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.


SUNEZ said...

I'm most definitely thankful for inspiring. I go hardbody against the reggaeton. Other sellout styles in hip hop would at least frustrate me with a misuse of samples of great soul, etc. Reggaeton just bores me.

Musical taste is subjective but as a scholar or critic one notes likes and dislikes with as much detachment as possible. Noting my standards helps.

My standard for an MC is comparing him to everything I've ever heard. For Tego, or anyone new and especially out of New York, that is unfair. It really is but no one judges the greatness of a trumpet player without holding Louie and Dizzy as the barometers. Some end up just labeled good even if they have unique attributes. Most rap critics and journalists now eliminate this standard to allow new pop trends (i.e. the post Outkast/Goodie Mob south) to be validated.

I really see the Maelo comparison with Tego. I been comparing Pun to Lavoe since 99. One difference is that Pun and Lavoe can also be compared technically. Both were extremely dexterous in their craft. For me, Ismael is the Rakim of soneros. He's the standard for many yet many don't get into him easily and his greatness is overlooked. I don't see Tego as lyrical in that way but the wordplay comparison I see.

Still, if we put Tego in Brooklyn, what would happen? There's too many MCs. He only matched up with B-Real on "Latin Thugs" and on a Primo track, "Gangsta Shit" w/Tony Touch, the standard archetypal hip hop track, he was out of sync. He is completely unique but I find his dexterity and flow real limited.

Note that I'm also biased in my thoughts on rappers rapping in spanish. It is a far more melodious and easier to rhyme (most can get by rhyming o,a and i). So Tego sounds even more awkward to me. This awkwardness can also be mastered by MCs as I find Thirstin Howl III an ideal example.

As a point of reference, Tony Touch, Chief Kamachi, Vordul Mega, Planet Asia, Madlib (legendary producer), Greg Nice, Big Pooh, Large Professor (great beatmaker & still a personal favorite on mic), Diamond D, Fat Joe (93-95), Lil Dap, etc. are all average MCs who may or may not have had great peaks and/or unique attributes.

Daddy Yankee, Ivy Queen and Don Omar are sickly below average to me.


Anonymous said...

this is a response to sunez:
let me first tell you about the fact that u call reggaeton a sub genre? sub genre of what exactly? can u plz explain it to me? if you say reggaeton is a subgenre of hip hop, then you have no knowledge of what your talking about bout thus disqualifying you from making any further comments, if you say reggaeton is a subgenre of DANCEHALL, then reggaeton is no more a subgenre of dancehall than hip hop is a subgenre of disco for that matter, the only difference is that disco no longer exists right now, and thats speaking as a musical aspect of it
just because you were brought up in the bronx with the hip hop culture gives you no right to judge a movement or a musical genre for that matter, now let me mention something real quick, you say reggaeton is sell out music, reggaeton was not sell out music until it reached the american mainstream, and your right tego is average as an mc, hes a good reggaeton artist, but an average mc,
i suggest instead of listening to daddy yankee and wisin yandel you listen to fuera de serie by lito y polaco, listen to la calle esta dificil, and then tell me reggaeton is all about dance and partying, reggaeton has malianteo which focuses on lyrics instead of partyin, listen 2 eddie dee, and no im not talkin bout their hip hop songs im talkin bout their reggaeton malianteo song, reggaetons primary focus is on partying however, thats all caribbean, caribbeans cant live with boring hip hop and jazz, thats why in the caribe you have merengue, salsa, timba , son , reggaeton with respect to both those genres,( i love jazz, and nas is my favorite rapper), but for you to just come out and disrespect a whole genre and call it a sell out subgenre is a symbol of ultimate ignorance, if reggaeton was a sell out, how come its being embraced by many people in latin america, from cuba to peru and bolivia, if theres no lyricism today in reggaeton is because, american companies have pimped reggaeton and the artists have been the sell outs not the music homie

SUNEZ said...

Peace ElPerso,
Thank you for offering your thoughts. Again musical taste is subjective therefore we must note like and dislikes properly before we can understand the most innovative of musical works in all their intricacies.
We also must respect the props of perspective one may have to validate their insights. Here, it would be right and exact to study the author for their history and qualitative contributions. That means, check the resume.
I'm God (of Nation of God and Earth) from a Boricua heritage from Sunset Park, Brooklyn. I've lived hip hop culture and its music for over 3 decades from the root. I've been honored to research it, offer insights on it and create hip hop (in the form of literature) for over 14 years. When I say Hip Hop started somewhere and that it is something, it comes from researching countless works and documentation and building with them personally. There is no disrespect for any MCs from other states, countries, continents, etc. In fact, my experience in Puerto Rico in the mid 90’s and researching DJs covering the real MCs worldwide say otherwise. Ultimately, it's not worthwhile pulling my card when I'm holding a whole deck. Shuffle through all of this and play some hands before you throw jokers of ignorance in.
On the idea of genre, Hip Hop is a specific genre though its characteristics musically derive from Jamaican reggae (i.e. the dub plates are the inspiration for Kool Herc taking breaks that recreate that repetitive bass groove and break snare for toasting). Hip Hop used disco for many breaks but disco is pop soul. By this, we can say Hip Hop is funk (i.e. JB, Parliament, Jimmy Castor, etc.) or Latin Caribbean as most breaks(i.e. "Apache")had to please the predominately Latino breakers. Hip Hop samples so widely that its major root must be identified by how the music is used. Thus, reggae it is. However, it is the MCing that makes it distinct. As Chuck D noted, "Rap is vocal over music. It's a vocal style." With hip hop you have a detail of lyric that was never explored before. This makes hip hop a genre.
The embracement of anything by a majority never validates it and is a necessary prerequisite for selling out (i.e. everyone buys it). Worldwide embracement would justify most dangerous drugs, capitalism, religion and violence. In addition, a few rappers supposedly keeping it real over a reggaeton beat would only be an exception to the rule. My initial point on the musical relevancy of reggaeton is that it is a “grossly limited musical composition. Any Reggaeton song with a different breakbeat is no longer Reggaeton. Any Reggaeton song that doesn’t have a whore-inducing hook, weak, diluted posturing and pulsing, grafted swagger sayings, hip for a Telemundo commercial, is no longer a Reggaeton song. It is all then Hip Hop. If they actually rap, it’s just a Hip Hop song. If the beat is hardcore, shrewdly produced, with lyrics that are equally skillful, then it is a good hip hop song, not Reggaeton.” Them brothers you mentioned rapped. Then they made hip hop. It was over a reggaeton beat. Then it is a hip hop song made on that one same beat. A rap song on a wack beat. One beat isn’t a genre.
A subgenre is not a term of disrespect; rather I note that reggaeton is not worthy of a subgenre. It’s roots are wholly derivative and fuses commercial dancehall with hip hop rapping. Bachata could be called a subgenre if we respect the bolero singers of Mexico, Cuba, Puerto Rico, etc. Salsa is really a fusion genre as it is a completely unique Cuban son (i.e. guajira, guaracha, etc.) with strong jazz aesthetics (i.e. extended soloing, extended measures, etc.). Jazz and hip hop may be boring to you yet they are as Caribbean as any other genre you mentioned. Jazz’ roots are in New Orleans which was and is heavily Caribbean and the elements are easy to note. Jazz musically and hip hop lyrically are such advanced genres of music (i.e. jazz with 80 years of development as it starting as a rebel party music and hip hop with such a unique development of its focus on vocal lyricism as the rhythmic and compositional focus) that diluted forms eventually evolve for the masses. Reggaeton’s essential mono-groove is far too limited to make it a living subgenre. It’s only room for growth (i.e. different break rhythms or MCing with greater skill, diversity and content) would make it back to being classified as Hip Hop.
My disrespect for the genre is also a great respect for the real MCs of all countries (from France to Cuba to the heart of Medina/Brooklyn) I’ve encountered. But to have the swagger and stance of hip hop is something one earns. I’m Hip Hop. I don’t have to respect anyone with spin-off brands that can’t mess with the best. Just like Reggaeton don’t have it and my writing goes hardbody on it. Any and all doing Hip Hop has to recognize the best and get their respect first.
Sunez Allah

Raquel Z. Rivera said...

Check also Siloé Andino's comments on the myspace version of this blog:

Anonymous said...

Well im glad you responded to me, you broke down hip hop very nicely for me, and it is true, however your looking at it from a different angle, what made hip hop is not only MCing , its the minimalism approach when it comes to melody and percussion. hip hop is not funk, the only thing that hip hop has in common with funk is the snare pattern in the percussion, hip hop was a revolutionary music genre, theres no doubt about that. MCing is rapping, hip hops most common feature is rapping, however not all hip hop music has rapping in it, likewise you can rap to techno, house, rock, bachata, merengue , reggaeton, that doesnt make them hip hop, you understand. vocal style of MCing was born thanks to hip hop, but its not exclusive to hip hop, likewise singing is not exclusive to rock, i suspect you dont consider freestyle(latin freestyle, not related to freestyle rap) a genre, however short lived i consider it a genre, because it has different musical attributes than hip hop , its a fusion genre , its breakbeat style is reminiscint of hip hop, however it uses much more percussion in a single beat. so i come to my argument, Reggaeton, Reggaetons most important attribute is its return to soley percussion based music, in salsa if you take the melody it wouldnt be salsa!, but in reggaeton you can take the melody its still reggaeton, and as far as you saying monothonic sound, you are absolutely wrong, reggaeton doesnt sound any more monotonic than rock with is various sub genres does, specially if you listen to underground reggaeton you will notice this at this point in 2008 there are very different ways to make a reggaeton songs, even on a mainstream level their are many different sounding reggaeton music thats being produced, let me name you a couple of mainstream songs

i suggest you check out the following songs from broke and famous(2007) by nejo y dalmata produced by dj nelson, after that
asi es la vida
un call
se va se va
mundo artificial
all of the reggaeton songs mentioned sound different from eachother,(also the bass drum and snare dont change in the dembow, but high hats and timbals do!)(there are more reggaeton songs in the album)
then listen 2 songs from showtime
na de na, (even tho the songs in this album arent lyrical)
and finally download guelo stars latest mixtape by dj sincero from( and youll see reggaeton has much more to offer than you think, unfortunately its (and it was)being pimped to the max for its commercial appeal, and now that americans have sucked it dry, their gonna leave it alone. america has a very nice system of exploitation it seems, and our artists never learn to not fall into the hole. its their fault, the artists i mean,
so at the end, i feel your coming from a very hip hop point of view, which therefore its natural for you to look down upon reggaeton, because reggaeton wouldnt exist if hip hop didnt, and thats a fact. but your hip hop point of view has distorted your judgement for reggaeton to the fullest possible
but unfortuntatly im afriad its not gonna change your opinion no matter what i say
and Reggaeton is a genre because its revolutionary how its based on percussion, just like most traditional music in the caribbean, from bomba and plena to Rumba and conga, Reggaeton is a return to roots in a modern way,

but its not gonna change your opinion no matter what i say

lemme add tho i like how your loyal 2 hip hop, and your critism of reggaeton and its artists are very relevant, and i admit as a reggaeton fan the music that the artists have sold out, same wisin yandel who were the commercial forerunners of reggaeton, their last album was hip hop n RnB, "la mente maestra" so you cant blame it on reggaeton, blame it on the artist, just like saying hip hop is a sold out sub genre because of lil wayne or soul ja boy<<< its not hip hops fault!

