Tuesday, December 29, 2009

El reggaetón ya está en la academia pero [...]

Me complazco en compartir un artículo reciente sobre nuestro libro Reggaeton. Lo escribió Eduardo Corrales para www.iblnews.com. Corrales es de los pocos periodistas que se ha tomado la molestia de leer el libro y escuchar mis planteamientos con detenimiento. ¡Gracias Eduardo!

Raquel Z. Rivera: El reggaetón ya está en la academia pero todavia demanda una mayor exploración
26/12/2009 - 17:42

Para leer el artículo completo, haga click aquí.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Nación reggaetón (Nueva Sociedad no. 223)

La revista Nueva Sociedad de Argentina (no. 223) acaba de publicar el ensayo "Nación reggaetón" que co-escribí con Frances Negrón-Muntaner. ¡Aprovechen, que el artículo se puede descargar GRATIS! Es una versión traducida y actualizada del artículo "Reggaeton Nation" que publicamos en la revista de NACLA.

Aquí un resumen del artículo:

Nacido en los barrios pobres de Puerto Rico, el reggaetón fue combatido en sus inicios, acusado de corruptor y de promover el perreo, un baile considerado soez. Pero con el tiempo se ha ido expandiendo y sofisticando hasta convertirse en un éxito mundial y en el principal producto de exportación musical de Puerto Rico. El género pone en evidencia la centralidad de las diásporas africanas en la cultura local y sugiere que lo local está compuesto de culturas globalizadas.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Ivy Queen vs. Victoria Sanabria

Finally! A Trovatón episode that I've actually enjoyed and hasn't made me squirm. I usually suffer an acute case of "pena ajena" (feeling ashamed for somebody else) because the trovadores tend to leave the reggaetoneros in the dust. But, I have to admit, sometimes it's been the trovadores that make their own selves look bad. Plus those disrespectful low blows from either side also kill any potential joy for me.

But this episode had plenty of respect flowing from both sides. Victoria held her own when she rapped. And Ivy Queen sang jíbaro style and did pretty good, though not holding herself tightly to the complicated constraints of the décima. I wonder if the loose interpretation was on purpose or if its just that improvising in true décima style was beyond Ivy's means. Whatever the case may be, much respect to both these women.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Friday, October 09, 2009

Afro-Dominicana: Music from the Other Dominican Republic

A few months ago I blogged about "Regaeton Roundup" on the AfroPop Worldwide radio show. Well, AfroPop just came out with a groundbreaking new program titled Afro-Dominicana: Music from the Other Dominican Republic.

While Afro-Cuban and Afro-Brazilian traditions get a lot of shine on the world stage, and Afro-Puerto Rican traditions have been getting a bit more shine recently, the celebration of Afro-Dominican music and culture has been notably lagging behind.

A few years back reggaeton/hip-hop group Del Patio did a collaboration with Ilú Ayé titled "Lo palo." Ilú Ayé, as usual, did a great job. And I was happy to see an urban music group like Del Patio link themselves to Dominican roots music through their collaboration with Ilú Ayé. I won't say much about the many reasons why I think that production left a lot to be desired. Judge for yourself. I'll just say I'm not feeling the use of Afro-Dominican music as a splash of color on otherwise drab and cliché urban music formulas.

What I'm hoping is that shows like AfroPop's Afro-Dominicana: Music from the Other Dominican Republic and the Quijombo Festival this week in the Bronx and the Afro-Dominican drumming/dance classes organized by The Legacy Circle in Harlem will motivate and challenge urban music artists to do excellent and inspired productions that draw from the roots.

Here's a plug for an artist that does an amazing job at fusing urban and roots music: Rita Indiana. Ok, so Rita might not be primarily a hip-hop or reggaeton artist but she definitely draws from that type of urban music. She's one of the artists featured on AfroPop's Afro-Dominicana show. Here's one of her songs, "Encendía," from her earlier work as part of the duo Miti Miti.

And a more recent song, as frontwoman of Rita Indiana y Los Misterios, titled "El Blu del Pin Pon."

Not that Rita holds all the answers. But she definitely has a great one.

Found two more, for good measure: dembow and palos inflected to boot!

I can't say enough about the lyrics. How can that childhood tale of sharing in "Da pa lo do" be so tender, heartwrenching and hilarious at once?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

When Hip-Hop and Reggaeton Collide

Check out Allison Desir's piece "When Hip-Hop and Reggaeton Collide" in The Mantle: A Forum for Progressive Critique. The article pays close attention to issues of race and ethnicity, and features interviews with music industry executives. Plenty of fascinating stuff here!

Friday, September 04, 2009

Parodiando la cultura urbana latina

Tato Torres just posted this on my FaceBook page:

And this is the conversation that followed:

Raquel Z. Rivera
Annoying, smug and misinformed... yes. And at the same time I had to laugh out loud a few times. It also had a few witty moments. I can't help thinking how we ("Latinos" in the US, urban music artists and fans...) leave ourselves open to this kind of caricature for falling into cliches... por cabezones.

Tato Torres Sáez
It is exactly the point he is making, he very clearly and cleverly states in the beggining: "por suerte hay hermanos latinoamericanos viviendo en NY... y gracias entonces a nuestros hermanos anglosajones en los EEUU que toman de ellos la cultura latina, la embasan y la difunden poco a poco hoy en nuestros barrios, podemos ver lo latino presente..."

yet you gotta love the "perreo simulator" LOL

"mi verdadero nombre es Mariano Grumberg Hollester Junguersen Smith, pero soy Latino" ¡JA!

Raquel Z. Rivera
Wow... I somehow missed the "la envasan y la difunden poco a poco hoy en nuestros barrios" criticism. Now I like this even more. I initially thought it was a simplistic caricature. But now I see it's more. And, yes, the perreo simulator was one of my favorite parts. And also the "papá cómprame las zapatillas blancas" bit.

Tato Torres Sáez
exactly!.. the guy is geniusly making a joke about the commercially distributed "packaged" generic concept of "Latinos," which is obviously formed on a stereotypical "Nuyorican" image.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Reggaeton as MTV-grade Pop

Wisín and Yandel's "Abusadora" is nominated for an MTV Video Music Award in the best pop video category. The other nominees are: Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Cobra Starship and Britney Spears. Hhmmm...

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think a reggaeton or Latino urban music act has been nominated to the SAME category (in one of these big deal awards) as pop megastars like Britney and the others. Right? In that case, while no reggaeton song has ever matched the ubiquity of "Gasolina," this nomination seems like yet another type of milestone for reggaeton.

I know... I know... "Abusadora" is dembow-less, so is it still reggaeton?

But while we try to figure that one out, Entertainment Weekly's Simon Vozick-Levinson celebrates the nomination as a "welcome (if unexpected) step toward breaking down genre barriers," adding, "as far as I’m concerned, labels like 'pop' and 'reggaeton' confuse more than they enlighten, anyway."

So as he celebrates the breaking-down of barriers, Vozick-Levinson is still calling it reggaeton.

Marisol has the following to add: "Of course depending on how people view this nomination, this might only lend credence to the claim that reggaeton is dead."

