Friday, August 29, 2008

Fat Joe Calls Daddy Yankee a Sellout for Endorsing McCain

MTV reported yesterday that Fat Joe said via a phone interview from Denver, where he was attending the Democratic National Convention:

"I opened the newspaper and got sick to my stomach[...]. I felt like I wanted to vomit when I seen that. The reason why I called [Daddy Yankee] a sellout is because I feel he did that for a [publicity] look, rather than the issues that are affecting his people that look up to him. How could you want John McCain in office when George Bush and the Republicans already have half a million people losing their homes in foreclosure? We're fighting an unjust war. It's the Latinos and black kids up in the frontlines, fighting that war. ... We over here trying to take the troops out of Iraq and bring peace. This guy immediately wants war. If not with Iraq or Afghanistan, he'll start a new one with Iran. I feel real disgusted that Daddy Yankee would do that. Either he did that for a look, or he's just not educated on politics."

"Like I said, with me, my whole philosophy on blacks and Latinos is: We're all one[...] We're in the same ghettos, same inner cities, and we're suffering from the same problems. Every problem the blacks have, the Latinos have. There's two systems of health care: the one for the rich that's really good, then there's the one for the inner city, where they leave ladies in the emergency room unattended for 24 hours until they drop dead. ... People don't even check on her hours after she's dead. This is normal stuff. This is what's happening in the U.S."

"Why should my man Daddy Yankee be endorsing McCain? This is the only urban guy in the universe to endorse John McCain. You got people who look up to [Yankee] — young teenagers that look up to him and might make the wrong choice. John McCain is the wrong thing to do. I don't think the Republicans care much about minorities. I can't believe [Yankee] went and endorsed this guy."

I have to say: I don't think I ever heard Fat Joe make so much sense.

Oh, and on rumors that Daddy Yankee tried endorsing Obama first, but was turned down by the Obama campaign, check: El Nuevo Día, Fox News, and Blabbeando.

And one more thing about the ironies of these debates: Puerto Ricans residing in Puerto Rico may be U.S. citizens but they can't vote in presidential elections. For a classist but witty take on this by fake news outlet El Ñame (kinda like The Onion, but starchy), check the post: "Daddy Yankee Endosa a McCain; Cacos Ya Saben Por Quién NO Podrán Ir a Votar". Now in Inglich: "Daddy Yankee Endorses McCain; Thugs Now Know Who They WON'T Be Able to Vote For."

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Not all Latinos Support Abuelo Yankee

O.k., so Daddy Yankee announced this week that he supports Abuelo Yankee John McCain. (Witticism courtesy of poet/scholar Urayoán Noel.") (Further commentary on the endorsement by Marisol LeBron, Blabbeando and El Nuevo Día.)

Somehow, with all that back and forth of commentary on yesterday's blog post, I forgot one important detail. With all this discussion about Daddy Yankee and reggaeton's conservative potential and Latinos having anti-black tendencies... I forgot reggaetoneros/raperos Don Omar and Julio Voltio (among plenty of other Latino artists) endorsed Obama.

So we do have to be critical of the knee-jerk anti-blackness of many self-identified Latinos. But we also have to keep in mind those Latinos that have decided to support the Obama campaign. Lets take this video as an example: Alejandro Sanz, Paulina Rubio, John Leguizamo, Jessica Alba, Kate del Castillo, Cucu Diamantes (Yerba Buena), Pedro Martinez (Yerba Buena), Andres Levin (Yerba Buena), George Lopez, Luis Guzman, Don Omar, Voltio, Lila Downs, Lin Manuel Miranda, Frankie Needles, Huey Dunbar, Nydia Caro, Ivonne Caro Caro, Brazilian Girls, Carlos Marín and family, Carola Gonzalez, Viva Nativa, Jose Alberti...

Please lets not make Daddy Yankee more of a posterboy than he already is!

On a related note, I found Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez's good critical take on a New York Times story on Obama and the Latino vote. "There are many things to admire about the New York Times. A complex and nuanced understanding of the vast diversity of Latino America is not among those things.[...] The sloppy, inaccurate story goes on for 32 agonizing paragraphs, using the terms 'black' and 'Latino' as though they were mutually exclusive – which they are not. Historians estimate that 95 percent of the African slave trade to the Americas took place in Latin America. [...] The story also erroneously portrays Latinos as a race unto themselves - an error egregious enough to be stated in our own census bureau's definition of Hispanic as a person 'of any race'. Including 'black'." And she writes plenty of other good stuff.