Anonymous said...

Major HATERADE! Let me drop some science on you god so you can respect the Reggaeton Technique.

Reggaeton reflects a reality that is played out in the caserios and barrios of Puerto Rico on a daily basis. It reflects the experience of an island under the unique confluence of three continents' cultures - Europe, North America, South America. It also reflects the reality of an island that likes to dance, fuck, and party instead of think. It has its pros and its cons, but there is alot of beauty in it. If you are too "down" to see that then you are the one who's limited.

From a musical standpoint, bachata has just as much of a mono-groove as reggaeton. The basic tumbao of salsa is a mono-groove. New York boom-bap is at times a mono-groove. Reggaeton is not the first music with one basic beat played at different speeds and with different melodies. The reason why hip-hoppers hate reggaeton is because the breakdancing element of hip-hop lead to the beats being so widely varied from the get. Nobody gives a fuck about a complicated beat in reggaeton, we want to hump the girl next door not toprock. Even in songs with diverse topics, from social commentary to straight rastrillera, the beat that binds it all is baby-making music. But even this is changing as reggaeton has evolved.

American hip-hoppers often judge a book by its cover when looking at reggaeton. To be honest, alot of Americans simply lack the cultural references necessary to properly understand it. I should know because I am an American, and I had similar attitudes about reggaeton coming from a hip-hop purist's perspective. I also had the old "Nuyorican not accepted in Puerto Rico" baggage. But after living in Puerto Rico, spending time in the caserios and barrios, I began to see the light, so to speak. I can't impute my experiences to you, you obviously have a very strong opinion on the subject, but suffice it to say that you are looking at Reggaeton and perhaps PR culture in general with an antique looking glass.

What I find laughable, however, is you dismissing reggaeton and Don, Daddy, and Tego (as if they were the only exponents worthy of mention) the way you do. You claim to play with a full deck but you honestly sound like a rookie when it comes to reggaeton. Reconcile your comments with songs like "Señor Oficial" by Eddie Dee, or "Loiza" by Tego, show me your musical awareness of the way Don Omar broke musical barriers between DR and PR, give some credit to Daddy Yankee putting the Spanish language on crack in his Playero songs. I mean, if you can't respect Tego's technique maybe your Boricua Spanish needs a Windows Update, god. You need to holla at iTunes and review the musical paradigms of Mexicano 777, Lito y Polaco, Baby Rasta y Gringo, broaden your investigative tactics and get off your intellectual high-horse, and figure out what time it is because your elitism is contrary to everything hip-hop is about. And before you quote KRS-ONE to me you should consider that you started this exchange by blasting a culture that has become relevant WAY beyond its borders, that has made something out of the nothing that is the Puerto Rican caserio. I mean, Reggaeton is huge in Spain, every country in Latin America, they even love that shit in Canada and England. I have even heard reggaeton sung in Iranian.

You are flat-out wrong in your characterization of reggaeton as a one-culture, one-ethnicity music. It has had significant global impact, and if you are too cool to respect it then too bad. Just because you don't identify with a subculture doesn't mean you can look down on it with such arrogance. Human beings are complex creatures, our culture reflects that, if you can't see the complexity in a culture you're not looking hard enough.

I appreciate the post and your experience and knowledge but in my opinion you're just blowing smoke to prove to people that you are a down hip-hop rican with no love for the reggaeton phonies. Even if reggaeton were as base as you make it seem there's no reason to hate so hard. You sound like a white wannabe kid dissing rock music to prove to everybody that he's black on the inside. This Willie Lynch bullshit might get you social currency in Brooklyn but it does nothing to advance the cause of oppressed people globally. Check yourself god!

Earth Izayaa Allat-- Tierra Izayaa Allat said...

Peace to the God, Sunez Allah...

I just want to give out my respects to him and to Raquel Rivera, who without her blog, these conversations on reggeaton would not be occurring.

To the person who posted as anonymous, you have shown yourself to be one angry person making assumptions and actually dissing Sunez. Sunez is a very peaceful person, who is exposing his views on the subject. Your anonymous "attack" the validity of your argument. Why don't you even show who you are? Come in the name, and show honor to what you see as right and exact. But, I guess it provides you with the security you need to blatantly diss a street nigga & scholar like Sunez. Acting exactly like whites do, when they live within their gated communities. Who's the white kid now?

Your commented that he sounds like a white kid trying to bomb rock so that he can show the legitimazy of hip hop is absurd. It's actually quite the opposite. Sunez is already within the realm of original peoples, if you don't know what I mean, then try getting a KNOWLEDGE OF YOURSELF. Within this insider circle of a person who is PUERTO RICAN, has lived in the island for a while, and grew up in Sunset Park- Brooklyn, and who understands that all original man and woman are black, To my understanding, he's analyzing the musicality of reggaeton. The actual music itself.

Furthermore, it's context and relevancy to our people and the culture that comes out of that genre. This genre has created a culture in which the morality and ethics of our people are comprised. When were are no longer thinking righteous, love, peace, and happiness, but rather about gratification, the exploitation of our original women, and the portrayal of a false criminality glorified. I know this, as I've been in circles where this has been the predominant music.

Thus, this music serves to perpetuate the continual oppression of our people. This universality you speak of, in terms of the genre being heard in other parts of the world, it is in the sell-out, industry niggas putting that shit out to the 85%. Again, if you don't understand this, read up on the NGE.

While this is the condition in which are people are living, reggaeton serves to continue that perpetuation of our condition as oppressed peoples. It is an escape music, where people go to clubs drugged up, dancing to its mono-rhythm, as an escape from their reality. AS A WOMAN/THE TRUE AND LIVING EARTH-ALLAT, in my experience, this music has not been in any way uplifting or "revolutionary." If it were so, then a documentary about reggaeton and its use for revolutionary movements in Latin America would be documented.

In regards to breaking musical barriers with DR and Pr, within the modern context of music this had already been done, with Olga Tanon doing Merengue, and many others in DR doing Salsa. So what's the newness in this?

It's not about identifying, last time I checked identity is based on how one sees themselves in accordance to their environment, history, and the constructed labels already existing for the being.

I advice you stop playing with the righteous lingo or else come see us at the Allah School in Mecca.

Peace to the Gods and Earths, to all the righteous original peoples who keep real and scholarly.

Earth Allat.
Brown Grad '04

Anonymous said...

Look, you can throw around words like "peace" all you want, but Sunez is going "hardbody" against a culture that has many people behind it, a culture that many people love and identify with, just not many people who are going to show up on this site and post that counter argument. Sunez's article is a blatant disrespect to followers of that culture and he deserves to be responded to in kind.

Are you incapable of analogy? Just because Sunez is one of the "original peoples" has no effect on my point about the white rockero. I'll switch the hypo for you: a black kid in the suburbs dissing hip-hop as ignorant nigger music to better fit in with his crowd.

Music is representative of culture. I can't stand people seriously trying to argue that one music/culture is superior to another. Every music style and culture imaginable engages in the glorification of women. Get the fuck out of here with this "reggaeton is so demeaning." If you listen to hip-hop, get the fuck out of here. If you listen to rock, get the fuck out of here. We are human beings and across the board we make equally enlightening and trashy music. What I don't like is you people judging Reggaeton solely on its defects rather than the whole picture.

I mean, are you seriously trying to say that everything was love, peace, and hair grease until Daddy Yankee came along and fucked it all up for us?? What, the Conquistadores brought reggaeton and got the Tainos perreando while they took over the island? What culture did Querido FBI come out of, what culture produced En Lo Claro by Voltio? I know many concious songs in the Reggaeton/Urbano genre lack the dembow beat, but Sunez is lumping the whole genre together and judging it not only on musicality, but its social and cultural effect. So I'm within my lane to counterpoint.

The difference with Don Omar is that the Dominican population in Puerto Rico has exploded and Dominican/Puerto Rican cultural tension is at an all-time high. To the point where now Dominican words are becoming a part of the lingo, and Dominicans practically control areas like Rio Piedras (Capotillo, Casco Urbano, where you only hear bachata in the streets). Hell, Piñones is more bachata than bomba these days. I mean, look at the tiraderas between Dominican Hop and Reggaeton. You guys want to talk about social commentary and cultural mixing, that right there is the foreground of interaction between the cultures. As much as Puerto Rico is being Americanized it is being Dominicanized. Artists like Hector El Father, Jowell y Randy, Ñejo, Voltio, Tego, and most well-known Don Omar are at the head of this. These are things you miss if you write off Puerto Rican urban culture as "trashy reggaeton."

Don't get me wrong, at times I hate reggaeton! The whole Wisin y Yandel, Alexis y Fido, Zion thing was pretty boring, and Daddy Yankee pisses me off alot. But you people deserve to be shitted on for writing off a diverse culture that is more than just Machete Music! Furthermore, as a Nuyorican I get embarassed by my Nuyorican brothers and sisters who think that because they get teased in PR now they have to throw all things Rican under the bus. I find it hilarious you people are talking about Africa yet shit on Tego. You guys are either all over the place or just misinformed. I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt and going with the later, but you still deserve to be flamed for playa hating.

The biggest point I want to make is that you guys in many ways are taking Puerto Rican culture out of context. Here in the U.S., reggaeton comes with the popular baggage of NORE, Daddy Yankee, Don Omar, and Tego. None of the hit singles coming from these guys is particularly inspiring or interesting. What is inspiring and interesting is the whole culture of Reggaeton that has been taking place in PR since the 80s in areas outside society, like La Perla, caserios like Llorens and Monte Hatillo, barrios like Villa Palmera, even places that were once campo like Caguas or Cayey that because of urban sprawl now are active parts of Musica Urbana Hecha en Puertorro. I mean, whats really interesting about reggaeton right now is all the jibaro artists coming out the woodwork like Ñejo who are rapping in native, heavy accents. What is realer than that? Look at La Perla, awhile back it was shootout central, now you can go and enjoy a reggaeton concert every month and mingle with people from high society to low without fear of almost any violence, there was only one murder last year! It's not BECAUSE of reggaeton, but it's part of the picture. I'm not saying reggaeton is the solution, but I think it is urban culture that grew in response to spaces left empty by high society, and it deserves to be given more respect by so-called real hip-hoppers.

I don't have to explain my use of anonymous. This is the Internet, everything you put up here could be fake. I'm here to exchange ideas, and yes, shots, if you insist on knowing your criticizors I would suggest putting your ideas on the privacy of a Facebook page.

SUNEZ said...

Peace ElPerso,

I respect the more peaceful current you offer. My article is fiery and I expect like responses. I clearly see that the best Reggaeton can offer will be Raquel’s work. The only defense of a weak music style is that it has potential. However, I made it clear that any realized potential for Reggaeton will just be good Hip Hop made.

I appreciate your insight on vocal style. As a general reference, vocal style is, of course, not exclusive to Hip Hop. However, the basic rhythmic rhyming pattern is the unique feature of Hip Hop. Many of the styles (i.e. Freestyle) and subgenres (i.e. techno) may feature aspects and have direct influences of Hip Hop. They deserve to be heard and they have all the right to be made. Whether one is better or worse is irrelevant.