Monday, August 03, 2009

How can "she" be dead?

Hey Raquel,

Hope all is well. A friend sent me the new Joell Ortiz song on Hip Hop dying and I thought about you. Creo que lo que dice aplica al Reggeaton tambien...no se si algun reggaetonero ha escrito sobre "la muerte anunciada" del reggeaton. Dejame saber si sabes de alguna cancion.

(Roxanna García González)

Wow... thanks so much for this link.

"How can she be dead when she's a spirit?" BEAUTIFUL!

I haven't seen the equivalent of these types of songs in reggaeton. Just statements by artists.

Again, thank you!
(Raquel Z. Rivera)

Friday, July 31, 2009

Reggaeton Roundup on AfroPop Worldwide

AfroPop Worldwide just made available a streaming version of their recent program on reggaeton history titled Reggaeton Roundup. It will stay online only for a couple of months, so check it out before they take it off.

The show is a great trip down memory lane and I'm pleased to say it does not focus on the same old, same old!

The show opens up with one of my favorite urban music tracks ever "Ni fú ni fá" by Tego Calderón (which should have won that Grammy); goes through classic Jamaican dancehall tracks like "Bam Bam"; weaves together early 90s reggae en español, rap en español, merenrap and underground tracks by El General, Vico C, Lisa M, Three Gangstas, Gringo and Baby Rasta, Daddy Yankee and Ivy Queen; goes on great sidetracks like discussing Brazilian baile funk and its connections to Miami bass; and features dembow-less songs like La Sista's "Yemayá" and Calle 13's "La Jirafa" that still retain reggaeton's swaying hip-grinding effect; among many other welcome and unexpected musical highlights.

Omar García's interview, interspersed throughout the show, provides a great narrative thread by an artist who became an underground star at 14 years old (O.G.M. of underground fame) and is today an eclectic and insightful rapper/singersongwriter who draws from hip-hop, trip-hop, trova and rock, among other sources. The show also has Residente Calle 13 making some provocative statements (surprise, surprise).

Also, check field producer Marlon Bishop's narrative on reggaeton and his anecdotes from his trip to Puerto Rico while working on the show. It has great quotes from Dulce Coco, Tatá and Welmo that do not appear on the show.

Also, for folks in Puerto Rico (or not), the program will be airing on Radio Universidad WRTU on the program "Rumba Africana", on Sat Aug. 8 and Tues Aug. 11. If you're not in Puerto Rico, you can still listen to the show via internet.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Is it still reggaeton?

According to mun2's 18 and over countdown host Guadalupe, "reggaeton" has taken over their show. (At least the episode I was watching yesterday, Saturday July 25th.)

Don Omar, Franco El Gorila, RKM & Ken-Y, Tito El Bambino, Alexis & Fido and Wisín & Yandel were the artists on the countdown that Guadalupe mentioned to prove his point. Interesting: none of those artists' songs on the countdown feature the dembow rhythm that originally gave the genre its name. But Guadalupe still called the genre they make "reggaeton." And as further proof that "reggaeton" just keeps getting bigger, he mentioned how the Merriam-Webster dictionary just added an entry for "reggaeton."

So, if people insist on calling it reggaeton, is it still reggaeton?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

July 17: Estilo Hip-Hop and Reggaeton at B&N

JULY 17, 7:00 PM

Estilo Hip-Hop and Reggaeton double feature:
screening, book presentation and dialogue

I have the honor of presenting the book I just co-edited titled Reggaeton (Duke University Press, 2009) alongside the documentary Estilo Hip-Hop on Friday, July 17, 2009 at 7 PM. The event is part of a series organized by the Latino Artists Round Table at the Barnes & Noble at Lincoln Triangle (66 Street and Broadway).

Estilo Hip-Hop is a powerful documentary that chronicles the lives of three hip-hop enthusiasts from Chile, Cuba and Brazil, focusing on the ways that art and youth politics connect. It first aired nationally on Global Voices on PBS WORLD, Sunday June 28, 2009. For upcoming showtimes, check www.estilohiphop.net. Here's the trailer:

ESTILO HIP HOP Trailer from 1SOULDESIGNS on Vimeo.

Reggaeton is the anthology I co-edited with Wayne Marshall and Deborah Pacini Hernandez that explores reggaeton’s local roots and its transnational dissemination. The book also discusses the genre’s aesthetics, particularly in relation to those of hip-hop and reggae; and explores the debates about race, nation, gender, and sexuality generated by the music and its associated cultural practices.

From hip-hop to reggaeton, this July 17th event will be devoted to Latin American and Latino youth culture, popular music, politics and education.

I am extremely happy that my co-presenters that night will be the Estilo Hip-Hop directors, Loira Limbal and Vee Bravo, fellow beat junkies who love music just as much as they love the dreams of freedom that music can inspire.

Plus I just found out that the visual artist responsible for Reggaeton's platinum plátano cover, Miguel Luciano, will be joining us as well!

Monday, July 13, 2009

"Reggaeton" in Merriam-Webster Dictionary

I found out this weekend from a FaceBook note by Nuyorican poet and educator Mariposa that "reggaeton" was added to the 2009 updated version of the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. To read Mariposa's note click on her FaceBook link or read below.

In turn, she found out the news through a FaceBook post by Lance Rios of Being Latino. Check the comments to his post. They're a great example of how the conversation around reggaeton tends to stay at the love the music / hate the music level. That's what I like so much about Mariposa's take on it: she goes beyond the love it / hate it dichotomy.

The first thing that struck me about the news is that "reggaeton" made it into this English-language dictionary before it made it into the Diccionario de La Real Academia Española. Neither "reggaetón" nor "reguetón" has made it into the RAE dictionary yet. Hhhmmmm... So if the Solo Para Reggaeton folks are pissed at Merriam-Webster for (among other things) taking so long to include "reggaeton" in their dictionary, I can only imagine what they'll say about the Real Academia Española.

Here's the Merriam-Webster dictionary entry:

\ˌre-gā-ˈtōn, ˌrā-\
American Spanish reggaetón, from reggae reggae + -ton (as in Spanish maratón marathon)

: popular music of Puerto Rican origin that combines rap with Caribbean rhythms

And here's Mariposa's post:

Toast of Recognition to Reggaeton
by Mariposa

The word REGGAETON was recently added to the American Merriam-Webster Dictionary which is highly significant. It is no easy feat to create a word that makes the dictionary. It has to be a word that deeply permeates American culture in usage, meaning and context, often times through literature and music. Language is created and re-invented every day. And language shapes and creates our reality. Language is the essence of our experience. It’s derived from it and it creates it; from language springs everything.

Whether you like the music form or not, take this as an opportunity to pay attention. Pay attention to exactly how powerful we are. There are many other words that can be found in Webster’s Dictionary that are evidence of our presence and power. Yes, the word Spanglish can be found in Webster’s, as well as Latino, Latina, Chicano, Chicana and Tejano. Nuyorican was added to Webster’s about 4 years ago. The addition of the words, Chicana/o and Nuyorican can be attributed in part to the influence of the Chicano/Tejano, and Nuyorican poetry movements, specifically the work of Pedro Pietri, Miguel Piñero, Jesus Papoleto Melendez, Jose Montoya, Alurista, Raul Salinas, Cherrie L. Moraga, Sandra María Esteves, Aurora Levins Morales, Magdalena Gomez and countless others.

