More than five years ago a sensual and extroverted rhythm flooded all the nightclubs and discos in the country. It arrived accompanied by an unabashed physicality that openly expresses the desire for fun, sex and the good life. Many salsa bands began adapting their music and writing new lyrics to the reggaeton beat. The songs clearly allude to erotic situations and at the same time describe an area of Cuban reality, without makeup or triumphalism. In the eastern part of the country a harder-edged more direct style, known among its followers as “perreo”, has spun off from this musical rhythm

It’s rare to find a bicycle-taxi or an old car in use as a taxi anywhere on the island that doesn’t feature, at full volume, the catchy expressions of genre that shows no signs of dying out. One of the most interesting elements of reggaeton’s permanence among us, is how little it resembles the music of social consciousness we heard so much of in the sixties and seventies. If the songwriter of that era alluded constantly to his dedication, willingness and desire to contribute to the social process, the tunes today show an individual attraction to the material and a focus on satisfying immediate desires. Musical creation has ended up showing a process of change much more complex than a couple of chords or some new dance steps.

While on the stage a group of boys repeats almost to hysteria, “¡Mami, goza!” (which might be roughly translated into English as, “Oooooh! Tha’s my boo bear! Git it! Git it!”), the crowd sways and sweats under the colored lights. There is no lack of those who publicly criticize the spread of these new rhythms, tied to their foreign currents or consumerist tendencies, but the fans of reggaeton care little for that. For them, a resounding chorus that calls for enjoyment is—like it or not—the new anthem of these times.


27 thoughts on “Reggaeton

  1. hola un saludos a todos en la Isla que luchan de una forma u otra contra la Dictadura de los hermanos Castro


    A Documentary on Cuban Painter Humberto Calzada by Eduardo Montes-Bradley

    Humberto Calzada was born in Cuba in 1944 and has lived in the United States since 1960. In 1966 he received a degree in Industrial Engineering, followed by an MBA in Finance (1968) from the University of Miami. He began painting in 1972 and since 1976 has dedicated his time exclusively to painting.

    His work has been said to carry on the classical Latin American artistic tradition: dreamlike realism, tension created by the contrast between calm and conflict, and the use of timeless symbols as a universal language.–AboutArtist/aboutmain.html

  3. So let me get this straight

    “Havana has also revived accusations of hostile U.S. spying and “subversion” by saying the contractor, who it says was arrested last month for distributing satellite communications equipment to Cuban dissidents, worked for “American secret services.” Washington denies the man was a spy.”

    A satellite phone can bring the regime down?

    This is evidence they are holding to power just by controlling the flow of information and telling lies to Cubans. If one day Cubans learn about all the things really happening in the world and in Cuba and not the make believe fantasy land created by the Castro brothers it will be like waking up from a nightmare.

    It will happen. Possibly this year.

  4. REUTERS:Chill back in U.S.-Cuba ties after initial Obama thaw

    HAVANA (Reuters) – A chill reminiscent of the Cold War is back in U.S.-Cuban relations after hopes for warmer ties under U.S. President Barack Obama dissipated amid familiar disputes over the U.S. trade embargo, terrorism and spying.

    “After a year of relative civility and cautious praise for Obama, Cuban leaders are again angrily upbraiding Washington over the arrest of an American contractor in Havana last month and over Cuba’s objection to being included in a U.S. list of nations considered “state sponsors of terrorism.”
    Cuba protested to the top U.S. diplomat in Havana against its “unjust” inclusion on the list, which will mean extra security measures for U.S.-bound air passengers from Cuba following a botched Christmas Day bomb attack aboard a U.S.-bound airliner.

    Havana has also revived accusations of hostile U.S. spying and “subversion” by saying the contractor, who it says was arrested last month for distributing satellite communications equipment to Cuban dissidents, worked for “American secret services.” Washington denies the man was a spy.”

    “There has been speculation Cuba could use the contractor as a bargaining chip to try to secure release for five convicted Cuban intelligence agents serving long U.S. sentences for espionage charges that linked them to Havana’s 1996 shoot-down of private planes piloted by Cuban exiles near Cuba.”

    “But Cuba-watchers say “people-to-people” contact could still be increased by loosening the U.S. travel ban in place for most Americans as part of the embargo dating back to 1962.

    “If you want to bring about change, change by example,” said Florida cattleman John Parke Wright, a frequent visitor to Cuba. “Let American business and tourism flourish, and I guarantee there’ll be changes here (in Cuba).””