You’ve labeled genres, subgenres and styles incorrectly. This is a technical definition. To say Freestyle is a genre is misleading and to say it has more percussive elements is incorrect. Freestyle was overproduced, not multi-percussive compared to Hip Hop. The foundation was the break just as Hip Hop. Taking the melody out of salsa, it wouldn’t be salsa? Taking melody out of Reggaeton it would still be Reggaeton? You are supporting Reggaeton with incomplete concepts that are emotionally charged. The foundation of salsa is the polyrhythmic nature of the clave and the tumbao’s 4/4 beat, not some general mysterious melody.

Allow me to make my understanding clear. Reggaeton is not a distinct version of Hip Hop. It is not Latin Hip Hop. Yet, it is billed as such. These claims are not even new false claims. Freestyle often made these claims. Latinos all over the world (i.e. Anonimo Consejo & Doble Filo de Cuba, every hardcore MC in Puerto Rico) are real MCs and they have suffered due to Reggaeton’s limited and simplistic scope. When it comes to all Black music (sorry Latinos, we are and make Black music), New York is the mecca. Everything passes through it and to use my vantage point of being “only Brooklyn” actually shows ignorance. This never worked for jazz, salsa, merengue or any other music all over the world. It all passes through New York. When Reggaeton varies and changes, as you claim, and indeed I have heard it too, it is then Hip Hop. When Reggaeton is actually of any quality...Quality beats...Quality rhymes. It is now Hip Hop. Not Brooklyn Hip Hop. Not New York Hip Hop. Just Good Hip Hop from another place on Earth.

You are right. A music’s worth shouldn’t be on the burden of one artist’s output. However, we still may say that wack artists signal a weaker, or even dying, genre. That goes for Hip Hop and, of course, for Reggaeton.

Sunez Allah

SUNEZ said...

“The dumb are mostly intrigued by the drum”
-Masta Killa of Wu-Tang Clan –“Triumph”

“Rap is not Pop if you call it that and Stop.”
-Q-Tip of A Tribe Called Quest – “Check the Rime”


I am aware of the savage but this will never confer any respect upon any of them, including you. 52 Pickup was not the hand you should’ve played. You need to study your game, the worthwhile things you might contribute to humanity, the defects that you so easily reveal and the respect necessary when God is building sincerely. You instead throw the deck down and flush royally.

You wanna justify yourself and my people cuz this music helps sorry asses get their nut off. I don’t need to be in standing in your yard to show you the shit. I was in Brooklyn when Puffy led Biggie to the commercial promised land and I said, back then, this would sellout the music further. I was in the line of fire (in the streets, in the major magazines and the boardrooms where your favorite Reggaetoneros kiss ass) when I said B.I.G.’s commercial packaging would lead into more accepted pop music. Where the people will be offered escapist frivolity over bad music leaving the more exciting and deeper material that was so nicely developing behind. Unfortunately, I was right and the classic Hip Hop of depth (i.e. Wu-Tang Clan) peaked and dissolved publically and pop hip hop was embraced.

Only in this commercialized era of highly-improbable possible prosperity is one expecting the music of their region to reflect the thoughts and ideas of the weakest individuals. Music of the people reflects themes and events of the average person but is made by exceptional thinkers and/or creative minds. That’s the roots of Bomba, plena, rhumba, roots reggae, the blues, jazz, etc. All of these genres have its savage, frivolous content. However, they survive with its musical advancement and lyrical cleverness expanding. The greatest of musical genres (yes, they can be judged better than others) develop forums for greater content of consciousness and enlightenment offered with classical musical composition .

Your examples only prove my understanding. Eddie Dee’s “Senor Oficial” is not Reggaeton. It is a Dancehall Roots song in Spanish. Much respect for that. That is not Reggaeton. “Loiza” is Tego rapping decently over 50 Cent’s “In The Club.” That’s Hip Hop in the Spanish language. Immortal Technique rapped, in English, over this same track for over 7 minutes. Is that Reggaeton because he’s Latino?! Tego is an MC. Ask him. In The Source, he answered that Gang Starr as one of his honored influences. (“Brooklyn is the home for cultural awareness/So in all fairness, you can never compare this” Guru of Gang Starr “The Place Where We Dwell”).

Musical barriers broken between DR and PR? By Don Omar? Since when? You mean the legends like Johnny Ventura doing Son, Salsa and guajira didn’t do it? Or the countless Perico Ripao’s and merengues throughout the 70’s and 80’s by Willie Colon, Hector Lavoe, Cheo Feliciano, Tommy Olivencia, Ismael Miranda, El Gran Combo, Willie Rosario, Bobby Valentin, Roberto Roena, Tito Nieves y Conjunto Clasico, Frankie Ruiz, etc. Or el Dominicano, El Canario, Jose Alberto, one of the great soneros from Tipica ’73 through his successful solo career? Or was it in the 90’s with the Bachatas done by La India, the merengues done by Olga Tanon and Elvis Crespo, the salsas done by the legend Juan Luis Guerra? Or could it be the most popular group in Latin America the past 5 years, Aventura, composed of Quisqueyanos y Boricuas via The Bronx (i.e. lead singer is Dominican/Puerto Rican). Aventura, a group that fuses genres far more cleverly than any popular Reggaeton artist and has broken every concert record in Puerto Rico of major note (i.e. Most in attendance for single PR concert, most sold out concerts consecutively, etc.) No, of course not. It had to be Don Omar who broke barriers for the non-talented. Or was it just that Aventura let Omar in along for the ride to the promised land. Daddy Yankee is crack?!! Leave Brooklyn out of this. MC Solaar (going way back) and Saïan Supa Crew from France, Afrob from Germany, Africa, Diaz of Norway, etc. can get in on that overcooked crack you selling. The Don Omar unification concepts are irrelevant to my judgment of him as a quality artist. He breaks barriers because he’s a pop artist, nothing more, everything less.

Your musical thoughts are just as pathetic. Bachata’s classification as a genre or subgenre is well discussed by Deborah Pacini Hernandez and David Wayne. In their work, you’ll find your major flaws in comparison as bachata is essentially a fusion genre that developed into a distinct sound yet never claimed to be a unique genre (i.e. from bolero or guajira or jibaro music) until it completely fused and developed. Unlike Reggaeton, Bachata, like the Blues, has a distinct style but it has exceptional footing for improvisation and exploration of technique. As I said before, when Reggaeton displays this, it will just be another form of Hip Hop. Bachata developed and is not easily classified as just Bolero though it may be a subgenre of it for the discerning.

The basic tumbao of salsa is a mono-groove?! No. It is the clave. You want to use salsa monga of the 80’s and 90’s as the barometer you still fall short. Salsa, is simply son and all its forms, played with a pure jazz aesthetic. Yes, Reggaeton is one beat played at different speeds and not the first music to do so. All the rest fell off as fads and never claim to be a genre. Your comment about break dancing is so off, it is non-sensical. The Breakbeat is deliberately repetitive but not intended to be identical duplicates of each other as Reggaeton portrays. And Reggaeton being baby makin music?!! Reggaeton is a collage of lust vibes, one note tracks for the one night stand. Marvin Gaye, Anita Baker, Phyllis Hyman, Isley Brothers, Frankie Beverly, some Afro Peruvian Lando from Eva Ayllon, Miles Davis or John Coltrane ballads, a sweet bachata from Luis Segura, Gregory Isaacs, classic Jose Feliciano, un vallenato, them old Mexican boleros, etc. are baby makin music for the woman you actually want to see next to you the next morning.

Reggaeton can’t even compare to other countries and their blending of indigenous musical roots for a new sound. When Reggaeton develops, as with your refined example of Eddie Dee, you have another already existing genre (Dancehall Roots) in a new language. This doesn’t hold weight and relevancy like Rai in Algeria or rap from the Ivory Coast as they are offering their own perspectives, good, bad, creative and derivative. Reggaeton is deliberately derivative. If a young brother wanted to make music of deeper lyrical content, more complicated rhythm or a freshly excavated breakbeat, he couldn’t make it and be Reggaeton. He’d be Hip Hop.

All the cultural and socio-cultural development you talk about is parallel to Hip Hop in the South Bronx in the late 70’s. A wasteland with a very primitive music and potential to unite the people. The difference I have clearly pointed out is that every positive development in the music makes it Hip Hop. Everything positive you mention is Hip Hop. Puerto Rican Hip Hop as a movement is completely relevant but that isn’t Reggaeton. The clarification needs to be made and it should be done by those in Puerto Rico or else their own music will fail. I’ve insulted no one that is Hip Hop. If you want to further the urban music culture of Puerto Rico, embrace the Hip Hop roots properly and it will grow. Just like all Jazz is really the blues, all Puerto Rican rap is really Hip Hop. For now, the label of Reggaeton destroys all of the versatility and growth it can make.

Human beings are indeed complex. So much so, that you fight to be simplistically illegitimate. Have you read the Willie Lynch letter? While Willie Lynch letter as an actual individual of yesteryear is properly denounced, the letter details the true systematic strategy we were dealt with as capital assets needing sustainment and upkeep from depreciation and loss. The primary way this was done was through destruction of the strength of the Black man and objectification of the Black woman. It sounds like you got the soundtrack for that in your pocket. You need to excavate the diamonds I’ve built up before you try to club me like a savage spade but I don’t think you got the heart for that. Now you’re left bending over to pick up the deck. It seems this is the position you wanted to be in from the opening.

Sunez Allah

PS My blog has all of my information and even whereabouts so your “Anonymous” stance as a internet normality is ill conceived and cowardly at best.

Earth Izayaa Allat-- Tierra Izayaa Allat said...

Peace to the God,

Scholarly he is...indeed.

Earth Allat.

Anonymous said...

Well the anonymous guy has fired fiercely with a temper, i agree with some of the things he said, however i disagree with a lot more ,and as for "Earth Allat" you have conveniently ignored my post, and gave all credit to sunez.
My friend sunez you haven't examined salsa closely , or my words for that matter. If you just examined my words without any bias, you'll see my point is as relevant about reggaeton, as yours is about hip hop. Well of course salsa is dependent on the clave and tumbao as much as it is on the melody of the trumpet and piano and other instruments , musical genres such as salsa, rock, merengue, bachata and reggae are both melody and percussion based(in different levels of course). If salsa wasnt based on melody, there would be no justification for "latin jazz", which resembles salsa almost exactly in percussion but differs greatly in melody. I never said salsa doesn't need percussion.
As you can see i am not emotionally charged, however i am bothered at your narrow look at a so called "limited musical scope".
Hip Hop was once seen as having a very limited musical scope in the early 1980's, im sure you recall. back to my argument in contrast to salsa, genres such as hip hop, house music, rumba, bomba, plena, festejo of peru and reggaeton are Percussion based<< meaning they are dependent on a certain musical pattern(however complex or simple) in the percussion, and melody can accompany it as long as it doesnt over power the percussion, which is unlikely to happen in modern genres of hip hop, house and reggaeton. Now coming to your point of not being able to break the beat in reggaeton, you are absolutely correct. If that counts as a musical limitation to you so be it. however some such as i see it as return to tradition where you can create unlimited ray of emotions with this certain percussion pattern, however as monotonic as dembow might seem to you, there are many songs who incorporate different snares, timbals and hihats like never heard before. So reggaeton is dependent on
Bass drum,snare bass drum snare but its not impossible to make it sound different without breaking the beat like in hip hop. Your most relevant point of argument is where you said the artists have sold out, and the music focuses a lot on degradation of morality and its commercial appeal has definitely corrupted many artists in the island or abroad, I agree with you, however that's not exclusive to reggaeton, like i said before reggaeton has been PIMPED to the max in the whorehouse of the music industry in United States of America, and sucked dry before reaching its growth potential, it took hip hop many years to hit the mainstream, allowing it time to mature and have an underground following, Reggaeton was relatively young when it hit the mainstream. you see i am open to a lot of the criticisms that you have made about reggaeton. but in no way i think you are qualified to pass the ultimate judgment about the music we call reggaeton, because of your strong advocation of hip hop.
like i said you are a devout hip hop fan, and your loyalty is admired and respected. but your not the first person to bash on reggaeton, and certainly you wont be the last.