Other words that have made it to Webster’s that reflect our contribution to music, dance and our influence in shaping the American cultural landscape are: Salsa, Merengue and Rumba. For all you Bachata lovers…Sorry! The word has not yet made it to Websters Dictionary. Neither has Cumbia, Bomba or Plena.

Like it or not Reggaeton is here to stay. We are more than a decade deep in the Reggaeton timeline. People thought Reggaethon was just a fad that would fizzle out but it went global a long time ago. Like Hip Hop, Reggaeton is popular as far away as Japan. It shows the power of our presence as Latinos in the United States; the power to influence not only American Pop Culture but Global Pop Culture and the ability to create new industries. We have the power to make phenomenal things happen. The question is what we do with that power.

If you are a fan of Reggaeton, you have reason to celebrate the music genre making it to Webster’s Dictionary. If you're not a fan, keep in mind that celebrating does not necessarily mean condoning the materialism, sexism, misogyny and negative content found in many (but not all) Reggaeton songs and videos. There are artists who defy the negative stereotypes like Calle 13, whose political and lyrical genius cannot be easily dismissed and demonstrate the potential of Reggaeton to create social change as well as entertain.

Making it to Webster's is an accomplishment that is quite phenomenal. It only took Reggaeton about a decade to make Webster's unlike many of the words mentioned . This is definitely something to give props to, respect, be proud of and yes, celebrate! Reggaeton is a reflection of who we are as Latinos -- multifaceted and something that cannot be generalized, simplified or put in a box. I encourage people to check out the new book Reggaeton by Raquel Z. Rivera, Wayne Marshall and Deborah Pacini Hernandez.

I also encourage people to go to http://www.merriam-webster.com/ and look up what Webster has to say on the meanings and etymology of the words mentioned and the years the words came into play in the United States. It’s fascinating. Maybe you’ll find words that I didn’t that also speak to our collective power. No matter what you think about Reggaeton or it making it to Webster’s Dictionary, BEING LATINO IS BEING POWERFUL. WORD!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Sofia's Gatas / Las gatas de Sofía

I'm a fan of Sofía Maldonado's artwork, particularly of her series of "nenas." I'm fascinated by how loud, eerie and beautiful Sofia's nenas are. She recently kicked it up a notch with the "gatas" she painted in Santurce, PR... and that were painted over soon after. As she writes in a July 7, 2009 blog post: "There's no trace left of these girls probably because they were 'so explicit'."

Sofia describes her work as "a blend of fashion trends, the Latina female aesthetic and various street culture elements, such as skateboarding, graffiti, public art, reggaeton and punk music."

Sofía's sexually explicit work has me thinking about gender, sex, power and urban music(s), including reggaeton. More on this, soon.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Reggaeton as "Further proof Mexicans hate black people"

When you read Byron Crawford's blog post about our Reggaeton book (a post he titled "Further proof Mexicans hate black people"), please keep in mind he is a prankster who loves to dig his finger in people's wounds.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Reggaeton on Racialicious.com

Our Reggaeton book has sparked a conversation on race, reggaeton and hip-hop over at Racialicious.com.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Vivito & perreando in Cuba: English version

And as we ponder the “reggaeton crash,” today on Reuters: “Reggaeton fever shakes up Cuba’s culture.” Here's the photo that accompanied the article:

Vivito & perreando en Cuba: versión en español

Mientras pensamos sobre esto de la "caída" o "la muerte" del reguetón, ayer publicó Reuters "La fiebre del reguetón sacude a la Isla", refiriéndose a Cuba. Aquí la foto que acompaña el artículo:

Ya que el artículo me cita, a continuación la conversación electrónica completa que tuve con el periodista que escribió el artículo de Reuters, Esteban Israel:

Esteban Israel: es normal que el establishment rechace al reggaeton? que es lo que tanto molesta a las autoridades cubanas, en tu opinión?

Raquel Z. Rivera: No es de sorprender que el "establishment" rechace el reggaeton. Esas mismas preocupaciones en cuanto al "deterioro de los valores tradicionales" la han tenido (y la tienen) las autoridades, los educadores, los padres etc. en Puerto Rico, República Dominicana y otros países latinoamericanos en cuanto al reggaetón. En Jamaica, el dancehall reggae recientemente y ya por muchos años ha sido objeto de una agria controversia en cuanto a lo mismo. Menciono al reggaetón y al dancehall reggae primero porque son parte de la cultura popular contemporánea, no son muy antiguos y son muy parecidos entre sí. Pero géneros anteriores como la rumba, la salsa, la bomba, la danza, el jazz, la samba... todos fueron muy criticados en su momento y las autoridades usaron muchos de los mismos argumentos. Mira el excelente artículo de Brenda Hopkins Miranda que da una idea de todos esos debates anteriores.

Las autoridades cubanas están molestas por las mismas razones que las autoridades en otros países: el reggaetón (y el dancehall reggae) tiende a ser hiper-sexual (en sus letras y baile) y a glorificar el consumismo y la moda. Claro en un país socialista como Cuba, el asunto del consumismo es aun más problemático para las autoridades. El "establishment" en esos países también ha criticado mucho el sexismo del reggaetón. Eso es bastante irónico considerando lo sexistas que son nuestras sociedades en general. El "establishment" es sexista. Los "valores tradicionales" son sexistas. Pero se critica al reggaetón somo si el reggaetón fuese una excepción. El reggaetón suele ser más vulgar y desfachatado, pero eso no lo hace más sexista.

Dicho sea de paso, esas mismas críticas son las que le hace el establishment en Estados Unidos al hip-hop. Estos géneros (reggaetón, dancehall reggae y reggaetón) comparten muchas características en común ya que son todos parte de la facción "urbana" dentro de la música pop.

Estoy de acuerdo con lo que te dijo el funcionario de que declararle la guerra al reggaetón sería un error. Si el ejemplo de Puerto Rico sirve de algo, es para ilustrar que los dos grandes intentos de censurar o regular el reggaetón (1995 y 2002) lo que han generado es más popularidad para el género. Si quieres leer más sobre el caso de Puerto Rico en 2002, ve aquí.

Creo que el movimiento auto-denominado "hip-hop education movement" en Estados Unidos debería ser emulado por todas estas personas que están preocupadas por el monopolio que tiene el reggaetón sobre la juventud. Dentro de este movimiento hay artistas y educadores que son fanáticos y expertos del hip-hop (rap y otras artes) y se dedican a profundizar el conocimiento que tienen los jóvenes sobre el hip-hop, y también utilizan el hip-hop como punto de entrada para interesar a los jóvenes en otros géneros musicales y en otras cosas como la historia, la literatura y el activismo social. Parte importante de este movimiento de educación hip-hop son los educadores y padres y activistas a quienes quizás no les gusta el hip-hop o no saben mucho de él, pero igual saben que se tienen que educar sobre el hip-hop si es que quieren comunicarse mejor con sus estudiantes. Emulando ese movimiento de educación hip-hop, las generaciones o personas no-reggaetónicas o anti-reggaetónicas podrían utilizar el reggaetón como un vehículo de comunicación con la juventud reggaetónica. Si queremos dialogar con la juventud, hay que demostrar respeto hacia ellos. Se puede y se debe criticar lo criticable del reggaetón, pero desde una perspectiva informada.

