Thursday, June 26, 2008

Reggaeton's Place in Modern Music

As discussed in my BLOG POST about REGGAETON, my surroundings have piqued my interest in this Latin America genre. I would still consider my research on the subject to be very superficial, but today I was reading about REGGAETON as compared to LATIN HIP-HOP, two genres which before I had considered to be synonymous with one another. The WIKIPEDIA article which I have been reading, though, begs to differ. REGGAETON has apparently garnered many comparisons to HIP-HOP and RAP music because the words are, in fact, rapped, and not sung. The article states that the only real difference between the two is that reggaeton beats are influenced by genres like REGGAE and DANCEHALL while true Latin hip-hop more resembles MAIN-STREAM HIP-HOP.

The idea that the only characteristic that keeps reggaeton from turning into hip-hop is the "DEM BOW" beat brings up the question of how this genre came to stand on its own in the first place. It seems as though reggaeton would just fall under the umbrella of LATIN AMERICAN HIP-HOP rather than be considered a completely different entity. I do not mean to question the artistic integrity of this genre, but only to inquire about the line that this music straddles and what actually has change to create an entirely new genre of music.

Let us consider two songs outside of the Latin pop world in which the vocal patterns are similar, but the instrumentation is obviously different: ever since hearing both of these songs I have considered BOB DYLAN's "LIKE A ROLLING STONE" and LOVE's "BUMMER IN THE SUMMER" to endorse very similar lyricism and intonation; not in subject matter, mind you, but simply in the way that ARTHUR LEE and DYLAN emphasize and sing the words. The music behind each song is obviously very different (I wish I could insert mp3s of each, but, alas, I do not know how). Sure, they both endorse the standard rock and roll set up of guitar, bass, drums and piano, but it would be very difficult to confuse the two if they were played as instrumental tracks. Now, I ask, would one really create different genres under which to categorize these songs? As another example: THE POLICE are noted for their influence of reggae, but does that really remove them from the genres of pop or rock and roll?

Let us view another example in the form of the DIWALI RIDDIM, a DANCEHALL rhythm that uses syncopated clapping and is named for its BOLLYWOOD influence. This RIDDIM is present in SEAN PAUL's 2003 single, "GET BUSY," a song that brought DANCEHALL to the attention of many. It was not long, though, before this RIDDIM showed up in other popular songs like LUMIDEE's "NEVER LEAVE YOU (UH OOOH, UH OOOH) and MISSY ELLIOT's "PASS THAT DUTCH".

As all of these artists continue to draw similar influences, the line becomes thinner among all of these urban styles that are indigenous to various regions of the world.

With all of these styles starting to share similar RIDDIMs and hip-hop artists continuing to collaborate with reggaeton artists like DADDY YANKEE, are Latin American hip-hop, main-stream hip-hop and reggaeton becoming increasingly similar and will they soon form one homogenous, all-encompassing melting pot (pictured) of a genre? I have often had trouble with the idea of categorizing everything into specific genres, and this question only gives rise to other ones. POPULAR MUSIC is a very broad way to discuss modern music and I realize that some differentiation is helpful, but this reggaeton and Latin American hip-hop classification is really making my head spin.

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