Anonymous said...

sorry for replying consecutively,
however i just read your response to anonymous, and a lot of the things anonymous said indicate he doesn't have the basic musical background to give a formidable opinion,
loiza and senor official are indeed NOT reggaeton.
and salsa's percussion along with bachata are not monotone, however they do follow a certain pattern and are not breakbeat like hip hop.
As for labeling genres , subgenres and styles incorrectly lets examine what it means.
A genre is equalivant to a language, and sub genre is the dialect of that language.
what are the qualifications of a genre.
1.A relatively apparent departure from the previous derived form.
2.Adoption of new elements of expression from its predecessor
3.having a signature style.

Both hip hop and Reggaeton have all three

1.Reggaeton derived from Spanish dancehall in a form of following a certain percussion pattern

2.The percussion and vocal style were different from the original.
tempo, use of timbales and hi hats and more stress on snare drums on 4th and 3rd step of the 1st and 2nd bar. and rapping merged with reggaeton.

3. simply Dembow is the signature style of reggaeton.

as for Freestyle music, i definitely don't consider a subgenre of hip hop, at the time, because the two genres had some very different attributes, but thats open to debate.

by the way make sure you check out nejo y dalmata
or la calle es dificil by lito y polaco < which is definately reggaeton lol in compared to loiza and senor official.

once again peace


Anonymous said...

I'm going to break this response into two parts, 1. a response to your points, and 2. a response to your general thrust, to play upon the homoeroticism in your last sentence:

1. Well you're certainly clever, and you know alot about music. But not Reggaeton. The prime example is you saying that "Loíza" was made over the In Da Club beat. You are referring to the most popular remix of "Loíza" made by DJ Adam I believe. The original beat, as found in Tego's album "El Abayarde" (holla at iTunes my brother), a REGGAETON classic that you obviously have not heard, is a song where Tego shows that the dembow beat syncs flawlessly with the beat of bomba music.

I never said that Don Omar singlehandedly did what all these other artists contributed to. But he is the modern face of that and you should recognize it. Aventura DOES NOT HAVE the diversity of Don Omar. I will give you three examples to check on iTunes while you're looking up Loíza: "El Rey de Los Curanderos", a traditional Dominican Palos song, "Dile", which is an old bachata song made into Reggaeton and a huge hit, "Amen", a street mambo song made with popular Dominican mambero El Sujeto. All done by "El Rey De Reggaeton", Don Omar.

As far as Daddy Yankee, his earlier Playero songs showed Busta Rhymes like dexterity in my opinion. His trabalenguas were fierce, way before Gasolina. Add Playero 37 to that iTunes list, god.

In general, you need to look at pre-2000 reggaeton to have a respectable frame of reference. Didn't you say you were in PR in the 90s? How come you can't talk about what was going on back then?

2. It seems you define Reggaeton narrowly when it suits you and broadly when it suits you. When an artist who has Reggaeton, hip-hop, r&b, and mambo on his album (as every single "Reggaetonero" you mentioned usually does), he is all Reggaeton, and part of a derivative cultural movement. But when that artist makes a song that is acceptable to your philosophy, that doesn't qualify as Reggaeton because it lacks the dembow beat.

It's one thing to talk about Reggaeton songs, which require dembow, and the Reggaeton movement, which is everything that you have been talking about since the beginning. To say that because these artists step into the Hip-Hop zone means that the only room for growth is hip-hop, seems very off to me. Reggaetoneros are complete musical pirates. Hell, Jowell y Randy are even doing rock songs now. Your application of rigid NYC musical genres to the reality in el Caribe that EVERYONE listens to EVERYTHING is out of touch in my opinion. I'm sorry, I don't think that reggaetoneros should have to get dashikis and pray towards Brooklyn to be able to mix the savage with the profound as they please. I think that since the U.S. invaded our island, U.S. companies came in and piped in hip-hop for us to lap up, we are well within our rights to steal it and remake it without needing to kiss the ring.

The biggest issue you're having is that you don't see that even in a dembow song, there is lyrical creativity, analogy, picaresque imagery and local slang. We're giving you examples of the most righteous, but your biggest issue is that even in the worst Biggie song you still see the jewels. You don't see the jewels in Reggaeton for whatever reason. Maybe lack of understanding, maybe you have a knee-jerk reaction because you think that PR and the South are pretty much the same movement. But you are generalizing all over the place and I just think that you haven't tried hard enough to understand where we're coming from. I think it's convenient for you and the Nuyorican educated community to write off Puerto Rican youth culture like the Young Lords did in the 70s. If there's anything we can learn from the Young Lords, its that an attempt to change PR from the outside is inherently flawed. For that reason alone, I choose to see the good in Reggaeton, and why I think you need to stop hating and rethink your whole schematic. The youth of the island, for better or for worse, are captivated by this music, and there are elements of the music that rock with what you're preaching. Why on earth are you spewing negativity towards it rather than encouraging the growth of what positivity exist within the movement?

Finally, we come to Spanish Hip-Hop. It might surprise you to know that I've seen Anonimo Consejo perform live, I've drank/chilled/burnt with that whole scene during my time there. While I give alot of respect to their movement and A.C. in particular, and more importantly to the Dominican Hop movement, I was rubbed the wrong way actually living and chilling among these people. Alot of them are doing the backpacker thing without being creative about it. Alot of them are pimping hip-hop it as a way to get American sympathy, hoping it will lead to them getting the fuck out of there. I used knew cats that left their babymoms and kids behind in Santiago with no support so they could run off, become an MC, and eventually get to America. What the hell is so good about that?? Not everything hip-hop is good my brother, I'm sorry if I'm raining on your religion.

When I hear a Ñejo or Voltio song, even if the beat is 100% Jamaican dembow, every word they're saying applies to the Puerto Rican reality. Honestly bro, I think you're caught up in this idea of Reggaetoneros fronting like NY rappers, and while that exists I see mostly cats comfortable in their own shoes doing music for their island and representing their reality. They don't make Reggaeton for you. They make it for La Perla, for Fiestas de La Calle San Sebastian, for Las Patronales. And if you can't respect that, then how can you respect hip-hop which at its best is made the same way, for the parks the houseparties and the people, not the Midtown Def Poetry listening party?

You need to loosen up the bowtie, god, creative expression comes in many forms. We can argue about individual songs and artists, but the whole genre does not deserve to be painted in such a way. If your problem is derivativeness, then old poets, Jamaican artists, and jazz artists can shit on hip-hop for their perception of debt. Don't throw stones if you live in a glass house. Dissing derivativeness in music is a silly argument. People copy each other, it's in our evolutionary nature, get over it.

As far as my Anonymity, would it make it better for you if I made up a name like ElPerso? Does it really matter? Or do you want me to have a blogspot so you can take shots at my character rather than focusing on the content of my posts?

Look, I'm aware this is nothing but a mental pissing contest, the reason I decided to engage you is because I saw enough positivity in your posts to recognize that you have alot to contribute. But you are poisoned by this egotistical sense of New York superiority. This is the classic story of Nuyoricans and Puerto Ricans. Until you learn to let go of that dichotomy, you're never going to be able to really improve our people. The reality is that artists like SieteNueve and his kin are incredible and creative but to ignore the power and potential of the Reggaeton movement is brainless if you really would like to see the island improved. I mean, fuck Daddy Yankee, but he got to moderate the Governor's debate...when's the last time you saw a cat from the projects who's criticized the government ("Corazones", off of Barrio Fino, iTunes $9.99) doing such a thing? I know it's media pimping, bla bla bla, but imagine if you directed your energy toward working with the movement instead of disrespecting it?

Anonymous said...

very intersting anonymous, your argument this round is definately more respectable, except i hope you werent implying that i made up ElPerso, because thats how im known by my friends! lol

Raquel Z. Rivera said...

Hiram, one of my favorite folks to brainstorm (and dance) with, wrote me an email about this discussion. I asked him if I could post his response. He said: of course. Here goes Hiram's response:

I think that the arguements are both very good, and pointless at the same Pointless in the sense that two individuals (Sunez Allah and Annoymous) are engaged in a heated debate over what began being about whether reggaeton is wack or not, and has turned into a good old fashion macho pissing contest. They're both trying to "Bomb" each other (5%er lingo for blowing up someone's argument with a better more factual arguement) on the histories of damn near all musical generes and are both making good points. I think it's pointless because reality is that you can't compare reggaeton and rap, Tego & Guru, Puerto Rico and Brooklyn. The over-simplified stance that some how its way easier to rap in spanish because of the "a,o, i" is retarded at best.

I hate reggaeton, I despise it, and I ban it from my ipod (along with salsa)...but it is an expression that was born out of poor Puerto Rico and it's popularity and relevance to millions of people in PR and out can not be denied. It's influences are dancehall ofcourse, and the diaspora (whom they appreciate as much as they try and deny us). Puerto Rico is Puerto Rico and Brooklyn is If Biggie went to Carolina he would've been just some fat "moyeto" trying to rhyme in english. To say Tego is average MC in Brooklyn is unfair and makes no sense. I understand where the God is coming from, but what I see that happened is that his going "hardbody" against reggaeton was taken by Annoymous as going hard against Puerto Ricaness, culture, the talents of our people. The God is taking a very U.S. raised, East Coast, Hip Hop purist, New Yorker look at reggaeton. I know because that is He doesn't see that he's dissing a people because he still holds on to his Puerto Ricaness (hence refering to his "heritage" as Puerto Rican) which therefore gives a right to shit on it.

When I worked in New Haven, there used to be fights over the stereo. Huge beefs would erupt along racial lines when the Black kids would take the reggaeton cd's out and say "we don't like this mira shit cuz we can't understand what they're saying." To which the Puerto Ricans would reply with a "we're not coming back after school because there's too many moyetos and their fucking monkey shit." None of it had to do with race or culture, it was misunderstanding. The Black kids couldn't understand what was being said, and therefore naturally felt out of place and paranoid about whether they were saying bad things about them (which I'm sure came from experiences in their lives). What they didn't understand either was that by shitting on reggaeton because of their inability to understand and fear of "not knowing" they also didn't know that the PR kids weren't defending a cd or type of music, they took the offense as the Black kids shitting on PR culture...on who they were as a people (which I'm sure came from experiences in their lives...both from non-PRs and from the "real" PRs from the island). Because they couldn't articulate what they were feeling, they went straight for what they know.....insults and bigotry.