Me gusta la perspectiva del artículo "¿Te gusta o no te gusta el reggaetón?" que fue publicado el pasado abril en Claridad. Como dice Benjamín Muñiz, el autor del artículo, ¿porqué limitar la discusión sobre el reggaetón a si nos gusta o no nos gusta el reggaetón? Hay muchísimas otras cosas que decir sobre el reggaetón. Ese género además representa una oportunidad de diálogo inter-generacional.

Esteban Israel: ademas quisiera que me cuentes que tan rico/peculiar es el reggaeton cubano en el contexto regional.

Para mi, el reggaetón cubano tiene de rico lo mismo que el reggaetón en otros lugares tiene de rico: es una música que combina la llamada "música urbana" con tradiciones caribeñas mucho más antiguas... y lo más que ha atraído a sus fanáticos es que se presta para la fiesta y el baile sexualmente explícito.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

El reguetón ha muerto... de nuevo

Mi querido co-editor Wayne escribió en Tweeter el 19 de junio su opinión sobre la alegada muerte del reguetón:

En espanich: "el reguetón no ha muerto. ¿que cómo lo se (aparte de ese dembow que todavía suena)? lo que ha muerto no provoca debates tan acalorados."

Aquí varias opiniones recientes sobre el mismo asunto:

La entrevista de Willie Colón con el Nuevo Día, titulada "El reguetón se va a pique".

La respuesta de Tego Calderón (y otros) a Willie Colón, también en El Nuevo Día, titulada "Willie alborota el avispero".

Los posts de Gavin titulados "Can we Talk About the Reggaeton Crash?" y "Updates from Chicago's Puerto Rican Pride Festival."

Los posts de Marisol LeBron titulados "Reggaeton's White Hope and the 'Reggaeton Crash'" y "Romantiqueo Is Going Under."

El post de Wayne titulado "Can We Talk About 'Can We Talk About the Reggaeton Crash?'”

Y los comentarios a mi post "The Relevance of Reggaeton."

Me parece que están en lo cierto los observadores, como Wayne, que dicen que eso de que el reguetón ha muerto es una declaración prematura.

Pero vamos a considerar esta posibilidad por un momento... QUIZAS ahora sí es verdad que el reguetón está a punto de morir. (Claro, no olvidemos que mucha gente ha estado diciendo que está muerto desde hace más de una década... desde antes que se conociera por el nombre de reguetón.)

Lo primero que me viene a la mente al considerar la posibilidad de que el reguetón esté a punto de morir es la rareza de declarar como "muerto" a un género musical. ¿Es que la danza está muerta? ¿Es que la bomba está muerta? ¿El "Latin" freestyle? ¿La ópera?

Lo otro que me pone a pensar es... ¿porqué hay gente tan feliz ante la posibilidad de que el reguetón muera? ¿Es que es tanto mejor el que ahora estamos escuchando la misma fórmula verbal pero sobre un "beat" distinto? ¿Es que la música es mejor ahora que Flex está cantando canciones románticas sobre beats que no son dembow? ¿Es que la música es mejor ahora que Wisín & Yandel y Don Omar están usando música electro-pop en vez de dembow? ¿Es que la música es mejor ahora que algunos de los mismos artistas que se hicieron famosos como "reguetoneros" usan beats distintos y dicen que la música que hacen es "música urbana" en vez de reguetón?

Reggaeton Is Dead... Again

My dear co-editor Wayne Marshall tweeted earlier this month:

Here are plenty more recent thoughts on the issue:

Willie Colón's interview in El Nuevo Día.

Tego Calderón's (and others') reply to Willie Colón, also in El Nuevo Día.

Gavin's post "Can we Talk About the Reggaeton Crash?" and "Updates from Chicago's Puerto Rican Pride Festival."

Marisol's posts "Reggaeton's White Hope and the 'Reggaeton Crash'" and "Romantiqueo Is Going Under."

Wayne's post "Can We Talk About 'Can We Talk About the Reggaeton Crash?'”

And the comments to my post "The Relevance of Reggaeton."

O.k., so I side with the folks that say that pronouncing reggaeton dead at this point would be premature.

But lets consider this for a second... MAYBE now reggaeton is REALLY about to be "dead" soon—though lets keep in mind folks have been saying it's dead for over a decade... since before it took on the name reggaeton.

In considering the above, I'm struck by the bizarreness of pronouncing a genre dead. Is danza dead? Is bomba dead? Is "Latin" freestyle dead? Is opera dead?

Another thing that gets me thinking is... why are some folks so happy about the prospect of reggaeton's death? Is the same lyrical formula over a different beat any better? Is the music any better just because Flex is crooning over non-dembow beats? Is the music better because Wisín & Yandel and Don Omar are using electro-pop beats? Is the music any better because some of the same artists that made their name as "reggaetoneros" are using different beats and calling it "urban music" instead of reggaeton?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Reseña de mi capítulo en Reggaeton

El criminólogo Gary Gutiérrez escribió esta reseña sobre mi capítulo en el libro Reggaeton. Mi capítulo es un recorrido por aquellos años a mediados de la década de 1990 cuando el rap y el reggae "underground" se convirtieron en chivo expiatorio dentro de la llamada política de Mano Dura Contra el Crimen de la administración del entonces gobernador Pedro Roselló.

April 30, 2009

Reacción al escrito Policing Morality, Mano Dura Stylee:
The case of Underground Rap and reggae In Puerto Rico in the mid-1990s

Por Gary Gutiérrez

Si se le preguntara a cualquier persona en el mundo de las comunicaciones; ¿cuál es la clave del éxito de una producción?, es posible que entre las respuestas se encuentre el término anglo “timing”. Aún cuando no tiene traducción directa, el concepto implica estar en el momento adecuado en el lugar indicado.

Un buen “timing” parece ser el caso de la publicación del escrito Policing Morality, Mano Dura Stylee: The case of Underground Rap and reggae In Puerto Rico in the mid-1990s, de la Dra. Raquel Z. Rivera.

El trabajo de Rivera, se desarrolló en 1998 y resurge ahora, 10 años más tarde, cuando el gobierno colonial de la Isla anuncia que se propone regresar a las mismas técnicas punitivas y represivas que en la década de los 90s fallaron como respuesta al crimen y que en cierta medida se recogen en este artículo.

Precisamente esas políticas y los excesos represivos que pueden alcanzar las mismas, son la base de este excelente escrito, que documenta y analiza el proceso mediante el cual se intentó criminalizar la expresión artística y la estética de un sector de la juventud puertorriqueña.

