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Divas & Superstars

Chapter 7: A Sound from the Streets: Reggaetón

[B-ROLL MONTAGE: SAN JUAN HOUSING PROJECTS]

Underground--in the barrios and housing projects of Puerto Rico-a new music was taking shape.

DADDY YANKEE It was born in the ghetto. It was born in the 'hood. [B-ROLL MONTAGE: SAN JUAN HOUSING PROJECTS]

It was called reggaetón, and it had its roots in the rhythms of Jamaican reggae. And one rhythm in particular the "dembow."

[FOOTAGE: DEMBO CONCERT]

WAYNE MARSHALL (VO) The dembow is a very deeply Caribbean rhythm. This (OC) kind of BOOM, chk-BOOM-chk, BOOM chk-BOOM-chk....

[FOOTAGE: "MUEVELO" MUSIC VIDEO]

The "dembow" was first fused with Spanish rap in Panama, where it was called Spanish reggae--and soon spread across the Caribbean.

DADDY YANKEE (OC) By that time it was just Spanish hip-hop, Spanish rap in the barrios like that. (VO) Then, all of a sudden

[FOOTAGE: REGGAETON CONCERT]

we heard the people from Panama doing Reggae in Spanish so we started to incorporate our flavor into that sound. And we created our (OC) own genre, reggaetón.

[FOOTAGE: DADDY YANKEE MUSIC VIDEO MONTAGE AND SCENES OF REGGAETON DANCE]

Ramón Ayala, aka. Daddy Yankee, rapped about the violence and drug culture of Puerto Rico's poorest neighborhoods-to the rhythm of the dembo beat.

The explicit lyrics, and sexually provocative reggaetón dance, the "perreo" drew criticism from an influential Puerto Rican senator, Velda González.

VELDA GONZALEZ ARCHIVE FOOTAGE (translated): [I began to ask my young secretaries, what is the perreo?

[FOOTAGE: PERREO DANCING]

And they would look at one another, "Oh My Lord, you tell her." ]

[STILL MONTAGE: NEWSPAPER ARTICLES FEATURING VELDA GONZALEZ AND CONTROVERSY]

Senator González launched a campaign against the violence and sexual content of reggaetón.

DADDY YANKEE (VO) The same scenario that Hip-Hop had during the 80's. [FOOTAGE: DADDY YANKEE MUSIC VIDEO] (OC) People thought that we were promoting the violence. It was not like that. We was just being real. We was just being "el espejo del pueblo." We was rappin' about the real stuff.

[FOOTAGE: B-ROLL TEGO CALDERON]

Reggaetón remained mostly confined to the island of Puerto Rico, until rapper Tego Calderón arrived on the scene.

[FOOTAGE: TEGO"S MUSIC VIDEO "COSA BUENA""Aqui Llega Cosa Buena. El Negro Calde sin problema."] TEGO CALDERON (translated) (VO) I was not into reggaetón at first. My thing was Hip-Hop. And I rapped a lot about real issues (OC) Then one day, friend brought me to a disco. And two girls pinned me against a wall and I was dumbfounded. And I said "My God, I gotta sing this! [FOOTAGE: TEGO"S MUSIC VIDEO "COSA BUENA""Aqui Llega Cosa Buena. El Negro Calde sin problema."]

Tego Calderón created new fusions for reggaetón, adding traditional Caribbean rhythms to the Jamaican dembow beat.

TEGO CALDERON (translated) (OC) The music that I enjoy , and that runs through my veins is (VO) Afro-Caribbean rhythms.

[STILLS MONTAGE: PHOTOS AS TEGO AS A CHILD]

All those drums, the clave. (VO) That is what what fulfills me and it's who I am .

[FOOTAGE: TEGO MUSIC VIDEO]

WAYNE MARSHALL (VO) You start to hear bomba and plena, two afro-Puerto Rican folk forms cropping up in his music. (OC) You hear some salsa, you hear some bachata.

[FOOTAGE MONTAGE: TEGO MUSIC VIDEO, TEGO IN STREETS WITH FANS, TEGO IN CONCERT]

(VO) You know, I think that that caught a lot of listeners' ears.