  5. 9
    Enero 10th, 2010 at 23:25

    Hey johnny, do not underestimate the capacity of cuban exile……. the credit embargo and the travel ban are in place just because cuban exile want it…….. you can consider as granted that the cubans in US congress and senate will start to work in Julio’s proposal if they receive 3 or 4 thousands letters asking to rise the taxes to castro’s purchases in USA.

  6. Well not a lot about music since my brief reponse in #5. Do any of you actually understand/like the genre?
    And #14 that was my interpretation of the cartoon’s plaintive question also.

  7. Iain:
    I am sorry for having mispelled your name.
    Aside from the caption as poignant as it is, the simplicity of the drawing, without trying to “read into it” the eyes, the position of the little body …
    I realize that perhaps the author of the caricature may have not even thought about it … yet it is a powerful statement.
    Sad, simple & realistic, its message touched my heart …
    Also our translators, managed once again to convey the contents of the commentary.
    I have nothing but sincere admiration for both: our translators about their volunteer work of love & Yoani with the other silent voices for day after day keeping the faith, nurturing the hope of a free Cuba.

  8. Ian hats off to you!
    Your comment caught my eye, it seems we agree in the who & the consecuences.
    I only regret the “quixotic” reference of guevara’s fantasies.
    Don Quixote was & is a far better caracter that guevara (I’m joking).
    Includied (I think) in his scheme of things, is the built in responsibility of failure.
    If wrong, is the epople’s fault for not producing, for not having a high moral standard or social stand.
    This leaves room (among other things) to demand more & return little to the people.
    Remeber, all this theories came from book learning (perhaps) or from a very little highly distorted vie of work.
    I can”t remember guevara ever holding an honest job for long.
    Ican remember him leaving (by his own ascercion) of “his” female concuests or by muching of the poor people along the way in his travels.
    Today I still can’t understand why castro & co. do not see the radical change necessary, even for the survival of their socialism?
    Other countries have don it & it seems to be working.
    The regueton like most music from Cuba is sensual even erotic & with its own identity
    Yes I agree, individuality has reurned !!!
    The important thing to me is tha this is another crack in the dam, this one perhaps bigger than others because it is the individual that forms the base of society.
    That individuality not even castro & co. can stop …

  9. P.S. I think the little girl in the picture is actually asking what meat is, rather than where it can be found? A much more potent question.

  10. At the risk of boring everyone, can we return to the official attitude to popular music? The regime has always feared this and I mentioned the subject in passing (last paragraph) in the Buenos Aires Herald a few years ago. The note discussed the so-called “blockade”:
    Dear Editor,
    At the risk of boring everyone rigid, can I point out that a “blockade” is an act of war under international law and that Castro’s Cuba has never been blockaded by the United States or by anyone else. The closest came on October 22nd, 1962, when President Kennedy proposed a “quarantine” of the island to enforce the removal of Soviet nuclear missiles. Following its unanimous endorsement by the Organization of American States, this came into force on the 24th, with only nuclear cargoes affected and all other commerce permitted to pass. The quarantine was lifted formally on November 21st as the Russians began dismantling their installations. The United States maintains a trade embargo, for the reasons outlined by Jorge Lanus, but Castro is otherwise free to trade with any country that can stomach his regime and its indebtedness.
    In fact, Cuba’s poverty has more to do with Argentina, or one particular Argentinean, than with the United States. When he took over the economy, Ernesto “Che” Guevara imposed his “Theory of Value”, in which the value of an object or service was not set by supply and demand but by what he deemed to be its moral and social worth. This meant that the country did not produce what the people wanted or needed but was directed towards his quixotic fantasies. Although Castro supported him, it was Guevara who decided priorities and it was his years in charge that drove the Cuban economy to ruin.
    Jorge Lanus does not recall Castro complaining about the supposed US funding of dissidents but culture minister Abel Prieto has definitely done so recently. As I write, he is in Spain to promote “Cuba 2005”, a dismal tome of official essays, and is somewhat miffed to find himself overshadowed by dissident poet Raúl Rivero. The latter has certainly been branded a “US agent” and, interviewed in El País by Andrea Aguilar, Prieto asserts that there’s no room for Rivero in his native land as it’s “not legal to work at the service of the US embassy, which has declared an all out war against us.”
    Something of the joylessness of official Cuban culture is revealed towards the end of the interview where Prieto mentions that, three years ago, the regime set up its first official state agency for rap music. This has the expressed purpose of preventing the genre from becoming popular as, in the looking-glass world of Castro and his apologists, it is the people rather than the state that imposes censorship. “The market has become a great censor” Prieto avows.
    Sincerely, Iain

  11. WTF??
    Actually I send the dollars(at the rate of 0.90USD/CUC!) not receive it!
    Feb 10 a red letter day indeed.
    Please someone comment on Regueton(in spanish or english)!