Al leer el escrito, de inmediato viene a la mente los trabajos de un grupo de sociólogos que se hacen llamar criminólogos culturales y que desde la década de los 90s estudian el crimen como producto y productor de cultura. Esta visión criminológica es una tendencia que agrupa una amalgama de teorías sociológicas, entre las que se destacan el interaccionismo simbólico, el postmodernismo, y a la que se le unen los anarquistas, los neo marxistas, las feministas y demás críticos de la dominación legal y la injusticia social.

Según uno de sus fundadores, el Dr. Jeff Ferrel, la criminología Cultural no busca sintetizar estas teorías o métodos, sino que más bien pretende una conversación crítica entre estas visiones en búsqueda de la exploración de la cultura y la criminalidad. Estos criminólogos prestan atención a la variedad de culturas, aceptadas o criminalizadas, así como a la gama de significados y al control de las mismas por parte del Estado.

Se enfoca además en las construcciones mediáticas, tanto de las acciones desviadas como de los controles sociales para las mismas. De igual forma observa los símbolos de la sociedad urbana contemporánea y los patrones de inequidad y control social así como los miedos creados en torno a estos. En resumen, la criminología cultural parte de la premisa que la sociedad no criminaliza los comportamientos por las acciones mismas, lo que realmente se criminaliza es el “significado simbólico” de esas acciones.

Ante la cercanía entre las visiones de estos criminólogos y la forma en que la Dra. Rivera aborda el tema de la persecución y censura del Rap underground, parece lógico que usemos la misma como punto de partida para comentar el escrito.

El trabajo es una excelente documentación del proceso de creación y difusión de lo que el británico Stan Cohen llamó el “pánico moral”. La descripción del proceso de construcción de los músicos underground como desviados y el intento de reconstruir los mismos como criminales, es magistralmente desarrollado y constituye, a mi juicio, un trabajo que todo estudiante de criminología debe leer. El proceso que Rivera recoge en su escrito recuerda la forma en que en la década del 1930, otros empresarios morales construyeron la imagen “endemoniada” de los fumadores de marihuana. En aquella época, se la adjudico al cannabis las mismas propiedades de fomentar la violencia y la lujuria que según nos documenta Rivera, se le adjudicó en el 1990 al Rap y al Reggaetón. El resultado de aquel proceso de 1930 es la funesta criminalización de la planta y el costo económico millonario y de sangre, que todavía produce la misma.

Partiendo de lo completo del escrito, que incluye los conflictos en torno a la libertad de expresión, la violencia entre los jóvenes, la construcción del marginado como criminal, lo que más me interesó como criminólogo cultural, es la explicación sobre la persecución de esta forma de expresión. Rivera demuestra que la misma no se trataba de la prohibición del lenguaje, llamado vulgar, grosero, hostil o fuerte, ni mucho menos se trataba del acecho del contenido sexual de las letras de estas canciones.

Su construcción como acto desviado, no explica la Dra., se produjo cuando esta producción artística de los sectores sociales y racialmente marginados, comenzó a desbordándose a las capas más altas de la sociedad. Es decir ese discurso contestario de joven pobre, marginado, negro de caserío, que reconstruye y define poco a poco una nueva visón estética, es comprado poco a poco por los blanquitos, que ahora llamamos guainabitos.

De esta forma Rivera nos recuerda que el rap underground solo fue percibido como un problema, hasta que no salió de los sectores marginados y comenzó a popularizarse entre los sectores jóvenes de clases más privilegiadas.

Interesantemente, un proceso similar se dio con las sustancias psicoactivadoras durante la década del 1960, cuando los jóvenes que regresaban del conflicto en indochina, sacaron a la llamadas drogas de los guetos urbanos y la popularizaron en los sectores de clase media americana. Como el rap underground, para el “establishment”, las drogas se vieron con un problema, cuando las mismas se popularizaron entre los jóvenes de sectores pudientes y no mientras eran costumbres de los negros en el gueto.

Este proceso antes descrito es al que los criminólogos culturales nos referimos cuando decimos que una acción se criminaliza solo cuando el significado de la misma se ve como peligrosa al sistema.

Es decir, que no es la acción sino su sino su carga simbólica lo que se prohíbe. Mientras el underground o las drogas, se quedaban en la marginación del caserío o le gueto, al sistema no le preocupaba. A contrario, se podría decir que estas acción afirmaban la visión de que las razas marginadas son más débiles y más propensa a los vicios.

Pero, tan pronto el pegajoso ritmo o la droga pasa al llamado “main stream”, se convierten en símbolos de la influencia de esa cultura marginal sobre la cultura dominante. Esto, por supuesto, siempre es visto con recelo por parte de los últimos.

Por otra parte, sobre cómo la cultura dominada o marginada responde a la represión y persecución, la criminología cultural explica que ante esta situiación, los jóvenes de esos sectores marginados terminan adoptando esa misma estética, incluso la exageran, como forma de contestar simbólicamente al sistema. Ferrell en su libro Criminologia Cultural dice, “los estilos de las subculturas son para efecto de las autoridades, tanto una causa como efecto de la criminalidad; mientras que para los grupos marginados estos son símbolos de resistencia e invitación a que los controlen”.

En fin que el proceso descrito en este ensayo por la Dra. Raquel Z. Rivera, demuestra lo complejo que puede ser el choque estético y cultural entre los diversos grupos sociales. De igual forma deja claro lo burdo, simplista e irracional que puede ser la respuesta represiva del Estado ante estos conflictos. Sobre todo cuando el proceso está exacerbado por empresarios morales que levantan portaestandartes de intolerancia ante cualquier diversidad.

Por suerte en el caso descrito por la Dra. Rivera, los tribunales pusieron coto a la ridiculez de la persecución. Sin embargo no siempre se ha corrido la misma suerte. Por ejemplo, la construcción del uso de sustancias psicoactivadoras como un problema policiaco y no médico es producto de un proceso casi idéntico al descrito por la Dra Rivera, con la diferencia de que en el caso de las drogas, los tribunales “compraron” la definición y a casi un siglo del asunto, seguimos pagando el precio en sangre derramada en las calles.

Dra. Rivera, termino dándole las gracias por el recordatorio que su escrito nos trae, el mismo no podía llegar en mejor momento….

Monday, June 22, 2009

Why Marisol Studies Reggaeton

Check Marisol LeBrón's post "Why I Study Reggaeton." I can't wait to read more from her. By the way, her blog, Post Pomo Nuyorican Homo, was named one of the 100 best LGBT blogs by the Lesbian and Gay Foundation.

This is the graphic that accompanies her post:

In inglich: "This blog supports reggaeton."

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Relevance of Reggaeton - NPR show

This afternoon I was on WNYC (NPR) radio show Soundcheck discussing our book Reggaeton.

The comments folks have left on the WNYC webpage have left me wondering. Where we being flat out uncritical? It's such a tricky balance to achieve: to be critical but not to engage in simplistic bashing.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Mi entrevista en NY1 Noticias

Cliquea aquí para ver mi entrevista en NY1 Noticias que salió al aire hoy.

