Go! Destination Marketing Caribbean Connection


Go into any nightclub in the Caribbean, order a drink and listen to the DJ spin. Chances are it won’t be long before he plays a set of hard-charging reggaeton. The music is infectious, driven by snare drums and female choruses.

Reggaeton got its start as a form of Spanish reggae. This changed as reggaeton artists began adding hip hop elements to the music. What evolved around 2004 was a fresh new music that – to me – bears little resemblance to reggae. The singer Tom Waits famously referred to reggae as, “…music played backwards.”

Reggaeton is different – it comes straight at you in a full frontal rhythmic assault.

There’s also a dance linked to reggaeton - perrero – which is over-the-top raunchy and makes the lambada look like a discreet waltz. If I knew the meaning of the Spanish lyrics, I’d probably like reggaeton less, since many of the songs are sexist and boastful. But the music itself rises above this and is great in small doses.

Reggaeton has made it into the mainstream, so the sound has been softened to include romantic ballads and hybrids like reggaeton/salsa and reggaeton/bachata.

Puerto Rico is considered reggaeton central. This is the home of the biggest cross-over reggaeton star, Daddy Yankee. His song “Gasolina” was a worldwide hit in 2004, and is emblematic of the classic reggaeton sound.