Reggaeton Is So Much More Than Party Music. This Podcast Breaks Down Its Political Roots


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In 2021, reggaeton sits at the center of global pop music. Bad Bunny was Spotify’s most-streamed artist of last year, while artists like J Balvin, Farruko and Karol G rack up hundreds of millions of YouTube views a month. With its booming beats and brash lyrical flows, the genre connotes glamour, sex and tropical bliss; it’s the soundtrack to nightclubs across the world.

But reggaeton, with its working class roots, anti-government impulses and strained relationship with the major label system, is so much more than party music. These oft overlooked aspects have been at the center of Loud, a 10-episode Spotify podcast which began airing in August. “The real story of reggaeton is about la resistencia. Resistance,” the podcast’s host Ivy Queen, herself a major reggaeton star, says in the first episode. “About how kids who were young or poor, Black or dark-skinned—kids who were discriminated against in every way—how we refused to be quiet.”
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The joy and defiance of Loud, combined with its rich historical details and impressive access to first-person sources, make it one of the best podcasts of the year. On Wednesday, the podcast’s final dropped on Spotify. Here are the main takeaways from the season.

The complex origins of reggaeton

While reggaeton is most strongly associated with 21st century Puerto Rico, Loud starts its history of reggaeton in an unlikely setting: 1904 Panama. That year, the U.S. entered that country in order to build a canal that would connect Atlantic and Pacific trade routes. To build the canal, the U.S. imported workers from across the West Indies, including Jamaica and Barbados, making Panama City a multilingual, multicultural melting pot.

In the 1980s, descendants of those original Black workers started to bring dancehall—an updated version of Jamaican reggae—into Panamanian sound system parties. Performers like Renato soon found that if they spoke to the predominantly Spanish-speaking audience in their…



Source : time


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