Thursday, May 03, 2007
From White to Mulata: The Darkening Powers of Reggaetón
Jowell & Randy have a song out called "Es Mala." Tito, a DJ and a student at Wesleyan University, has the following sharp, sharp observations to make:
Have u heard the song "Mala Es" by Jowell & Randy off of Don Omar's "El Pentagono" ? It's definitely worthy of discussion... Here a some of the lyrics:
"niña niña niña blancaa..
te ponen reggaeton y cambia a mulata
niña niña niña niña blancaa..
te ponen reggaeton y cambia a mulata
tu eres bien mala , bien mala
se te nota en la cara
tu eres bien mala
y cmo el diablo mala ati se te nota en la cara
yo soy el que te motivo la falda
mirandote bien con esa falda blanca
tu estas dura sin duda y que nalga
mai tu me mata
esta noche yo te cambio de blanca a mulata ma"
Seems as if all the desired Women in Reggaeton are "mulattas" or in this case all Women are simply transformed into mulattas as a result of the dembow. Seems to me that Reggaeotn's attitude towards Women is increasingly not only sexualized, but also racialzed.
I sent the song to you via e-mail. I think that Reggaeton follows the narrative of the "mulatta" lust found in other genres, but I find that Reggaeton in comparison to other genres is becoming more & more explicitally sexually. Whereas before artists might have used a code word or some type of other word to maybe dumb-down their true sexualized & demeaning lyrics, artists are now becoming more & more direct, vulgar, & explicit. Even something as simple as going from saying "amor" to "sexo" makes the angle more sexualized for Reggaeton. Not to mention that "perreo" is a term derived from animals & is directly related to sex, so I think Reggaeton comprises a sexual culture to it, that is to say, that to listen & like reggaeton is somewhat naughty or sexual for a female & empowering & dominating for males. I think the "mulatta" is the idealized woman in reggaeton & this is evident from the music videos to artists simply sayin "ay mulatta" etc. in their songs. The issue for me is that when you take a musical genre that in my opinion is viewed as & is very sexualized & attach notions of race to it you you create a racialized & sexualized "subject" in those you are portraying & seeing as Women have very little agency in the Reggaeton world, this representation is pretty much upheld in PR society both on the island & in the states.
I think reggaeton has been raunchy & explicity all along, but I think the lyrics have reverted back to the "Reggeaton Sex" days of Underground. I think that "raunchiness" & degradation have become more mainstream & therefore are seen as less scandalous & more acceptable to society, so I think it has questioned our value as a community. The fact that Reggaeton outright refers to sexual references & acts & is accepted as mainstream Puerto Rican culture posing an interesting cultural issue for me. Now you can go to Puerto Rico and see young girls singing "dame con el palo, " & they're parents paying no mind to it, which I think is crazy. In the beginning of Reggaeton I found the lyrics to be much more raunchy, violent, & drug-related. Then maistream Reggaeton came along, switched the "sexo" to "amor" & the "nenas" to "gatas." I think these sudle changes in language allowed Reggaeton to be more successful in the mainstream, but now a lot of artists are moving back to the original lyrics because they already have a stable fan base. I mean, look at someone like Tony Dize, if you translated osme of his songs into english, they could put even 50 Cent to shame with the blatant sexual references & degradation of women.
Thank you so much, Tito, for sharing your thoughts.
I'm wondering: What do other folks think?