Puerto Ricans aswell AND we have a Division Avenue (weird, huh?). They do listen to some Reagaeton here, but mostly mainstream rap such as my neighbors who blares Hot 97 from their window all day every weekend. This also reminds me of our conversation about the limitations of the dubstep rhythms.

scorps said...

heather and i became obsessed with reggaeton last summer while driving up the east coast. found an all reggaeton station and then upon arrival to ny begged my friend sam to help us find a reggaeton club. after little success with that we just listened to that station as long as we could down the turnpike.. it wasn't until this past spring while entering miami beach did we feel the happiness reggaeton brought to us the past summer. point being there is this whole in the east coast where reggaeton is just not there. and actually i don't even think thats my point, im not even sure i have one. just that hp and i really like reggaeton?

Anonymous said...

I really despise Daddy Yankee.