Annoymous is defending PR musical talents and ingenuity (maybe cuz he doesn't realize we invented Hip Hop too), Sunez is representing the glory years that were 90's NY rap (i.e. all the Biggie and Wu Tang refrences). They both show off their musical historical and technical knowledge, but like the kids, don't know how to articulate what they really mean.

In my mind, the arguements are:

Sunez- PRs (and DRs) are "Original" people (i.e. Black) and therefore shouldn't rally around or hide behind a "wack" type of music (that can't compare to the music he was RAISED with) as means of promoting "ethnic" pride. There is no need to "build bridges" with the DR because it's already been done by others (and naturally would happen because we are all Original Man and Original Woman).

Annoymous- PRs are just as talented as any "other" group of people, and are not only proving that to the world, but are also doing so as means of defending who we are "ethnically" and "nationally" since the Dominicans are now changing how we speak and "control whole parts of PR."

Reggaeton is the arena they choose to use to have a much larger conversation neither one is willing to admit to.

But what do I know, I could be wrong.


Earth Izayaa Allat-- Tierra Izayaa Allat said...

CORRECTION: Sunez's reality of dealing with the truth about the essence of original peoples has nothing to do with the argument.

He's providing you with a musicology argument as to why reggaeton is not a legitimate genre and also as to why its deteriorating the ethics and morals of our people.

By the way Anonymous, Anonimo Consejo are my peeps as well. I lived in Cuba and chilled with them, they did not smoke by the way, and their views on life are very different from what you are portraying. And them niggas, hate reggaeton, you go to Cuba and they straight tell you..

"Esto es hip-hop underground."

They'll tell you the history of how hip hop arrived there in '95 through US radio airways and how they felt it was relevant to their situation living in the island and how Amenaza was the first hip hop group there, latter dissenting to France and becoming a sell-out version of their previous selves with the name Orishas--more marketable right? They hate reggaeton out there and consider it sell-out music. Seku told me that himself. So don't even go there.

You go to Cuba, Mexico, Chile, and they don't call their style of hip hop any other name, but HIP HOP. They are making HIP-HOP, not anything else.

Do not manipulate information to prove a false point. Also, you need to start being disrespectful because Sunez is not coming at you wrong. I bet you, you wouldn't even say none of this to his face. You ain't a man, you an angry little girl.

By the way, Earth Allat is my name. Who I am. So no need for quotations.

Earth Allat.

Anonymous said...

Well to Earth allat, you have conviniently ignored my post once again unfortunately!!!
to the contrary of what you have said about reggaeton in cuba. Reggaeton is actually the most popular music in cuba at the time,however not reggaeton created by puerto ricans , cuban reggaeton or as they call it reggaeton a lo cubano and they have their own sub genre of it, called cubaton.
From more popular artists such as gente de zona and clan 537 to underground reggaetoneros such as los tres gatos. I have to confess cubaton has impressed me.

I am much interested to know Raquel Riveras opinion, please let us know what you think about all of this.

i have been following your blog, and im really excited to see your book in spring.

Earth Izayaa Allat-- Tierra Izayaa Allat said...

El Perso,

I simply have nothing to reply back to you. I responded to anonymous because he's coming out with straight disrespect.

In regards to the reggaeton in Cuba, those from the underground scene have issues with reggaeton. To them, those who are in that scene are sellouts to the revolution and everything else being built by the music. I spoke to Pablo Herrera myself back 2007 and this is what he had to say about it:

"muchas gracias...yo me imagino que la hayas pasado bien aqui en la habana. ahora estoy por aca haciendo un poquito de trabajo de nuevo. como van tus cosas. un abrazo. asi que washington heights. donde en la 137 donde. eso es puro dominicano ahi. como te va con el reggaeton. que tu crees. que se puede hacer. el camino de la musica popular latina me tiene un poco confundido.



te agradezco tu mensaje.
bueno yo pienso lo mismo que tu y pienso mas. me parece que la musiquita esta tiene su valia como musica popular pero como mensaje es solo musica y proyeccion de las nuevas formas de esclavitud. es una pena que la globalisation empiece de esta manera. lo peor es que en cuba tambien esta el mismo virus del turismo y la misma complicacion de la juventud que quiere seguir esas ideas aunque sea a la manera cubana. es dificil escaparse si uno no sabe como es mas facil seguir pensando que ese camino lleva a alguna parte. y ver que lo que viene despues de eso es la gentrification. y luego la explotadera y la otra explotadera nueva como si nunca fuera a cambiar. lo que me ayuda a ver las cosas con esperanza. es que a la vez que esto pasa hay gente haciendo cosas buenas y diferentes. por lo menos en la habana. luchando. haciendo subversion cultural. y trabajando con el corazon. espero que tu tambien estes inspirada. un saludo


FYI: Pablo Herrera was the first hip hop producer in Cuba and the most esteemed. He produced Amenaza, and currently produces Anonimo Consejo and others. He's most known for the authentic Cuban beats he infuses into the music. Pablo is a real brother right there. Cuba keeps it real and doesn't try to call hip hop some other name.


Raquel Z. Rivera said...

I would love to give some input in this conversation, like ElPerso asks. But I'm in the middle of work madness.

What I will say right now is that I'm honored this conversation is happening in this blog. Thank you all.

More soon.

Anonymous said...

I real feel what Hiram said, I think that he has correctly framed the discussion, although I wanted to point out that I don't necessarily see Dominicans taking over PR as a bad thing, although probably most PRs disagree with me. But that's another discussion.

As far as Earth Allat, let me reiterate that I chilled IN THE SCENE and I met A.C. and saw them perform, the point had nothing to do with those talented brothers, it was about the scene in general from Santiago to Habana. My experiences in the scene were chilling at the Cafe in Plaza de La Revolucion, Parque de La Ceiba in Habana Vieja, chilling at the Malecon with various cats on the scene, and the list goes on. I met A.C. once but I don't mention them to claim their friendship, but to reference the scene they were a part of. I know the Cuban hip-hop argument against reggaeton. Trust me I have had this exact argument several times drinking juiceboxes of rum, and it usually got this heated. Their argument had more to do with the way the Cuban government imposes reggaeton on them, but to be honest alot of them would be singing Don Omar with me after a few drinks. Just another sign that the Caribbean reality doesn't line up with your New York musical prejudices. I was not at all trying to associate myself or my viewpoints with the Cuban hip-hop scene, which I have big respect for despite its flaws which most Americans who know about the scene gloss over. I'm responding because I feel you took my mention of Anonimo Consejo out of the context of my post. I think you should re-read my point.

Finally, the disrespect is to the ideas raised on this blog, you should not be catching feelings personally. I don't respect your viewpoints, and following the invitation to discussion I discussed. No hay ma' na'.

Anonymous said...

To raquel, well im lookin forward to read your opinion whenever you have the time to so.

to Earth Allat, i understand where the underground rappers in cuba are coming from, reggaeton has more commercial appeal, because the truth is no matter what, americans and europeans much rather listen to american hip hop than hip hop en espanol, thats a truth that cannot be changed on a whole leve. Also many people and renowned musicians in cuba do not consider hip hop a valid musical style. They see hip hop as much too simplistic and unsophisticated(in a very tropical sense)in comparison to cuban genres such as timba, son. any its too minimalistic for cuban taste. this goes for reggaeton as well, except reggaeton having a caribbean flavor, and being embraced by puerto rico, has been adopted and somewhat modifyed and embraced by former rappers and some musicians mixed with rumba, timba, conga(music from santiago de cuba) to create cuban reggaeton.
which looking at it from a strictly instrumental point of view is more sophisticated than reggaeton in puerto rico. most native cuban music is superior to any western-American forms of music.
And in conclusion to what sunez said that NEW YORK is the mecca of black music, its a false assumption created by the american embargo, reinforced by the birth of salsa.
The real mecca of black music is Havana, and its always been havana.
African forms of music did not dissapear in the carribean the way they vanished in the united states.
Havana, santo domingo, san juan, and many places in south america like callao in lima, have music thats directly descendent from Africa.

Earth Izayaa Allat-- Tierra Izayaa Allat said...

I want to thank Raquel again, for her wonderful space in allowing us to expose our ideas. Life is about ideas and sharing that which is within our being. Only those ideas that go in accordance to the natural laws of human kind will prevail.

With that, I want to say that I enjoyed reading El Perso for his respectful sharing of ideas on this topic and of course to Sunez.

Anonymous, in regards to your argument about Cuban hip hop and the government's forced imposition of reggeaton on the people, this is emphatically not so. Currently, Cuba is experiencing a war of ideas, in which the United States is taking a big part of. One of the ways it is doing this is through the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba, headed by Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez. One of the many attempts at trampling the revolution is through the culture of people, the dismantling of their ethics, morality. Popular culture is one easy venue to penetrate the mind of the youth. So this imposing of the government of reggeaton unto the people, is actually an attempt of those trying to "free" Cuba, of putting in industry music onto the culture of the youth. Read my previous post. Pablo himself, a Cuban living in the island, pro-revolution, a founder of Cuban hip-hop himself says that reggeaton going into their island is a result of globalization. He mentions the effects on the youth, etc.

I'll leave with this: the experience of colonization and ownership over one's identity, one's land, and the result that comes out of this (Vieques destroyed, the attempt at sterilizing Puerto Rican women, etc) affects all aspects of what Puerto Ricaness is. This includes, music, wanting to create something authentically Puerto Rican--I think this is where reggaeton falls and why so much heated debate is going on.

Lost-Found Lesson #2 1-40
Fard Muhammad: "Who is the 85%?"
Elijah Muhammad: " They are the uncivilized people, poison animal eaters, slaves of a mental death and power. People who do not know who the true and living God is or their origin in this world and worship that which they know not. Those who are easily led in the wrong direction but hard to lead in the right direction."

Peace to Raquel--wonderful sister!
Peace to the God, Sunez!
Peace El Perso.

Earth Allat.

SUNEZ said...

Peace El Perso, Anonymous and Hiram and of course, Earth Allat,

Thank you. The thought of the mind and the manifestation of one’s word are the most vital energies one may earn and have a right to witness. I appreciate the responses given that took time and effort. Please read through this carefully as my insights are needing of repetition and a listen.

The words I originally published in my article are deliberately inflammatory and as Raquel noted, incendiary. There is much room for disagreement as we discuss music mixed with the feelings of like and dislike, technical definition and the social, political, spiritual, etc. reality. What should be observed in my words is the usefulness of the stance and perspective along with the proposal that is made. I would not spew such words unless I saw a potential and offered a proposal, however challenging. Still, the potential is never in just music. It is in my people, the Original people of the planet Earth.