  12. Juan to not recognize the power of communication of the internet or just a simple email is fatal.

    Feb 10 we will start campaigning US legislators. To add the conditional levy or tax on exports to Cuba I have already got a few emails from some Cuban American friends that like the idea. So lets see if this can snow ball and become an avalanche.

  13. Again I will ask this time in english why not keep such comments as #8 to the previous “Excess Baggage” article? If you do want to be political perhaps a discussion of nueva trova would be more pertinent?
    I will come back in month to see the impact of your call to arms! je je je!
    As an aside BTW “cubans living in other countries” can send money directly to their family from their particular Country’s bank(s). It is only democratic USA that prevents this.

  14. To all the Cuban american or Americans that want to help.

    We are trying to get the Cuban regime to eliminate the excessive fee of 20 percent it charges to the dollar. This is the punishment the regime created when in the Bush era the travels to Cuba and financial transactions where limited.

    We are giving the Cuban regime a full month to solve the issue.
    Until Feb 10 of this year to solve the matter.
    We also will like for the Cuban government to stop charging us a ransom for family members from Cuba visiting in the US. And allow the Cuban Americans to travel with American passport without the extra requirement of using a Cuban passport.

    I suggest we start contacting legislators after Feb 10 if there is no signal of change from the Cuban government. The process is simple. Notify as many Cubans as you know.
    For Cuban living in other countries do the same. To contact legislators of their respective country.

    Please copy this message and email it to as many persons as you know that could help. If you do have american friend ask them also to help.

    The petition to legislators should be to create a conditional law that places a punitive levy or tax on all goods purchase by Cuba in the US until Cuba comply with our


    A todos los Cubanos o Americanos que quieran ayudar.

    Estamos tratando de que el regimen de Cuba elimine la devaluacion automatica al dollar del 20 porciento. Este castigo del regimen fue creado en la epoca de Bush cuando los viajes a cuba y las transaciones finacieras fueron limitadas.

    Le damos de place al regimen Cubano un mes para resolver el asunto.
    Hasta febrero 10 de este ano.
    Tambien el regimen Cubano debe parar de cobrarnos por nuestros parientes que visitan Estados Unidos desde Cuba y permitir que Cubano-Americanos viajen con pasaporte americano sin el requerimiento adicional de obtener un pasaporte Cubano.

    Sugiero que comencemos a contactar legisladores a partir de Febrero 10 si no hay senal de cambio del gobierno Cubano. El proceso es simple. Notifique a todos los Cubanos que conosca. Para Cubanos que viven en otro pais que no es Estados Unidos hacer lo mismo. Contacten legisladores de sus paises respectivos.

    Por favor envie una copia de este mensaje por email a cuantas personas conosca y que puedan ayudar. Si tiene amigos americanos pidales ayuda tambien.

    La peticion a los legisladores debe ser para crear una ley condicional que ponga un tax punitivo en todas las cosas compradas por Cuba en los Estados Unidos hasta que Cuba cumpla con nuestra demanda.

  15. Entonces por qué necesitas escribir lo mismo aqui también?
    Este reporte es acerca de la apreciación de la música!

  16. Juan I posted this on the prior post here is my answer to your last posts.

    Juan I do remember very clearly that the Cuban regime responded with the 20 percent tax or whatever you want to called when the Bush government limited the travels and the remittances by Cuban american to Cuba. Those things are gone. Is time to set that back to what it was.
    Obviously there is needs to be a deadline to produce results with the Cuban regime. Otherwise we will never see it happen.
    I am not sure if shaking is the right word but it sure got your attention. So please is in the best interest of the regime to eliminate those fees.

  17. Pues a mi me gusta el Regueton porque es un ritmo contagioso, sensual y sobre todo muy divertido. Disfruto mucho viendo a las mujeres bailarlo es algo maravilloso. El regueton es una musica para fiestas, para bailar y GOZAR!!!! pero para escuchar buena letra esta la Nueva Trova, me encanta tambien.

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