It looks like summer has finally arrived here, and our thoughts turn to Caribbean music as usual – the sun-kissed charms of reggae, soca and dancehall. But there’s another flavour out there which has been getting a lot of attention lately – Reggaeton. So since this week also sees the release of Prime Loops’ new sample pack Reggaeton Heatwave, we thought we’d take a look in more detail!
Reggaeton is a pretty recent phenomenon; it came up through the 1990′s and early 2000′s in Puerto Rico and Panama. It’s not really sonically related to traditional reggae at all – although you can trace a link. Instead, it’s a hybrid of Dancehall, Hip-Hop, and traditional Latin sounds, frequently sung in Spanish. Very much an urban form of music in South America, it had gangster leanings for a long while, before taking on the charts worldwide more recently.
The main link to Reggae comes through the rhythms – but we’re talking Dancehall Reggae here. That classic rhythm that runs through all Reggaeton is known as the ‘Dem Bow’; from the Shabba Ranks tune of the same name. But really, it’s just a ‘clave’ beat with an extra kick drum – otherwise known as a 3 on 2 polyrhythm, which is the bedrock of pretty much all Dancehall tunes, and now heard in a lot of UK Funky tracks too. World music fans will also recognise it from all sorts of traditional rhythms from African to Cuban music. Reggaeton just swings it a bit more, to get a bit more funk and swagger in there.
There were two main tunes that really catapulted Reggaeton into the mainstream. The first was Daddy Yankee’s ‘Gasolina’ which was a worldwide smash in 2004 – it went top 10 everywhere from Norway to Australia. Niche island music this was no longer.
The other track that really helped break things was N.O.R.E with ‘Oye Mi Canto’. As a rapper with Latino heritage, N.O.R.E. wanted to do something that could appeal to the inner-city Latin kids as well as his established fanbase. As such, the track is part in English, part in Spanish, full of Latin sounds and melodies, and won the genre a whole host of new fans who saw how it could work in a Hip-Hop style.
But it took another innovator to really bring things to the attention of the underground dance music kids – step forward Dave Nada. Dave had already been making waves in dance music with his Baltimore tracks, alongside contemporaries such as Tittsworth and DJ Class, but it was when he started taking house bangers (like Afrojack’s remix of Moombah) – slowed them down to about 108BPM, layering Reggaeton beats over the top and creating – you guessed it – Moombahton. Moombahton has gone on to become a huge underground genre in its own right, and anyone into dance music will have heard of it.
So as you can see, in 2013 Reggaeton is essential party fuel! Whether you’re aiming at the clubs or the chillout sessions, you can use it as a jumping-off point into Dancehall, Hip Hop, Slow House, R’n'B and more. Which means Reggaeton Heatwave should be in your producer’s arsenal – grab it now from Prime Loops!
Categories: Genre Definitions