The so called “high horse” of Hip Hop roots can only be an excuse to not deal with the understanding I have earned the right to freely express. Beforehand, I sensed rudeness and outright disrespect. This explains the sharpness of my sword’s thrust. My article (hopefully it was read beyond the quotes noted) was not an insult to any of the Original people anywhere on the planet Earth, my only home, yet it may have been taken that way. I have also been dismissed for apparent bias even after I directed people to my resume. I am no mere fan of Hip Hop. I’m one of a handful whom have edited and written for the 3 major Hip Hop magazines and countless others. I’m an established music critic, journalist and scholar, if I am so honored. I’ve lived this culture and documented it. Even after 14 years of experience, I still consulted KRS-One for direction on how to document this culture properly. I’m also not some Brooklyn runner who rocks 5% lingo. I am of the Nation of God and Earth and one of its foremost teachers, in the classroom and the streets. Working with the community and being part of the movement of revolution and enlightenment of my people is my life’s work. While there is no virtue I presume to have acquired here, it must be said that I have seen and taken part in the struggle. We, the Gods, also don’t wear bowties or dashikis unless that’s my brother’s style. The God don’t deal with religion and I don’t believe anything. Hip Hop is not a religion nor is it a true and living culture. If my life is disrespected to try to prove my supposed lack of, or limited perspective then my identity matters and my detractor’s identity being known is proper equality. I don’t need anyone’s identity to make my right and exact points. (“With knowledge of self there’s nothing I can solve”- Rakim) It will only help keep everyone as real as they should be. Do the knowledge, please.

To clarify, many ideas on the technical aspects of music posed against me I do not see. Yet, some of our responses may literally be confusing each other in the process. For instance, I never said salsa doesn’t need melody. In fact, we may argue that melody is a reality of rhythm and only something that European “classical” theory separated to associate melody with their narrow ability and minimize rhythm as our premise. Still, our ancient Moorish roots of true string theory outlines the unity. Latin Jazz and salsa’s similarities are right. However, it is the salsa (especially 80’s til today) that is more reliant on a melody (and hooks) where as Latin Jazz has more of the improvisation of the 60’s and 70’s salsa dura.

El Perso’s threefold criteria of a genre I respectfully don’t see here. They are redundant and only show Reggaeton is a different style but Hip Hop already was expected to have different ideas and perspectives dependent upon where and who makes it. Understand that technically I must say that Reggaeton is a fusion style if we were to properly admit that every place does Hip Hop their own way. For me, the greater capabilities to be expressed from every artist you have mentioned as “Reggaeton” will be to literally DO Hip Hop things. If they expand the musical scope, it will be through digging in the crates (the great way to go here because all the great classic music from the Latin Caribbean, for example, has hardly been mined---Fania Catalog for one!), breakbeat exploration through live instrumentation or a merging of both (i.e. interpolation), etc. A “musical pirate” is the definition of a Hip Hop producer whether from Arabia or Cuba or Queens. If one thinks I am disrespecting Puerto Ricans (in Puerto Rico) reality then you are not reading my understanding.

The divisions of Spanish hip hop not being reggaeton is not technically sound, it is only regional division applied worldwide. When I note Bronx vs. Queens as a case study for reference and growth I’m anti-Willie Lynch. So called Reggaeton artists or anyone that has performed on that dem bow beat is a rapper, the better ones MCs, (i.e. Vico C, Mexicano 777, Tego, Eddie Dee, etc.). To establish Daddy Yankee as once dope only gives Puerto Rico a Murder Mase who turned into Mase. My rugged contention is that these are rappers and thus Hip Hop. Some take it offensively. This is an honor and proper designation.

As an example, jazz man Wynton Marsalis hates Hip Hop as a music. All his parameters to downgrade it musically are completely correct. In fact, if we really see that if we don’t study music and its exploration of improvisation within and without composition, Hip Hop will suffer. It has(i.e. the musical giant today, Kanye West is really a more popular sample mining, grafted version of RZA). Marsalis’ scope is only limited because he has not noted lyricism as the true musical component of note and merit. In my criticisms of the Reggaeton style, I do not see a counter this strong. I am told that the music needs to stay the same. This is not musical pirates taking charge but beat cannibals eating each other’s originality. If you tell me it is the lyricism, you prove only that Puerto Rico has great MCs to offer. That’s Hip Hop. You are all Black and you do Hip Hop too. That’s peace.

Yes, the original “Loiza” is a Reggaeton track and he is rapping over it. As I said in my original article, if he raps well (he does here), he made Hip Hop. Abayarde is a Hip Hop album with Reggaeton styles. Musically, the most innovative songs are the ones that venture beyond the overused dem bow break (i.e. “Bonsai” with the straight Dancehall, “Gracias” with the swift cuts, “Plante Bandera” remaking Tommy Olivencia’s classic with Chamaco, etc.). If Tego only rhymed on the prototype Reggaeton beat you’d never know he could MC as an MC rhymes over anything. One can compare MCs anywhere all over the world. Black Thought rhymes over any type of beat and he gained this ability from the live instrumentation and unpredictability of meter change and pacing thrown at him. One can also compare MCs by the language. It is wrong to dismiss language in music. When a classical opera singer or jazz singer (i.e. Sarah Vaughan) sings, the songs composed for them deliberately utilize “o’s” to accentuate the vocality and beauty. This is why Spanish sings so beautifully and incredibly. There is a reason why it is called a romance language. All music is science and is a manifestation of mathematics. The languages one speaks can hamper or ease the flow an MC uses. The German language is often noted by German MCs themselves for being difficult and awkward to rhyme and they go with English. We also can compare music and musicians of any kind. It may seem unfair to compare Bobby Valentin and Charles Mingus as bass players but we can and acknowledge that the disparity is that Mingus’ performances are harder and show more than Valentin’s. Ask Jerry and Andy Gonzalez or Eddie Palmieri and see why they delve so heavily into Latin Jazz. The musicians, rappers, artists of merit want to be compared with the best, not excused.

I agree Hip Hop was limited in its beginning yet it did not crumble because the producers explored the tools available. All of the MCs (no way around this) in the Reggaeton category, will be rhyming greater when the breaks are not so hampered by a specific sound. If you say that Puerto Ricans there feel that the limiting percussion pattern for mostly every track is a return to tradition, I’m confused. I don’t know what this tradition is. Jazz explores the contours of the drum pattern, never staying there. Funk explores a particular groove and sound going deeper and deeper (i.e. Parliament, JB, Herbie Hancock in the 70’s, etc.) finding new variations within it. Salsa and its Cuban roots all have driving patterns but constantly improvise their breaks and sound. We can go on and on. If it is then Dancehall that you speak of, study Jamaican Dancehall for the repetitive groove and you’ll find lyricism (the Roots revival in themes) is what reignited it.

When we speak of any music’s state or demise we must use our past movements as case studies of insight. Hip Hop is a necessary study here and it is the father of Reggaeton as much as Dancehall is its mother. There is no way around that. If that is properly seen, then we may see that much of my criticism of Reggaeton and the direction I see it must take is exactly what Hip Hop took to prosper. The disrespect, gutter content and savage imagery embraced were all in the South Bronx too. However, the movement developed an ethic of principles, enforced by its leaders (i.e. Afrika Bambaataa and the Zulu Nation), that gave it direction and led to better music. We may even say the same on a musical level for Jazz (Note that it’s also unfair as Jazz had a birthplace of myriad cultures of our people and an extraordinary genius, Louie Armstrong, to come). This ethic of principles, what we know now as the ‘realness’ included the integrity of Originality (i.e. no biting), rebelliousness (not necessarily righteous revolutionary ideals but questioning all status quo including of one’s own group) and showmanship (a performance art of extraordinary skill and talent are the ones allowed to take part). This movement was literally enforced and promoted Hip Hop’s major elements (i.e. grafitti, b-boying, mcing, djing) into a unified culture of expressions. For the real historian, ask anyone in Zulu Nation, especially Bam, where their platform of metaphysical and spiritual insight directly derive from. For those that truly study the patterned origins of MCing, see how the older Gods of the 60’s and 70’s built up in Mount Morris. My history and knowledge of self as God is relevant. I’m qualified to offer a perspective that must be heard and my proposal is a direct challenge to my people that cannot be dismissed. If the principles of direction are not outlined and enforced by actualization there is no movement. This is the proposal of challenge to those in the Reggaeton style. You want to make Reggaeton a movement but where would that movement come from but the mind of one man/woman with a supreme idea to establish principles as the best way to make it. If it’s there, then show and prove it. Don’t continue to embrace a diluted and deteriorating style because it’s yours. Build the child up and make him a man.

In this never asked anyone to pray to Brooklyn. Also, ask Cheo Hodario Coker, co-screenwriter for the Notorious movie, what I think of Biggie. I don’t champion him and I take my understanding to anyone as ME. My insights will be critical or supportive to the truth that I show and prove whether from Medina (BK) or Borinquen. The greats like Ice-T didn’t mimic Brooklyn/New York content to hit but he stepped right in this den and took the props that were rightfully his. Even Eminem came from Detroit to get his props here (I returned the pound he offered me when I was doing college radio back in 97 when his comic/horrorcore raps were new). If you do the knowledge, you’ll see Tego did it too. So realize that the great, the popular and the upcoming acknowledge the roots and do them, earning props from here as MCs. I do not see New York as the Mecca of all music as if all of it is created here. I said in the last century all music comes through New York. It is also excelled and has been brought to its highest levels of awareness and/or musicality. That’s why I noted Jazz as the superior music of this hemisphere (possibly world) the last century. It is from New Orleans (and by Original people melting pot, I meant that wonderful, beautiful free island, Cuba, as one of the distinct gateways) however, the meeting ground, Mecca, of New York was truly vital. I see your understanding that New York as a Mecca is a forced reality but indeed so today.

The arguments of music and its validity often appear as semantics. However, the great Sufis of past lore knew that in music is a transmission and special expression of our deepest understanding. Therefore, when we realize that today, we as a people, have no leaders that speak for us (with Obama we only have someone that looks and stands as us), the music of Hip Hop, with such a blatant forum of wordy expression, has great influence and potential. If the responses have the style and swagger of street corner bombing, it is to force the forum to honor each other with respect. The jewels are still here and they commence…

It is ultimately disingenuous to justify anything for its perverse nature and freedom (i.e. let us drink, smoke, fuck and make babies) then close that with the defense of a burgeoning movement. Where does savagery take us? All that has been noted are problems of the community that seem to have a unifying reality in common, Reggaeton. When grown men in DR go to bars and drink ridiculously, relate their struggles, fears, desires and hopes through that bittersweet island blues of bachata, we haven’t seen a revolution yet or even a movement. We can only say we’ve seen misery loving its company. Most definitely necessary but not a justification and if our subject is youth, we must offer more. Especially when the history of Hip Hop here in New York can be studied for its usefulness socially, politically, spiritually and musically.

Also disingenuous is the dichotomy of Puerto Rico against Americanization (and Dominicanization as Anonymous claims) as if the reality I portray of Reggaeton here is not valid. Let us remember that Reggaeton is here in New York too. When I talk about disunity caused by Reggaeton, that clearly is a New York perspective. I gave the example of Freestyle being incorrectly labeled Latin Hip Hop and how it hurt the genre through separation (i.e. I along with Raquel Rivera have interviewed the Latin MCs here from Kurious to Fat Joe whom have suffered from “latin hip hop” labels). No one can deny the countless MCs rapping in Spanish (from PR too) that complain about Reggaeton and its label hampering them. Tego has complained. Sucio Smash, DJ of Squeeze Radio, has played countless Latin MCs and given forums to their issues with this select problem being raised. Just as commercialized Reggaeton coming from Puerto Rico separates all the brothers and sisters here in America, this commercialized form will reach back into Puerto Rico and infect the so-called refined movement of ass shaking. I jest but there is truth here. The success of diluted forms of a music reach back to the community and give a new validated and weaker form. Hip Hop already suffered and is suffering this.

