Puerto Rico. Reggaeton, its stars and hits.
There is no way to dissociate them. Especially since the turn of the XNUMXst century, they invaded the world. In such a way that, much due to this emerging style, Hispanic music began to threaten the worldwide supremacy of Anglophone music.
Daddy Yankee and his hits “Gasolina” and “Lo que Pasó Pasó”, from 2004, in the same year, “Baila Morena” the answer of Héctor & Tito that we heard for the first time, in Valle Seco, a fishing village close to Puerto Colombia, Venezuelan Caribbean and which, only several years later, we were able to identify.
When it's not reggaeton, other multifaceted rhythms, musicians and artists stand out.
Only in this way do we remember planetary stars like Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony, Ricky Martin, Jose Feliciano, Benicio del Toro, Joaquin Phoenix, these are the most famous.
But let's concentrate, for now, on reggaeton.
The Unstoppable Pace Reggaeton Conquered the World
At one point, the new Puerto Rican musical hits conquered the dance floors with an intensity comparable to that of the Latin beats dembow frenetic themes of each theme, all of them popular popularuchos, without great depths, esotericism or aesthetic subtleties.
The lyrics speak of “perrear”, “fuego” and “afuegote” and “flow”. These are expressions that translate, in order, the sexual movement of copulation standing up and wearing clothes, unavoidable, when dancing reggaeton.
The temperature and sexual atmosphere characteristic of discos and clubs that play reggaeton.
Finally, the harmony and flow of the music that explains why so many lyrics include an appeal of “reggaeton lady".
Reggaeton has long reflected the craving for fun and pleasure typical of these semi-Caribbean parts of the world.
Simultaneously, a radical reinvention of musical styles in undisputed Caribbean times, the rumba, the cha-cha-cha, the bolero, the mambo, the guaracha, the Dominican bachata, among many others.
In a cultural sphere strongly influenced by pop, hip-hop, rap and their fusions in the United States, the visual record of artists acquired as much or more importance than that of their hits.
It proved to be still predominant for the swell of its legions of fans and followers.
And for the desired stardom and unbridled wealth that follows.
Today, the even more eccentric and superficial Bad Bunny seems to have replaced Daddy Yankee on the throne of reggaeton. But in January 2017, Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee joined forces on a theme from Fonsi's 2018 album, “Life”.
This theme, "Slowly” clashed and much of the strongly drummed, rhythmic and electronic line with which Yankee made his fame. It slowed down Puerto Rico's energy and passionate cadence into a slow, drawn-out, almost cheesy way of celebrating sex and love, incompatible with any longing for “perreo".
For some reason, Fonsi teamed up with Yankee. The first one realized the commercial potential of the theme, and how much his professional colleague could multiply it.
Unsurprisingly, in three times, “Slowly” became the mega hit of the year.
Faced with deciding what to do with the video, the duo agreed to simplify.
The success "Slowly” and the La Perla neighborhood of San Juan
In celebrating his idolized images and, at the same time, the genuineness and humility of the heart and soul of Puerto Rico: his Vieja San Juan, the second oldest Hispanic colonial city and the most fortified colonial city in the Americas.
In 2016, the two musicians and Miss Universe 2006 Zuleika River Mendoza descended on the waterfront of La Perla, one of the poorest, most colorful and, once, most dangerous neighborhoods in San Juan.
During the filming, the Atlantic unfolds, measured, over the rocky reef that, as a rule, protects the houses from the storms.
Fonsi and the model showed off their careful physiques (the Yankee one, not so much) and seductive looks in the dirty streets of the neighborhood, on the rubble accumulated at the base of the first row of houses.
They lived with the well-off residents, sang and danced in patios, in taverns and the like. Only a few additional scenes were filmed at the famous “La Factoria” bar, situated farther up Calle San Sebastian in the old town.
Four years later, we find ourselves at the gates of that same La Perla neighbourhood. First, we glimpse their houses and alleys from the summit via Bulevar del Valle.