In Tego's voice, Reggaetón broke through -- from the clubs in Puerto Rico to the stages of Manhattan -- spreading to Miami, Chicago, L.A.

TEGO CALDERON (translated) They identify with the lyrics and understand them perfectly. Salvadorans, Mexicans, Hondurans,

[FOOTAGE: CROWDS OF FANS WITH FLAGS]

WAYNE MARSHALL (VO) The thing about reggaetón is that it was able to express, on the one hand Latinidad, the "Latinness" and, on the other hand modernity. You could be 'bling-blinged' out. You could look like all of your peers in this more general sort of hip hop world. (OC) You didn't have to feel like you were somehow of selling out your own cultural roots.

[FOOTAGE: DADDY YANKEE "GASOLINA" MUSIC VIDEO]

Tego became a hero to young Latinos, but it was Daddy Yankee who took reggaetón into the clubs and onto the dance floors of America's mainstream, with his hit song, "Gasolina."

DADDY YANKEE (VO) It's simple. (OC) A simple hook. And it's about energy.

[FOOTAGE: DADDY YANKEE "GASOLINA" MUSIC VIDEO]

WAYNE MARSHALL (VO)"Gasolina" was huge. For many months (OC) uh you couldn't go anywhere without hearing it.

[FOOTAGE: DADDY YANKEE "GASOLINA" MUSIC VIDEO]

DADDY YANKEE (VO) People has (OC) told me that "I don't know what you're saying, Yankee, but it's great. You know, my girlfriend and my mother, they can't stop dancing."

VELDA GONZALEZ ARCHIVAL INTERVIEW Now I am in the middle of the reggaetón. And you know something? During the last campaign, the people asked me to dance reggaetón, because I told them — you can dance reggaetón nicely! [FOOTAGE MONTAGE : VELDA DANCING REGGAETON TO "GASOLINA"]

Not even Velda González, reggaetón's sharpest critic, could resist the rising tide of Latin music's new rhythm.

DADDY YANKEE (VO) All the generations has one music that (OC) identifies that generation. And right now our generation has been identified with reggaetón.

TEGO CALDERON (translated) It has to do with Latino pride. This is ours. It sounds good. It's good club music, as good as the hip-hop you dance to, which is also a part of who we are. But this is ours.

[FOOTAGE: CALLE OCHO CROWDS]

As Latin music moved into the new century, new fusions emerged, as diverse as the culture of today's urban Latinos.

[FOOTAGE: CALLE OCHO CROWDS]

PITBULL I used Wilfredo Vargas' "El Africano" which we all grew up on, which is (singing) "Mami, el negro esta rabioso, el quiere tu azúcar .." I put that on a house beat, techno beat. One of the biggest records in the country.

[FOOTAGE: CALLE OCHO CROWDS - MUSIC "EL AFRICANO"] All the ladies report to the dance floor. Hey! All the ladies report to the dance floor. Hey! Dale, dale.

LEILA COBO (VO) The world is shrinking. (OC) So people are far more open to all kinds of sounds and you see the fusion everywhere.

[FOOTAGE: CALLE OCHO CROWDS AND PIT BULL IN CONCERT]

(VO) You see a lot of traditional Caribbean beats (OC) married to urban and hip hop beats. You see traditional sounds like Mexican trumpets married to pop or married to a kind of more progressive (VO) alternative music. Nobody will raise an eyebrow at any mix of rhythms.

[FOOTAGE: CALLE OCHO CROWDS AND PIT BULL IN CONCERT- MUSIC "EL AFRICANO"]

Born and raised in Miami, Pitbull represents what he calls "305," Miami's area code-a cultural mix from every corner of Latin America and the Caribbean.

PITBULL (VO) Statistically we are growing in such numbers. And it's not like we are just Latinos. First generation, second generation, third generation, a lot of them don't even speak Spanish no more, (OC) but they are proud to be from where their parents are from, the country that they represent.

LEILA COBO These third, fourth generation Latins are really embracing the fact that they're Latin, are very eager to learn more about their culture. And I also think the mainstream, more than ever, is open to things Latin. It's not seen as something as foreign as it used to be.

[FADE TO BLACK]

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