There are parallels with Bachata here too. While I see Bachata as a worthwhile subgenre, the Dominican Blues, it is greatly disrespected out in DR as lower class. Here in America, only Dominican elders remind anyone of that stigma whereas its popularity among young Dominicans and most other Latinos, is as a vibrant, soulful modern ballad to groove to. In my original article, I noted (with the example of New Orleans music festivals) that the imagery we have of our people as makers of savage music to wildly go off is largely unfounded. How corrupted by capitalism are we that we defend our products by deprecating our people? Here in New York, when Tego rhymes, girls and boys don’t grind so much. They gotta listen. It’s Hip Hop. In 1978, the greatest selling album of all time was released in the disco era, Willie Colon y Ruben Blades’ Siembra. Blades speaks many times of people not dancing during his performances but just listening, fully engaged with his lyricism. I’ve seen Blades live. He easily can move a crowd. Yet this is the direction any people must make musically for a movement to commence. You want your own brand of denatured Hip Hop or a movement? You won’t have both.

All music is pimped out ridiculously and I have already pointed out that commercialization in this technological information age speeds up the selling out of a genre faster (i.e. while jazz took 50 years for it be co-opted, hip hop took only 15 years—yes, ask Raquel, I said Hip Hop was dead in 1999). It is hard to speak for a whole genre and the generalization is not to insult every artist. Just as NaS noted it, it is to inspire its peak of power again, which has wavered and cannot be denied. There is a need to build bridges. Proper identity of what we make leads to a proper knowledge of self, who we are. These bridges must have a strong foundation of growth and development not be planks of isolated ownership. These bridges do not naturally occur (there is no mystery God to come and give us food) so they must be built by a knowing of the roots and studying the branches that are being made.

Sunez Allah

Anonymous said...

There's alot there, but I'm going to put out 3 thoughts and call it a day.

1. Sunez, Your Hip-Hop pedigree seems excellent. Your Reggaeton pedigree does not. You have valid points, but you lack a complete frame of reference to be able to offer a learned opinion on the genre/subgenre/label of wretched waste. When you dig in the crates a big more and get a stronger grasp on the history of the music, I think your analysis will be incredibly interesting. But I think you're talking about PR Day Parade on 5th Avenue reggaeton, and I'm talking about reggaeton en la residencial. It's not the same thing.

2. I reference the whole bow-tie/dashiki/Brooklyn thing because you and Earth Allat have been injecting resumes and religions into your disrespect of reggaeton. Don't take it as a disrespect of your lifestyle, but if you used it in the attack it can be used in the defense. As far as my identity, I have my reasons for being Anonymous just as you have your reasons for putting your stuff out there.

3. The point of your last post is that Reggaetoneros are Hip-Hop. That is an acceptable argument. What's not is the following, which started this:
"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." Again, refer to point #1. There's alot you're not seeing, and there's no substitute for you going out and spending the energy you're using to tear down to instead build up your understanding. Even if you come out the same way, you're arguments will only be more poignant.

TO Earth Allat: as it was explained to me, Cuban hip-hop was endorsed by the government to a certain extent, most notably with paid jobs. When reggaeton came around, most of those jobs went to reggaetoneros because the government felt that reggaeton was a safer form of music, whereas Cuban hip-hop had a penchant for challenging the state. That's why I said that the Cuban government forced Cuban-made reggaeton, as a replacement for the dangerous elements of hip-hop.

But in PR it was reggaeton that was prosecuted, CD's confiscated and banned by the police, reggaetoneros arrested. It was reggaeton that was seen by the imperial order as a threat. It was reggaeton that had the loudest outcry against Filiberto's murder, Manuel Caceres' murder, Mano dura police brutality, and the Imperial status quo. Reggaeton is not a single child of hip-hop and dancehall, but a Sancocho with new elements constantly being added and altered. There's too much sazon criollo in that pot, though, for me to accept that it is anything but the modern expressions of a colonized people crying out, in protest/pleasure/pain, the rhythm and melody of life on the island. Despite people constantly decrying the death of reggaeton (usually people from NY), it remains powerful, and this is due to the fact that in PR the genre has roots that remain intact and have outlasted the comings and goings of different artists and fads. You would have to really know the syllabus to understand that. But I'm sure Raquel can put you on!

Anonymous said...

Dear Sunez you definitely have the right to freely express yourself, and i have no doubt in your qualifications or scholastic approach, however i doubt that your judgment about reggaeton inst clouded man, i say your coming from a very legitimate but one-sided stand point. May be your looking at it from a very hip hop centric angle, and no im not implying your a hip hop lover, i just think you genuinely dont see any use in reggaeton, and have no sympathy for it if it goes away tommorow.

So let me start responding to your letter.
", I’m confused. I don’t know what this tradition is. Jazz explores the contours of the drum pattern, never staying there. Funk explores a particular groove and...."
in answer to that reggaeton is also doing the same thing, for example by incorporating different snares every four bars, or incorporating different layers of percussion such as double kicks and/or using very different kicks and snares very often, or mixing the dembow with layers of other different percussion, from dirty south to rumba . now these might seem little to you, but for four years of mainstream exposure, and for a music thats being produced in mainstream by a tiny island of puerto rico until recently , thats quite allright if not impressive
now reggaeton being a synthisized based music wouldve been impossible to create earlier, which is also what reggaeton offers, in the age of trance and hip hop, reggaeton is definately the most traditional synth based music out there, and finally jazz percussion is in no way traditional, its actually very modern, jazz in general has a very modern/urban feel and background to it. Which brings us to salsa dura and latin jazz,Well even though you find similarities between salsa dura and latin jazz, there are some very profound differences, Latin Jazz resembles jazz fully in melody but in percussion it borrows from son cubano in contrast to salsa dura where the melodies(melody patterns) are a direct descent of mambo of the 50's and son cubano and cha cha of the 60's.
as your reference where hip hop was expected to have different ideas, i wasnt aware of that, hip hop wasnt diversified until at least 10 years into its existance, and to this day all hip hop follows the same main snare pattern(a snare hits on every 1st step of even bars), plus all hip hop is breakbeat, from New York Hip Hop to hyphy in the bay area and crunk in the south.
One other intersting thing you mentioned was about hip hops lyricism and musical aspect. which you declare that lyricism is what makes hip hop stand out, and you have definitely stressed your claims Rappers and MC's make hip hop stand out and not the percussion. now my question is what if a rapper, raps to an all rock song(like Ice Tee regularly did with his heavy metal band)? would that sill be hip hop? thats where i disagree with you, it wouldnt be hip hop. Hip Hop gave birth to the MC, but MC is just a vocal style like singing, and its not exclusive to Hip Hop, therefore Loiza with a dembow, is a Reggaeton song indeed.
Reggaeton has borrowed and copied the MC from hip hop. and now used it as an urban expression. musically speaking Reggaeton and hip hop are both percussion driven(drum machine lol) and minimalistic,while hip hop is much more minimalistic, and it survives through its broken beat. Reggaeton is the opposite, its percussion is more complex in contrast usually full of timbales and hi hats and follows a pattern similar to the pattern in slowed down merengue and soca.
Reggaetons hi hats and timbals give the same oppurtunity to any rapper to spit lyrics as hip hops break beat. the problem is Reggaeton is a very club driven and oriented music just like Hip Hop was too, hip hop was born in block parties and for a long time exclusive to block parties. Give reggaeton time, hopefully new talents will stop rappin about girls and cars. i hope so.

at the end i sincerely agree with many of your criticisms, but i have to say your judgement as a whole is incorrect about reggaeton.

PS. I absolutely don't agree with you that jazz is the greatest musical achievement in the west coast. to say that is to ignore completely the role havana and cuba has had in developing music. Son i believe is the greatest musical achievement in the 20th century.

Peace, ElPerso

Anonymous said...

lol correction i didnt mean "west coast", i meant the western hemisphere, wow west coast haha,

Marisol LeBron said...

I have to agree with what Hiram said in some ways, a pissing contest if I've ever seen/read one. The masculinist overtones in this post are way too intense for me. Frankly, as a queer Nuyorican woman the whole back and forth between ElPerso, Earth Allat, Sunez, and the anonymous poster is pretty absurd at this point and does not speak to my relationship with reggaeton as a genre or what I think is interesting about it as a cultural artifact.

I personally enjoy reggaeton for a number of reasons including that I like to shake my ass to it, but as a scholar reggaeton offers a plethora of material implications to work through.

One of the things that I personally like about reggaeton is the way that it traces a number of routes/roots in contemporary Caribbean music. What irritated me a bit about this conversation is that it in many ways re-articulated the dominant idea that reggaeton, hip hop, dancehall, etc are only either Black or Latino/a, or are at best to be understood as solely Afro-Latino. While more and more folks are talking about the racial hybridity in those genres, the presence of Asian diasporic populations in the Caribbean is woefully under threorized.

For example, Chutney emerged in Trinidad along side Soca and both influenced each other in a number of ways. If we acknowledge Soca as a part of reggaeton and dancehall's circuitry then we need to move beyond these racial essentialist notions of authenticity and ownership claims to genres. Check out Los Kalibres and notice how notions about who and what reggaeton and Spanish language hip hop looks like and where it lives disappear. Would we be willing to even think the unthinkable...that reggaeton might live in Tokyo in three Japanese Peruvian cats?

All the commentators on the post are each trying to define how reggaeton should be understood and related to according to certain notions of what is authentic urban, P.O.C., Latino/a, and/or Black culture. This is a very narrow conversation about reggaeton and its impact and potential.

To me I'm interested in reggaeton's articulations that explode static notions of culture, particularly around race, gender, sexuality, and class expectations within the genre. So I am interested in the Asian diasporic presence in the so-called reggaeton subgenre of bhangraton, I'm am also incredibly interested in the recent aesthetic shift to hipsterism in some reggaeton videos, for example Eloy's "Fuera la Planeta," Khriz & Angel's "Na De Na," and Dalmata's "Dia de mi Suerte," which bust the illusion that all reggaetoneros are from the caserios (when is you've read this blog before and seen Raquel's phenomenal work around class and socio-economic conditions in reggaeton that is hardly the case) or that they need to be "hard" 24/7 to get respect.

I respect the conversation that is happening here, but I think we're getting mired in issues of racial/cultural authenticity that are stagnating the way we experience and discuss reggaeton.


Marisol -- a Nuyorican homo hip hop and reggaeton head

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, Cuban government forces reggaeton on unmwilling population. I don't really buy that. If you look at how reggaeton got big (pirated CDs), it's hard to see a conspiracy behind it. As Pablo Herrera said, it's globalization. No different in Cuba than anywhere else. The biggest names in reggaeton in Cuba have had problems with the government - Eduardo Mora (Eddy-K) talked about a crusade against reggaeton when he defected and arrived in Miami. I think most of Cuba's top politicians hate reggaeton but there's only so much they can do about it. Despite rumors to the contrary, Fidel isn't omnipotent...

timbaTV said...