Click here to watch my interview on NY1 Noticias that aired today.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Un Diálogo... ¡hasta abajo!

"Un Diálogo... ¡hasta abajo!" is the title of my interview that appeared in the digital version of the University of Puerto Rico's newspaper Diálogo.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Cómo leer el reggaeton

Lo que sigue es el artículo que escribió el antropólogo Jorge Duany sobre nuestro libro Reggaeton en El Nuevo Día de hoy.

El Nuevo Día
Jorge Duany


Quién hubiera imaginado que aquel ritmo censurado y perseguido, entonces llamado “underground”, “dembow”, “melaza” y “reggae (o rap) en español”, se convertiría en la principal exportación musical de la Isla durante la primera década del siglo XXI. A principios de la década de 1990, la música circulaba clandestinamente, mediante grabaciones caseras que se reproducían en clubes nocturnos y “fiestas de marquesina” en arrabales y caseríos.

En febrero de 1995, el Escuadrón de Control del Vicio de la Policía realizó una redada en varias tiendas de discos de San Juan que vendían música “underground”, porque ésta supuestamente incitaba al sexo, a la violencia y al uso de drogas ilegales. En mayo de 2002, el Senado de Puerto Rico celebró unas vistas públicas, presididas por Velda González, en torno al “perreo”, el baile asociado al “underground”. Allí se denunció el contenido “indecente” y “pornográfico” de las letras de las canciones, las imágenes de los vídeos y el escándalo de bailar frotándose la parte trasera con otros cuerpos. Irónicamente, esa campaña de pánicos morales aumentó la popularidad de las prácticas musicales conocidas actualmente como “reggaetón”.

El admirable libro “Reggaeton”, editado por Raquel Z. Rivera, Wayne Marshall y Deborah Pacini Hernández (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2009), nos convoca a “leer” cuidadosamente este extraordinario fenómeno musical y social de nuestros tiempos. Como plantea Juan Flores en su prólogo, se trata quizás de la primera música verdaderamente transnacional o diaspórica. El “reggaetón” no puede trazarse a un solo punto de origen, como Jamaica, Panamá, Puerto Rico o Nueva York, como tampoco puede identificarse exclusivamente con un público latinoamericano, antillano o latino. Más bien, este género híbrido es un producto de la incesante circulación de personas, mercancías, prácticas e identidades entre el Caribe y Norteamérica.

Los autores reunidos en este volumen documentan extensamente el cruce de fronteras geográficas, raciales, étnicas y lingüísticas, catalogado como “crossover” en la industria musical. Entre las múltiples influencias del “reggaetón”, se destacan el “reggae” jamaiquino, especialmente el “dancehall”; el “reggae” en español, particularmente el panameño; el “hip hop” y el “rap” afroamericano, pero también “niuyorican”, y varios estilos del Caribe hispánico, como la bomba, la plena, la salsa, el merengue, la bachata y la cumbia.

El “reggaetón” puede leerse como parte integrante de los intensos flujos musicales a través de múltiples circuitos migratorios entre varios países caribeños y sus diásporas. Esta mezcla de ritmos, instrumentos, compositores, cantantes e intérpretes de diversos orígenes nacionales, raciales y étnicos es un rasgo distintivo de la música afroantillana, desde la rumba y el mambo hasta la salsa y el “reggae”. Desde una perspectiva histórica, el “reggaetón” es la más reciente expresión de la criollización musical de la región. Como otros géneros populares, el “reggaetón” fusiona elementos caribeños, afroamericanos y latinos, tanto en términos lingüísticos como musicales. De ahí que apele a un público amplio y diverso, más allá de fronteras insulares.

Leer el “reggaetón” requiere ensanchar el imaginario convencional de las identidades nacionales, ancladas en un solo territorio, una lengua vernácula y una cultura compartida. Como demuestran hábilmente los ensayos recopilados en este libro, la “nación del reggaetón” se mueve constantemente entre numerosos países y ciudades, entre el español y el inglés, entre ritmos antillanos y afroamericanos. Además, sus cultivadores y fanáticos representan a una población multirracial, aunque predominan negros y mulatos. Su transición de los márgenes al centro de la industria musical global en menos de una década coincide con su apropiación por parte de un creciente número de jóvenes latinoamericanos, latinos y caribeños. En el fondo, se trata de una música nómada, que desborda los límites del nacionalismo cultural, las clasificaciones raciales y étnicas, las normas establecidas del buen gusto y las preguntas —para citar aquel famoso son cubano— sobre de dónde son los cantantes.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Reggaeton roots & rarities in DJ/Rupture's radio show

(DJ/Rupture at the studio. Photo by Wayne Marshall.)

Click here to listen to last night's WFMU 91.1 Mudd Up! radio show with DJ/Rupture. My dear co-editor Wayne Marshall and myself were the guests.

The Mudd Up! show usually focuses on: "New bass and beats plus live guests (musicians, DJs, poets) and an ear for the global south. Cumbia. Dubstep. Gangsta synthetics. Sound-art. Maghrebi. International exclusives." For our show, the focus was... "From Panamanians to Playeros to post-DemBoleros, [we]’ll be spinning rarities alongside discussion of the genre’s complex roots and current possibilities."

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

NYC Reggaeton book event and afterparty: May 7th!

My co-editors (Wayne Marshall and Deborah Pacini Hernandez) and I are thankful for all the Reggaeton book-related events of the past month: University of Texas, Austin; EMP's Pop Music Conference in Seattle; University of Wisconsin, Madison; the book release event in Puerto Rico.

Now the time has come to celebrate in New York City!

NYC book release: MAY 7th, 6:30 pm

The New York City book release is being hosted by the Center for Puerto Rican Studies on Thursday May 7th, 6:30 p.m., Hunter College, Faculty Dining Room, West Building, 8th Floor, New York, New York. For more information contact Centro events coordinator Ivelisse Rosario Natal: ivelisse.​rosario-​natal@​hunter.​cuny.​edu.​

NYC book release afterparty: May 7th, 10 p.m.

The book event AFTERPARTY is being hosted by the good folks at QUE BAJO?!
FREE (No Cover)
Ft Geko Jones & Uproot Andy
Special Guest DJ Wayne and Wax (aka book co-editor Wayne Marshall)
Start Time: Thursday, May 7, 2009 at 10:00pm
End Time: Friday, May 8, 2009 at 4:00am
Location: APT
Street: 419 W. 13 St.
City/Town: New York, NY

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Putting the "tra" in transnational

The title of the Remezcla review of our Reggaeton book is: "Reading Reggaeton: A new anthology puts the 'tra' in transnational."

I love the witticism!

Among other things, the Remezcla book review says: "Overall, Reggaeton is a well-(g)rounded and engrossing approach to a subject matter that is both mainstream and marginalized at the same time. Most definitely an essential read for anyone interested in modern Caribbean popular culture."

