Reggaeton’s History Is Complex. A New Podcast Helps Us Hear This


In the first part, the project unequivocally emphasizes the genre’s Afro-Caribbean origins and defiant beginnings: “For some people, reggaeton is just party music. But the real story of reggaeton is about la resistencia. Resistance,” Ivy Queen states sharply. “It’s about how we refuse to be quiet, young or poor, black or dark-skinned – children who are discriminated against in every way – reggaeton, putting an exclamation point in the show’s larger argument as the episode concludes. He stated that ‘ is a “black voice that has its roots in the English-speaking world”.

It is a position statement about the music’s creators, ethos, and identity that holds true throughout the series’ continuation. There is no shortage of rebellion in “Loud”. This is a project that draws audiences to opposition.

She describes how underground artists struggled against the criminalization they faced in Puerto Rico in the ’90s and early 2000s when police raided housing projects and confiscated tapes from record stores under the guise of curbing drugs and violence. It depicts the fearlessness of Tego Calderón, who performed pro-black reggaeton anthems and burned the public consciousness by denouncing colonialist thought. It reminds me of how Anglo record labels and radio stations stumbled while trying to monetize a movement they didn’t understand and couldn’t tame. For an industry that often sees its arrival in the United States as proof of eventual career triumph, this narrative axis is as healing as it is urgent.

“Loud” owns the rights to most of the music it analyzes, and he knows it’s a gold mine. In one episode, the show shows how game-changing producers Luny Tunes infused reggaeton with melody and strings through the lens of Ivy Queen’s virtuosity. “Te He Querido Te He Llorado.” Listening to the episode, as the song’s bachata guitar and dembow drums cut each other under Ivy’s throaty wail, I stood up and didn’t specifically tell anyone her cry of resentment and heartbreak.

But “Loud” also addresses the difficult parts of this music’s history: the homophobia embedded in the Shabba Ranks’ music. “Dem Yay” serving as the percussion basis of the genre; defamation of music leading to government censorship campaigns in Puerto Rico; and the racist and classist bias of the traditional Latino media that did not cover reggaeton acts at the beginning of its mainstream rise. A few moments surrounding the genre’s history would benefit from further reflection here; For example, a discussion of the racial ideology of the mestizaje is a bit too short to cover the subject in sufficient depth.

Of course, it’s impossible to paint a full portrait of any popular music genre throughout a podcast. And reggaeton is a form of transformation, a movement that rejects stagnation and is constantly reinvented throughout its existence. “Loud” asks us to reconsider the collective stories we hear about music at marquesina parties that shaped our early understanding of the contours of music. It erodes Reggaeton’s canon, urging us to take a closer look at its depth and the rebellion it promised from the start. It forces us to listen to reggaeton in a complex way – as much complexity as music and its history have in the first place.


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