Reggaeton Edited by Raquel Rivera,
Wayne marshall and Deborah Paccini Hernández Durham:
Duke University Press 392 pages;
$24.95 [paper] ISBN:978-8223-4383-7
To celebrate the publication of Reggaeton, the editors of the anthology Raquel Z. Rivera, Wayne Marshall and Deborah Pacini Hernández, spoke at a Centro Meet the Author event about the early days of reggaeton even before it was called that way. They spoke on the influence of technology on reggaeton, the genre’s commercialization in the United States and globally, the fusion of reggaeton with other music genres, and reggaeton’s supposed rise and fall as a music genre.
Centro celebrated a book discussion on May 7, 2009 with the editors, contributing writers and community members. Duke University published Reggaeton on April 2009.
Rivera had been following reggaeton for a long time. She approached Pacini Hernández about working on an anthology because she felt it was an important popular music genre to document in a more scholarly way, and Pacini Hernández agreed.
“There were so many reasons for wanting to participate in this,” Pacini Hernández said, adding that one of them was to collaborate with Rivera. In addition, Pacini Hernández said, “I had a long time interest in the circulation of music in the Caribbean” and worked in the Caribbean for many years.
Working on the project made sense, so the editors made a call for papers “hoping to bring together some really interesting voices.”
“The goal was to produce an anthology that was scholarly but also interesting and informative,” Pacini Hernández said.
Rivera met Marshall, a musicologist, at a symposium she organized on reggaeton in Boston. Marshall was then invited to join the editorial team, and the trio formed what they call their “editorial collective.”
“One of the things I find remarkable about reggaeton is how it ends up fueling a lot of these debates as well as facilitating them in a way,” Marshall said. “There’s a lot of hostilities as this country changes, and music often offers a very powerful way of working those out, of imagining new ways of drawing these lines. For me, that’s really what’s drawn me to this music and this project.”
A hybrid of reggae and rap, reggaeton is music with Spanish lyrics and Caribbean aesthetics that took Latin America, the United States, and the world by storm. Reggaeton brings together critical assessments of this genre. Journalists, scholars, and artists delve into reggaeton’s local roots and its transnational dissemination, and they explore the debates about race, nation, gender, and sexuality generated by the music and its associated cultural practices, from dance to fashion.
The collection opens with an exploration of the social and sonic currents of reggaeton in Puerto Rico during the 1990s. Contributors consider reggaeton in relation to Puerto Rico, Panama, Jamaica, New York, Cuban society, Miami’s hip-hop scene, Dominican identity, and other genres including reggae en español, underground, and dancehall reggae. The reggaeton artist Tego Calderón is among the contributing writers.