And I agree: Tego Calderón's article and Miguel Luciano's images are among the highlights of our book.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Mini-chronicle: Reggaeton book event in PR

Last week was intense. I'm so grateful to Benjamín Muñiz and professors Aileen Estrada and Lilia Planell for their amazing efforts at organizing and publicizing our Reggaeton book event held last Thursday, April 29th at El Patio de las Artes in Universidad del Sagrado Corazón.

The place was packed! And I can't be more pleased with the amazing lineup of book discussants.

From left to right: master of ceremonies Benjamín Muñiz (at the podium), University of Puerto Rico anthropologist Jorge Duany, Director of the Popular Music Program at the Universidad Interamericana Miguel Cubano, videographer and anthropologist Melisa Riviere, dancer and independent scholar Awilda Sterling, Universidad Interamericana professor of Criminal Justice Gary Gutiérrez, and Sagrado Corazón professor and radio producer/host Elmer González.

I was also honored by the presence of VIP guests like renowned pianist Brenda Hopkins Miranda, ex-senator Velda González (yup, the same senator who spearheaded the 2002 perreo-focused public hearings), sociologist and one of my dearest mentors Angel Quintero Rivera, literary critic Carmen Dolores Hernández, journalist and media producer Luis Fernando "Peri" Coss, scholar and performer Larry La Fountain, hip-hop artists Welmo Romero Joseph and Velcro (Andrés Ramos), among many, many more.

Among the event's highlights: the audience's enthusiastic response to Elmer González's remarks on our book's reggae/reggaeton in Panama section, Brenda Hopkins' incisive statements on recent legislation regarding Puerto Rican "autochthonous music," and the heated exchange between ex-senator Velda González and book discussant Awilda Sterling regarding the virtues of the perreo dance style.

I had a blast: partly because the event was wonderful, partly because it was also my birthday and my family and dearest friends surprised me with a cake. Great way to start a new year!

(Photos by Anabellie Rivera.)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Artículos sobre Reggaeton en Claridad

El semanario Claridad de Puerto Rico acaba de publicar un suplemento especial con motivo del lanzamiento del libro que co-edité junto a Wayne Marshall y Deborah Pacini Hernandez titulado Reggaeton.

Aquí la introducción al suplemento, escrito por Alida Millán Ferrer, editora de la sección cultural de Claridad: "Conversando sobre el reggaetón."

Benjamín Muñiz, curador del suplemento, escribió "¿Te gusta o no te gusta el reggaetón?

Esta servidora escribió "Introducción a las selecciones del libro Reggaeton".

Las selecciones del libro son:

"Los circuitos socio-sónicos del reggaetón", de Wayne Marshall, Raquel Z. Rivera y Deborah Pacini Hernandez.

"Reggae en Panamá", de Christoph Twickel.

"Del hip hop al reggaetón: ¿un paso es?", de Welmo E. Romero Joseph.

"Poesía de porquería: la lírica post-reggaetónica de Calle 13", de Frances Negrón-Muntaner.

"Un hombre vive aquí: el hipermasculino Residente del reggaetón", de Alfredo Nieves Moreno.

"La Glory y la faz", de Félix Jiménez.

El artículo de las páginas centrales es "La ruta de lo popular y el reggaetón", de Brenda Hopkins Miranda.

Y para cerrar: "Reggaetón, un reto", de Ezequiel Rodríguez Andino.

¡Que disfruten la lectura!

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Reggaeton book events: PR and NYC

¡¡¡Por fin!!!

You can order our book through Duke University Press or amazon or your local bookstore or... (the options are many). Check the amazing blurbs on the book's back cover by none other than Residente Calle 13, Jeff Chang, Juan Flores and Mark Anthony Neal.

The Puerto Rico book release is being hosted by Universidad del Sagrado Corazón, Maestría en Medios y Cultura Contemporánea on Wednesday April 29th, 6 p.m. at Patio de las Artes, Edificio Barat, Universidad del Sagrado Corazón, San Juan, Puerto Rico. For more info contact (787) 661-6908 or aestrada@sagrado.edu.

The New York City book release is being hosted by the Center for Puerto Rican Studies on Thursday May 7th, 6:30 p.m., Hunter College, Faculty Dining Room, West Building, 8th Floor, New York, New York. For more information contact Centro events coordinator Ivelisse Rosario Natal: ivelisse.rosario-natal@hunter.cuny.edu.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

2 papers on women & reggaeton

(Girl 1 by Sofia Maldonado, 2006. 120 cm x 270 cm.)

#1. I just read the paper "Análisis de la imagen de la mujer en el discurso del reggaeton" by María José Gallucci (2007). The analysis is extremely narrow and simplistic, a great example of the serious amount of work to be done on the topic. As stated in the (full of grammatical errors) English abstract provided: "Considering exclusively the criticism about the sexual orientation and woman belittlement expressed in the reggaeton lyrics, this investigation [...] aims to describe how man present women's image in reggaeton lyrics." Gallucci draws the following conclusion from a discourse analysis of 10 of the most successful songs by Daddy Yankee and Don Omar: "Through this investigation, one can conclude that, even when in many cases the lyrics do have a heavy load of sexual content; it is also true that, in other lyrics, the singer (re)presents woman from his feelings, and in situations that are not unusual to our everyday life." Flojo.

#2. I found more useful "El reggaetón y sus audiencias femeninas: una mirada al universo cultural de las adolescentes de hoy" by Wilma Guzmán Flores (2007), presented at the national conference of the National Association of African American Studies & Affiliates. It's based on very limited ethnographic work with teenage women in Puerto Rico, fails to draw linkages between reggaeton and other (past and present) musical/cultural expressions and often takes at face value what the informants are saying. But her ethnographic efforts still tell a fascinating story that, of course, is as much about the informants as it is about the researcher.

I appreciate the author's earnest questions regarding how much "control" women actually have when they're dancing (her informants explain it is women who have the power/control in perreo matters). Guzmán Flores, in this case, is unwilling to accept her informants' opinions uncritically and is puzzled by the codes of what's acceptable and what's not for her informants. She asks (but leaves unanswered): Why would these young women object to being touched by their dancing partner's hands and not by their crotch? Great question to follow up on. It reminds me of Nina La Bandolera's thought-provoking blog post detailing her version of perreo @ the club rules of conduct.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Momma's Hip-Hop Kitchen - FREE concert

Come dance with us @ MOMMA'S Hip Hop Kitchen.

I'll be there singing in a ventetú of bomba drummers and dancers, paying homage to our ancestresses.


Tickets will be given at the door for seating purposes only.
First come, first served!

Now some info from organizers Dayanara and Lah Tere:

We are looking for organizations to endorse or sponsor the event. If you are interested, have any questions and/or need more tickets. Please call Dayanara 917-232-5419 -fuerzagoddess@aol.com or Lah Tere 312-489-0505 - lahtere@yahoo.com.

We are asking everyone to please help us raise money to support local organizations. Be abundant and contribute something towards your ticket. DONATIONS will get you RSVP Seats, & Raffle tickets.

Please let me know how many tickets you need so I can RSVP your group, we can also arrange a time when I can give you the tickets as well.

