Kesi Asher, Staff Reporter
VARIOUS COUNTRIES have adapted to the cross-cultural rhythms of reggaeton, and Jamaica is no exception.
Mr. Vegas is currently working with reggaeton gurus Luney-Tunes and will feature on the album Luney-Tunes Volume 2 with the song Oh Johnny. Vegas recently finished the shoot for the video.
Mr. Vegas told The Sunday Gleaner that "the Latin market embraces Vegas, the Spanish market is my biggest market". He further stated that the reggaeton remixed version of his song Papito was recently released and is now playing on the major radio stations in Puerto Rico.
He added that some of his other songs, such as Heads High, Hot Gal Fi Dem (featuring Sean Paul) and Pull Up were all done over by reggaeton artistes. He has also done a collaboration with reggaeton artiste Don Omar, Remix Gasolina.
"The reggaeton artistes work together, unlike dancehall where every man want to be the man on top... When I go to Puerto Rico I see di whola di man dem a work together; they are helping each other and the music is stronger," said Mr. Vegas.
Sasha also did a reggaeton collaboration with Ivy Queen in 2004, Sexy Body. Sasha did the English version of the song and did the remix with Ivy Queen in Spanish. "I've opened the entire Latin American market with that one song. The song was number one on The Roof," she said.
Sasha believes that the rise of reggaeton should wake up Jamaican artistes. "I'm not hatin' on it, I'm actually lovin' it. If we have our thing and we playin' with it, other people are gonna love it and go for it and I say go for it," said Sasha.
She recently did another reggaeton song called Move My Body. "It's a comfort zone for me right now, since I've been doing it for the past three years. I'm actually getting ready to do a whole reggaeton album," said Sasha.
Tanto Metro and Devonte are featured on Cuban/American singjay Mey Vidal's remix of The Tide is High. Teflon recently did Need Your Love on the same rhythm. In addition, Stevie Face and I-Octane did Good Time on a reggaeton rhythm. Mey Vidal has done a reggaeton remake of John Holt's Tide is High.
Stevie Face and I-Octane have stepped up to the new challenge of the reggaeton beat. "It's not very different from dancehall and I think Jamaican artistes should seize this opportunity," said Stevie Face. I-Octane found it easy. "It's a new experience for me, it's great. It's easy to deejay on this rhythm because the drum pattern is the same as the dancehall songs," he said.
Phillip Linton, co-producer for Move My Body, The Tide is High remix, Need Your Love, and Good Time, thinks the reggaeton rhythm is all about dancing and grooving. "They actually sample off our old drum patterns, that groovy type of rhythm, and it's working. I don't think Jamaican artistes should worry about it, because they have just got a piece of the pie. They can only fuse with us and we with them," said Linton.
Phillip Linton is also a director at Arrows Recording Studio, where he produces reggaeton and other rhythms. He believes that collaboration is healthy for the industry. "We should collaborate, because it will enhance reggae music, which will expand in a wider community, like the Latin community," Linton said.
Reggaetón has rapidly merged into mainstream American music. Jennifer Lopez has recorded a track with Pharrell Williams, produced by top reggaeton duo Luny-Tunes. Rapper Jay-Z collaborated with Hector 'El Bambino' on his upcoming album.
In addition, the three reggaeton legends, Daddy Yankee, Tego Calderon and Don Omar, performed at the MTV Video Music Awards in September. It was the first time that reggaeton was broadcast worldwide on such an event.
The genre has grown so much in recent years that it was given its own category at the Latin Billboard Awards. Reggaeton pioneers, Luny-Tunes, have written and produced for virtually every reggaetón artiste, including Tego Calderón, Don Omar, Zion & Lennox, Wisin & Yandel, Voltio and many others.
Luny-Tunes also has a current hit on R. Kelly's album, Burn It Up, and a track on Ricky Martin's English release, which they co-produced with the Black Eyed Peas' Will, I Am, featuring the Peas. The team also did a song for Sean Paul's new album, Oh Men, which features Daddy Yankee. Nina Sky has also published a new Latin Mixtape album.