A little later, we can see it in panoramic format from the walls and walkways of Castillo San Felipe del Morro.
At that distance, everything seems normal to us. We see its multicolored houses, stacked one on top of the other on the north slope, still somewhat green on the island of San Juan, between the Magdalena de Pazzi Cemetery and the great Castillo de San Cristóbal.
Even if their chromatic assortment prevailed, La Perla was not the same.
Hurricane Maria: the Catastrophe that Devastated La Perla and Puerto Rico
Tropical storms and hurricanes were lashing the Caribbean long before Christopher Columbus landed. Two of them nearly shortened the admiral's life.
On September 20, 2017, Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico. One of the places most exposed to storms and, as such, the most destroyed was the neighborhood of La Perla, facing north and with its houses a few meters above the level of the Atlantic.
Inflated by the storm, the ocean projected massive waves that razed many homes.
When we passed through, most of them were still destroyed and abandoned, now under the pressure of intense real estate speculation.
Despite the effects of the hurricane, La Perla remained an unusual street art gallery, with its facades, roofs, bridges and many other structures painted with different works.
The Flag of Puerto Rico and So Many Other Expressions of Street Art
As an image of what happens all over the territory, some entire fronts display paintings of the flag of Puerto Rico that we saw, by the way, also illustrated in the dry roots of a tree.
Other works tell the history, traditions and socio-political hardships of the island.
A few meters above the neighborhood La Perla, the Bulevar del Valle street has a long section filled with street works.
They are almost all abrasive claims against the corruption that the governors of Puerto Rico found themselves accused of or allusive to the abandonment in which Donald Trump's United States voted the island after the catastrophe of Hurricane Maria.
who arrives from Santo Domingo and from other neighboring islands in the Caribbean, he soon realizes that, in Puerto Rico, the love and commitment placed in art are superior.
Whatever the bar, restaurant or inn in San Juan, it insists on having a decoration, a brand image and a unique atmosphere.
If entrepreneurs lack funds or property, they express themselves at more down-to-earth scales.
We see it in a natural agricultural market, where products are displayed with great elegance, juices and liqueurs have names and flavors out of the box, such as inventive and personalized crafts.
A Long Cultivated Artistic Vocation
A few hundred meters away, one of the monumental motifs and furniture of the nation's creativity stands out from the vast El Morro lawn. School of Plastic Arts and Design, crisp yellow and, at least at first glance, larger than the Capitol of Puerto Rico itself.
The city's emblematic statues adorn the surroundings, such as that of Don Ricardo Alegria, anthropologist, historian and former mayor from San Juan, whose pro-activity left its mark throughout the city, including the foundation of the art school from which Luz Badillo, the author of the statue, graduated.
We explored the near-marine confines of the Castillo San Felipe del Morro when, as happened afternoon after afternoon, from one moment to the next, the sky turned black and discharged a fulminating blast.
We ran up Calle el Morro, looking for shelter in the colonial grid of the Old Town. We took refuge inside the Museo de Las Américas building.
Beneath its arches, on the edge of protection, we come across one of San Juan's unexpected worlds of light and color. The museum is arranged around an open courtyard.
From the three floors filled with ogival, rectangular and round doors, windows and windows, emanates a mystical pink light that invades the patio.
It is reflected in the floor beaten by rain and covered with puddles.
And it is distorted into its own ephemeral Pop Art prodigy. Young people also out there, safe from the rain, feel the enchantment. They leave the arcades for the picture in the courtyard. They indulge in drenched photos and selfies.
In the good fashion of the tropics, as quickly as it appeared, the storm took its course. With night setting in, we wandered around Cidade Vieja.
We appreciated how, little by little, she adjusted to the “fuegote” about to take over her. The bars are smothering and passing the reggaeton themes essential to the “flow".
The first rehearsals still shy of “perreo”, preambles of new dawn in fire in the clubs of the Puerto Rican capital.