Thanks for this fascinating discussion. I'm currently working on a film that has Cuban Reggaeton as a central focus. I can affirm that the Cuban government has not pushed reggaeton on the public, quite the opposite. Attempts were made to control the spread of reggaeton on the local and national level. Of course that just made reggaeton more popular with young Cubans. The Cuban reggaetoneros can be credited with developing a distinctive brand of Cubanized reggaeton that helped them gain a bit of respect, except from Cuban hip-hop musicians!

Anonymous said...

When I mentioned reggaeton being pushed by the government, I was not saying that the government was pushing reggaeton onto the people, but that they preferred that hip-hop musicians do reggaeton instead of hip-hop when it came to the government-paid positions offered to rappers. This was because when several artists on the island began to criticize the government, the government began to sour on Cuban hip-hop. The context was a hip-hop artist explaining to a group of Puerto Ricans in Cuba why people in the Cuban hip-hop movement dislike reggaeton, because the government has pushed it as an alternative to hip-hop. The music's popularity comes from the people, that's blatantly obvious, what I'm saying is that globalization brought it there and the gov. was more comfortable with reggaeton than hip-hop. I wasn't arguing that there was a government conspiracy to push reggaeton, that would make no sense.

I am not Cuban and Cuba can be a very hard place to figure out, so it's possible I could be wrong about this. But this opinion comes after spending alot of time on the island and sifting through disinformation, which if you know anything about Cuba is an obstacle.

I just wanted to say, I was the first one to say that this had turned into a macho pissing contest! But I had to rain on Sunez' Haterade Parade. Do not put up arrogant posts about musical elitist and expect for everyone to sign up for it. And in regards to the Cuban brother's quote about reggaeton being a modern form of slavery, IT IS MUSIC, the meaning you attach to it determines what it is. Anything can be slavery depending how you look at it.

Anonymous said...

Reggaeton is slavery lol,
thats the most ironic statement ive heard in a while,

Anonymous said...

well, that was interesting

regarding flow
i get sick of hearing that spanish is easier to rhyme in because of the vowel endings

there is a lot more to the flow than just making the ends match
a good artist rapping in spanish can create a very complex sound, not just making the ends sound alike but using the more percussive sounds of the language

i wouldnt say spanish rap is more melodious as english tends to utitlize more open mouthed sounds where spanish artists tend to do a lot more popping, clicking and scraping. LOL, there are technical terms, but thats how i think of it.

to me, english rap uses the stops netween words changes in pitch and volume to manage the flow and intensity because of the tendency to croon. one can hear an artist totally acapella and not detect the rhythm of the song

in most reggaeton, i would say that the rythym is not distinct from the lyrics and you can READ them and hear what the beat
sounds like
i like that

perhaps people who only listen to music in english think of it as cheating because its so easy
but for me, maelo is the perfect person to compare many rappers to

"tonga la songa mamasanga..."
"metele sazon bateria reggaeton..."
perhaps not masterpieces of lyricism, but easy to recall examples of sounds I enjoy

i liken it to doowop and scatm and think it takes a lot of skill to get the consonants all juuuuust right to give the lyrics that POP

awkward is subjective, it is awkward if you expect spanish to sound like english or if you think the intended audience expects to hear rap in spanish that has the prosody of english

for me its like comparing free jazz to dixie land jazz, we cant measure using the same standards. while i see hiphop and reggaeton as part of the same tradition, i think it is a mistake to judge reggaeton as if it were english language hiphop

(ismael is the rakim of soneros! I like that since I think of rappers as being the Maelos of hiphop, and not the reverse

i wasnt even aware that maelo was underappreciated! he is El Sonero Mayor)

I hate this tiny little comment box, I cant see what i have already written enough to edit it well! :)

Anonymous said...

im still looking forward to some input from you miss rivera

Raquel Z. Rivera said...

Ok, ElPerso. Here it goes:

I have mixed feelings about this debate.

I know battling and competition are time-honored traditions. And they can be productive and beautiful. But once things get heated, once things get way too tense, once puyas or even straight-out insults start flying around...

I get nervous. I get disappointed. And I wonder if the debating is worth it. I wonder if its worth it when we're often talking at each other instead of to each other.

I'm a writer because I think words and communication and empathy can make us stronger. So I get flustered and sad when I see communication breakdowns between folks that, in my eyes, are (or should be) on the same side. (Folks that, if we disagree, we should be able to respectfully disagree.)

I'm still grateful for the discussion. I've learned tons and have had great opportunities to question my own thinking. I'm inspired by the passion and commitment of all of you to stand by your words. And sometimes these debates even make me wonder if I should be more aggressive in getting my own points across.

But why should I be more aggressive when my heart is much more interested in figuring out how to best facilitate dialogue? Maybe the challenge for me is to figure out how to intervene sooner or in a different way in the interest of mediating and facilitating the communication.

I'm particularly grateful to the folks that wrote me privately and told me they weren't interested in getting caught up in a debate that was turning sour; I asked you to throw your comments in there anyway (hoping it would dilute the sourness) and you did.

This debate, more than anything else, has gotten me thinking about communication styles. And I have to say it's Marisol's comment that has touched me the most: criticizing what she felt needed to be criticized, then moving on to what makes reggaeton important/relevant for her. In her words, I sense a combination of clarity, fearlessness and commitment to both challenge and dialogue, that I want to learn from.

The other thing I want to do is a run-through of what for me have been the jewels in this conversation. More soon.

Anonymous said...

I agree completely with Anonymous. I could've made a big response but he basically has said it all. Props to him.

Ya should stop with the hateration, it's pointless because at the end of the day ya are English hip hop lovers [as is the typical NuyoRican] and we are Spanish reggaeton lovers [as are Boris directamente de la isla].

I grew up in NY and am Puerto Rican and it's disappointing to read this. Why so much hostility towards reggaeton? Sure, it may be danced in a certain way but guess what, I remember every mofo @ my JHS prom in Brooklyn dancing the same damn way to Diddy, Nelly and all other kinds of English rap lol. Stop acting like we are in the stone age and can't control ourselves, LOL. It's just dancing, Jesus Christ. You acting like you're an outsider and not Latino and don't know that.

I'm so glad Spanish speaking, urban young people have music that we can call our own and artists we can relate to. And please don't come at me with people like Fat Joe who are NuyoRicans who don't speak Spanish. Big Pun was nice but guess what, looking for Spanish music, not English. This whole roast of reggaeton sounds like it's coming from a typical NY Rican angle which is, of course, biased. And not to mention [like Anonymous said] it seems your reggaeton knowledge is reggaeton from the 5th Ave parade.

Raquel Z. Rivera said...

Hi Jennifer. Thanks so much for commenting.

But I think it's important not to exagerate the NY/PR split. Reggaeton wouldn't have gotten as big (worldwide) as it did without US Puerto Rican (& others) support.

And, speaking of not playing up the differences, what do you mean: "And please don't come at me with people like Fat Joe who are NuyoRicans who don't speak Spanish."

Are the opinions or music of NY Puerto Ricans "who don't speak Spanish" (like it's spoken in PR, I'll add) any less valid than the opinions or art of PR-raised Puerto Ricans? If that's what you mean, then I strongly disagree.

Anonymous said...

I read your comment raquel , and i apologize if i engaged in that sort of behavior, i was trying to bring my perspective in to the discussion,
im still awaiting your personal thought on the discussion,
thank you

Anonymous said...

By the Fat Joe comment I just meant that Fat Joe makes English music... for English speakers. Compared to, say, Tego who makes music for Spanish speakers. And by Fat Joe speaking Spanish I didn't mean speaking it with the island accent, I meant actually knowing the Spanish language, which he doesn't. [Which alot of NY Ricans don't but that's a little off topic.] I just found it hilarious that the 90's Fat Joe, Big Pun, and Tony Touch were all brought up early in this conversation.

Anyway, the person doing the criticizing of reggaetón seems to completely miss the fact that Reggaetón/Latin Hip Hop is for a Spanish speaking audience. He's quoting rappers from NY, saying Spanish language hip hop/reggaetón is below English language hip hop because supposedly Spanish is easier to rhyme in, etc etc. C'MON that's such an American raised person thing to say. Biased. I'm not surprised NY Ricans get hassled in PR when "I live in my own little bubble" comments like that are made lol. Wake up, not every Rican/Latin person that knows English prefers speaking it/listening to English music! I grew up in Brooklyn just like him and prefer many types of Spanish music: Reggaetón, Merengue, Bachata, Salsa over English Hip Hop lol.

Nobody has to like Reggaeton but please comprehend the simple fact that it's made by Spanish speakers for Spanish speakers. It's huge and basically has always been huge in Latin America, South America, PR, DR, Cuba... but what would this guy who's hating say to the people in those countries? "Hey you guys, English hip hop is superior, listen to it, this is garbage -- It's so easy to rhyme in this language of yours -- Tego wouldn't be *bleep* in Brooklyn -- go listen to some Rakim if you wanna hear some real music!"

Raquel Z. Rivera said...

Michelle M. Rivera is a doctoral student in communications who gave a great paper in 2007 at the Latin American Studies Association. It's a paper I'm looking forward to seeing in print titled: "Movimiento Anti-reggaetón: Revealing Discourses in Cyberspace." She wrote me an email which she agreed I could share here. She writes:

"Thanks for referring me to the very intriguing debate that ensued on your blog. I was reading through it just now and one thing I pulled from what Hiram said that made me instantly concur was...

'Reggaeton is the arena they choose to use to have a much larger conversation neither one is willing to admit to.'

Ultimately, I think this was the fuel behind my LASA paper. It becomes quickly evident in the heated debates on reggaeton that I've encountered online that there is a strong current of very culturally relevant, deep-seeded, almost palpable tensions that surface in the midst of it all--be it gender, race, ethnicity, national identity, or other intermingled/intersectional politics and power dynamics. It is so interesting to me that it is in these (I'd argue-- productive) spaces of conflicts over provocative touchstones precisely like
reggaeton that we can reveal much of what obviously goes unsaid for far too long...that larger conversation. It sometimes masks itself in insults and mud-flinging, but under the muck of it all there are real deep discussions to be had about this cultural stealing/cultural borrowing, how the politics of appropriation make us feel, how these
purist discussions on music speak to other essentialist notions about race and ethnicity, and on top of it where class/urban authenticity fits in, not to mention the gender and sexual tensions...which is what I focused on mostly in my LASA presentation. I of course don't know
precisely what steps we can take to turn these debates into that larger conversation, but reggaeton is definitely that spark, that touchstone, and that provocateur--it has all of the makings in its history, and trajectory, and now crossover to get people talking."

Anonymous said...

Thanks Jennifer, that is if I am the same Anonymous ghost that wrote the posts you agree with.

Kevin said...

Lots of love to the heated debaters. If nothing else, my harddrive going be buckling as i dig deep for all the tracks mentioned above. Appreciated.

Anonymous said...

You're the man Sunez, I can't even critique anyone's flow because I could never listen to 1 minute of Reggaeton before turning it off completely.

It's a joke.