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“Oye mi canto” (“Listen to My Song”): The History and Politics of Reggaetón

Pages 489-506
Published online: 21 Sep 2009


This article explores the evolution of reggaetón from its Panamanian origins through the defining role it plays in Latino/a youth culture today. The arguments outline the early history and defining characteristics of the genre and then consider the intersection of race and youth culture in reggaetón through the example of Puerto Rico. Continuing with the case of Puerto Rico, the article highlights dominant features of street culture and machismo while exploring social diversity in more recent music. The study culminates in an examination of the interrelationship of reggaetón with hop‐hop culture.


Thanks are extended to Rosa E. Carrasquillo for her many insights on race in Puerto Rico and to the two anonymous reviewers for their helpful suggestions. Special thanks to Ken Marshall and Meredith Roman, both of whom encouraged the writing of this article through their friendship and individual interests in the African diaspora.


1. Jillian CitationBaez explores the role of female empowerment in Ivy CitationQueen's music in “‘En mi imperio’: Competing Discourses of Agency in Ivy CitationQueen's Reggaeton.” Gender, among other topics in reggaetón culture, is also explored in Reggaetón, edited by Raquel Z. Rivera, Deborah Pacini Hernandez, and Wayne CitationMarshall (Durham: Duke University Press, 2009).

2. For examples of FirstMortgage advertisements using Calderón, see “Te llevamos a tu nueva casa” in El Oriental 17 Nov. 2004: 12, and “Con nuestra agilidad te mudas más facil” in Primera Hora 19 May 2005: 9.

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