To make a donation please go to http://www.casaatabexache.org/index.php?name=joinCasa scroll down to paypal and make sure that you put for mommas hip hop kitchen. Let me know when you do this so I can rsvp you.

Womyn In Hip Hop Respond to Violence Against Womyn in

HIP HOP... `HER-story is OUR Story!

If you have turned to the news over the past two weeks, we are sure you can tell us something about Rihanna and Chris Brown. While this was a sad and unfortunate incident in their lives, it is an incident that happens everyday, every few minutes, and every single second in our communities. Unfortunately, we have heard this story too many times before by womyn that include Faith Evans, Mary J, Blige, Whitney Houston, Left Eye, Jaslene Gonzalez, Jennifer Hudson (a family affair), not including the other voices of womyn that the industry has silenced. Like those stories, this buzz shall pass and womyns lives will continue to be taken at the hands of men, never getting sufficient media attention to create significant change. What won't pass is the continuous abuse that is happening to womyn in our communities that no one is talking about.

The attention that Rihanna and Chris have received has impacted music listeners across the world, especially youth and young womyn who may find themselves in similar situations. The message they are receiving right now include but are not limited to: (this is even after seeing the picture)

1. Its Rihanna's fault (through the speculation of different stories), she deserves it or she asked for it.

2. Its wasn't his fault--the industry is stressful, he saw it growing up, they are both young and very one makes mistakes.

3. His career is more important than her life. In the past abusive entertainers have gained rewards for their behavior i.e. increasing record sales, endorsements and overall publicity. (Biggie, Pun, Bobby, and the list goes on...)

Yet, no one is talking about the impact that this is having on Rihanna's mind, body and spirit. This has only become a "domestic" violence issue because of the visible bruises on her face. But how about the ones that we don’t see, the physical, verbal, emotional, psychological, economic and sexual abuse that took place or may have been taking place prior to this incident. The hidden marks of relationship & dating violence!

The messages above continues to drive home that womyn are always blamed for the abuse they go through, that its okay for young men to behave and use violence as a solution because there is no consequence and there is no space for womyn to defend and fight for themselves. What are the messages that we are sending our young womyn and men and what are the next steps for a disease that is taking the lives of communities of color all over the world?

Somewhere in America a woman is battered, usually by her intimate partner, every 15 seconds. (UN Study On The Status of Women, Year 2000)

In NYC Police responded to 234,988 domestic violence incidents in 2008; this averages to over 600 incidents per day. In addition, NYPD’s Domestic Violence Unit conducted 72,463 home visits in 2008, a 93% increase since 2002.
16,861 teen calls were received by the City’s Domestic Violence Hotline in 2007; and 9,462 were received in 2006.
* Statistics provided by Safe Horizon

With these statistics, why does it take a celebrity to go through violence in order for it to become a public issue that gets media attention? What about your neighbors story, your moms, your sisters, your daughter, your own story? When will that get the media coverage it needs?

Due to the lack of support , womyn have had to create their own form of media using the elements of hip hop as a tool for voicing our stories. On Saturday, March 7th, 2009, in honor of International Women's Month, 900 women, youth and families representing over 30 non profit organizations, schools and local artists collectives will be using hip hop to take back their lives at the 2nd Annual Mommas Hip Hop Kitchen. In response to the ongoing and increasing violence in our community we will be putting on the Womyn's Hip Hop Concert of the year.

This year Mommas Hip Hop Kitchen is bringing you a powerful concert in collaboration with CASA Atabex Ache, Trabajadoras por la Paz, Vamos a la Pena del Bronx and the Rebel Diaz Arts Collective. These groups rooted in the South Bronx work year round in ending violence against womyn. The South Bronx is the birthplace of Hip Hop, and the poorest congressional district in the nation where negative statistics on womyn are staggering. Together we are putting on a program that will support families dealing with domestic violence, immigration, LGBTQ issues, foster care, homelessness, prison, police brutality, and more by providing a day to be in celebration for their lives. This concert will create dynamic interactive exchange and safe space for all young and adult womyn of color & their families to express themselves through the art of Hop Hop. This event will bring a beautiful array of artistic sistahs together to share their medium with young women of color across the city.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Wayne on Dembow & Marisol on Daggering

For thoughts on Dem Bow and a mix called "Dem Bow Dem" by my co-editor Wayne Marshall, click here.

For Marisol LeBron on the recent Daggering controversy in Jamaica and it's parallels to reggaeton's perreo debates, click here.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Hip-Hop vs. Reggaetón

Says Vico C. in The Chosen Few documentary:

Says Wayne who posted the excerpt on youtube:
"Vico C demonstrates the difference between hip-hop and reggaeton via beatbox :: this is an excerpt from the _Chosen Few_ documentary, which I highly recommend :: I claim fair use for these 14 seconds -- it serves as an example in an article about reggaeton (in _Reggaeton_ [Duke University Press, 2009]) and is included on a page of musical examples here: http://wayneandwax.com/?page_id=139"

Says I:
Check out Wayne's musical examples page. It gives some audio input into the comments generated by my previous blogpost. And, actually, so does his now classic 05 blog post "we use so many snares" included in the 2006 version of Da Capo Best Music Writing series.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Sunez on reggaeton

Sunez, Editor in Chief of Lavoe Revolt and whose writings I've followed since the early 90s, takes on reggaeton in a September 2008 blogpost that I only recently saw. It's titled "THE REAL MUSIC: Time to Disassociate and Associate PART 1".

Here are some of it's most incendiary highlights:

"Thus, Reggaeton, is a label of wretched waste a particular ethnicity can now call their own. And only their own."

"It is not merely enough to say it is a degradation of the morality and ethics of a people. This would be using the Stanley Crouch-like veils of pompous morality to blame a music for the realities of an impoverished people. Yet, it is clear that Reggaeton is a sellout subgenre and its artists don’t reflect their reality realistically and/or seek to express themselves originally and cleverly."

"Ultimately, Reggaeton lyrically only has one aspect: the desires of a colonized youth who mildly taste the defecated splendor of Americana in their colony and are visually awash with the spicy lure of its grander stardom pitches toward them daily."

"Essentially, if these lyrics rep the Boricua hoods in Borinquen, niggas is weak hoping for wicked."

"[...]the game is to be sold and never to be bold. A colonized slave people think up garbage all by themselves. That’s the point."

"Clearly put, [Tego Calderon] is an average MC (If he grew up in Brooklyn, he’d have no chance) who deliberately makes some sellout tracks to hustle his catalogue."

As I wrote in the Comments section of the blog: I agree with much in Sunez's article, disagree with some of it and I'm inspired by all of it.

The only one thing that truly scandalized me was his description of Tego as average. Tego?! Average?!

I won't argue with Sunez's statement that Tego "deliberately makes some sellout tracks to hustle his catalogue." (Granted, I'm not one to use the word "sellout" but I know what Sunez means.) But Tego's wordplay, his subtleties, the echoes of Ismael Rivera in his wordchoice and flow, his (granted, contradictory) politics... Nothing but average? Nah. Average might be Daddy Yankee, Don Omar and Ivy Queen.

As always, much respect and cariño to Sunez.