I’m no expert when it comes to reggaeton, but in the last year or so I have noticed a pretty concerted effort by big names such as Daddy Yankee and Don Omar to expand the genre’s sound. I can’t say whether the shift, which has found artists incorporating straight hip-hop and dancehall along with bits of bachata, reggae, and soul, is a ploy to attract a wider audience or simply a necessary sign of growth. Plenty of regional styles have trademark characteristics, but the galloping post-dancehall beat of reggaeton has exhibited almost no variety or depth in the several years I’ve been checking the stuff out. Of course, I could be one of those old fogies saying, “it all sounds the same,” but I don’t think so. Most of the innovations of producers like Luny Tunes have to do with the activity surrounding the beats, not the beats themselves. I’m sure there are underground reggaeton acts pledging to keep it real by refusing to change or develop, but at this point I’m not much interested in that noise.
The increasingly popular Wisin y Yandel have joined the expansion crew with their new album, Los Extraterrestres (Machete). It’s got cameos from hip-hop stars Eve and Fat Joe, but the big change is that about a third of the 19 tracks dispense with the standard reggaeton rhythm, inching the music toward what’s essentially Spanish-language hip-hop. It’s the most interesting record the duo has made. Most of it was produced by Victor “El Nasi” (a credit you can’t miss, given the constant in-song shout-outs to him) and one can only hope that he and other reggaeton producers continue broadening their bag of tricks.
Wisin y Yandel headline the Aragon tonight.
Mari Boine, Idjagiedas (Universal Norway)