Building Pan-Latino Unity in the United States through Music: An Exploration of Commonalities Between Salsa and Reggaeton

Kim Kattari

Abstract


In 2004, reggaeton exploded upon the U.S. popular music market with its danceable rhythms and catchy hooks. It quickly cultivated a significant pan-Latino audience in the United States composed of youth from a variety of Latino backgrounds – Puerto Rican, Mexican, Colombian, Dominican, Venezuelan, and more. But this is the not the first time that popular music has fostered a sense of pan-Latino pride in the States. In this article, I trace some of the ways in which reggaeton shares commonalities with salsa’s construction of, and engagement with, a pan-Latino U.S. audience in the 1970s. Drawing on an analysis of music, lyrics, and music videos, I argue that both salsa and reggaeton have been specifically designed to reach the widest possible Latino demographic in two significant ways. First, both genres are influenced and composed of a diverse array of musical styles, allowing people from different Latino backgrounds to relate to, and enjoy, the hybrid musical elements. Secondly, both genres feature lyrics that reference issues faced by different Latino communities and explicitly call for the development of pan-Latino unity. This article touches on the relevant ways in which reggaeton has succeeded in fostering a sense of pan-Latino pride by providing a socio-musical community that Latino youth participate in together, highlighting the similarities, rather than the tensions, between different Latino groups in America

Full Text:

PDF




© Musicological Explorations, School of Music, University of Victoria

ISSN 1711-9235