And one more thing, my little brother asked (after reading yesterday's blog) what I thought, in a nutshell, about all these political/electoral debates: "de ke se trata eso? ke piensas de eso?" So let me just say...

bueno, ya tu sabes: yo soy del Partido Contra los Cabrones. así que los políticos no son mi gente favorita. pero entre Obama y McCain, Obama es mejor por mucho. Bueno, quizás no por tanto, pero es que McCain es un verdadero espanto. McCain representa los intereses más anti-ecológicos, pro-guerra, pro-grandes negocios, pro-ricos, conservadores.

(well, you know: I'm from the Party Against the Cabrones [I don't have a good translation for that, sorry]. Politicians are not my favorite people.... but between Obama and McCain, Obama is better by far. Well, maybe not that far, but McCain is truly truly a nightmare. McCain represents the most anti-ecological, pro-war, pro-big business, pro-richfolks, conservative interests.)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Daddy Yankee Endorses John McCain

Well this all gives me a new perspective on that silly slogan in Puerto Rico calling for the youth vote: "Vota o quédate callao" (Vote or Shut Up).

Now that Daddy Yankee has decided to endorse McCain, all that rings through my mind is the second half: Quédate callao.

Check "Election Time WTF" and "Daddy Yankee Go Home" for a bit of scathing commentary. I'm looking forward to reading more. Let me know if you have or find any.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Straight Outta Puerto Rico: Reggaeton's Rough Road to Glory

Two years ago I was interviewed for a documentary about the rise of reggaeton in Puerto Rico. Well, it has finally been released.

Straight Outta Puerto Rico: Reggaeton’s Rough Road to Glory premiered on MUN2 last Thursday, July 31, 2008. It aired again Saturday, August 2. And, as of yesterday August 5th, the documentary is officially on sale.

The documentary may not be “the definitive story of reggaetón” (as the website claims), but it certainly seems to be the first large-scale, bona-fide documentary on the music genre. (And if you know of good documentaries on reggaeton that have not had mass media exposure, PLEASE let me know. I would love to spread the word.)

Sure, The Chosen Few: El Documental filled the void for quite a few years. But, lets be honest, as fascinating as much of the artists’ commentary was in that 2005 production, the effort was more of a hybrid documentary/infomercial than usual.

I really appreciate Straight Outta Puerto Rico’s emphasis on the social context out of which reggaeton came about in the 1990s in Puerto Rico. (Surprise, surprise—I’m a sociologist.) Of course, the interest this emphasis generates and the motives behind it are not just sociological/historical. This chosen focus also has a lot to do with the market appeal of a story featuring the drugs/money/violence bochinche factor.

The way that MUN2 promoted the documentary in was telling: “Drugs, Money, Reggaetón” was part of the title. And the preview clip that they chose to feature “explores why many early reggaetón artists' careers were funded by drug dealers.”

Visit page on mun2

Now, on to other stuff I liked about the documentary. Due credit is given to Jamaican and Panamanian reggae. But then the story concentrates on Puerto Rico, no apologies made. Good. I’m usually hyper-sensitive to folks that claim that reggaeton is ONLY Puerto Rican. I’m just as hyper-sensitive to folks that claim that reggaeton IS NOT Puerto Rican. It’s a tired, heated, stale debate that I hope dies a quick and spectacular death. But this documentary does not go to either extreme. What a relief!

I may be no expert in camera work, but I found quite a few shots looking cheapy and/or sloppy. And the news footage featuring dead bodies and bloody survivors struck me as overdone.

I asked filmmaker Frances Negrón-Muntaner (and my co-author for a NACLA journal article we titled “Reggaeton Nation”) for her impressions of the documentary in a nutshell. She writes: “Straight Outta Puerto Rico glosses over all of the hot button issues that come with reggaeton: poverty, racism, and misogyny. But like reggaeton itself, the film beats to the idea that there's more to music that meets the ear, and that finding out where music comes from is a vital way to make sense of ourselves and the world.”

Straight Outta Puerto Rico actually coincides with many of the points Frances and I made in the NACLA journal article. But it is so extremely powerful to see the stories and analysis right from the artists' mouths. And even better is to see the old music footage featuring Vico C, Ranking Stone, Chezina and many more artists. This documentary definitely includes some amazing historical gems!