"Reggaeton is doing good, big labels offer a lot of money and sales go up. Reggaeton has a future, because everybody is doing it. Ricky Martin is in, it's going to be even bigger," said Luney. He said "Since Sean Paul's song was released on the radio, everybody has been calling in and requesting it. The song features Daddy Yankee and Luney-Tunes."
Reggaeton artiste Phillip, who is half-Puerto Rican, half-Jamaican (Jamaican grandmother), has done a remix with Frankie J called Obsession. He has also done a collaboration with N.O.R.E and Busta Rhymes' Flip Mode Squad called Activao. "The reggaeton movement has filled a big hole; like dancehall, it has taken over like a massive wave. It's like a ghetto music for the world, just like dancehall is a ghetto music for Jamaica," said Phillip.
He continued: "I am looking forward to doing a Jamaican/ Puerto Rican link-up. I want to do a lot more collaborations with the essence of reggae. We all gotta work together." Phillip says he has work coming with deejay Vegas.
DJ Felix Sama from Mega 94.9, labelled 'Reggaeton's main radio station', feels that the catch phrases in reggaeton make it radio-friendly. As a result, there are frequent requests. The most requested songs, according to DJ Sama, are Ven Daila Lo (Kris & Angel), Gasolina and Lo Que Paso (Daddy Yankee), Yo Voy (Zion & Lennox) and Metele Sazon (Tego Calderon).
As a promoter, he believes that reggaeton will be around for a while, as it expands into different areas, like 'Spanglish'. "Reggaeton and dancehall go hand in hand; it only makes sense because it will appeal to a wider market, bringing the best of both worlds," said Sama.
Reggaeton, also spelt reggaetón, blends reggae, dancehall, hip hop, rap and salsa. The first reggae recordings in Latin America were made in Panama in the mid-1970s. A large number of Jamaican immigrants, brought in to build the Panama Canal, introduced reggae music to the local population.
El General, Nando Boom, Chicho Man, Rene Renegado, Black Apache are considered the first ragamuffin deejays from Panama. Reggaeton was considered a musical style relegated mostly to Puerto Rican ghettos for most of the last 15 years.
Reggaeton production took off seriously in Panama in the early 90s. It was common practice to translate an original Jamaican reggae song (the same melody and rhythm, but with translated lyrics). Towards the middle of the decade, Puerto Ricans were producing their own 'riddims', with clear influences from hip hop and other styles. These are considered the first proper reggaeton tracks, initially called 'under', shortened from 'underground'.
Reggaeton expanded and became known when producers such as DJ Playero and DJ Nelson came on the scene. In the mid 90s, Playero 37 (in which Daddy Yankee became widely known) was very popular in Puerto Rico and The Dominican Republic. Another song which introduced reggaeton to a large number of fans is Tra Tra by Don Chezina. Before reggaeton blew up big throughout the world in 2003, many producers (who are the biggest today) such as Noriega, Luney-Tunes Tunes and Eliel, first appeared.
The year after would be when reggaeton broke big, with N.O.R.E.'s Oye Mi Canto and Daddy Yankee's Barrio Fino, the Spanish for 'refined ghetto', and his hit Gasolina. Bario Fino was his sixth CD.
Reggaeton has spread to Germany and Austria. 'Dancehall meets Reggaeton' is the motto of the common project from Bassrunner, one of the most loved sound systems of Austria, and Germaican Records, Germany's premium dancehall label.
According to Lloyd Stanbury, entertainment lawyer and reggaeton producer, reggaeton is now getting regular airtime on mainstream urban and pop radio and TV in the USA, such as BET, MTV and VH1, Hot 97 in New York and Power 96 in South Florida. "Music is a mission, not a competition," said Mr. Stanbury.
And in that vein, it seems that reggaeton and reggae make good musical colleagues.