RHYTHMATIC: FOLLOW THE LEADER(S)

Summer is officially in full effect here in NYC and that means (amongst other things) lots of parties, unbearably hot weather and blaring Spanish/Reggaeton rhythms from the streets below my apartment here in BK. I may not be Latina (Jenny from the Block, I definitely am not), but I'm always a sucker for a hot beat and these cuts have all that and them some. So with that said, here's a look at a few of my faves from this Dancehall-inspired genre. Get ready to dance...

A popular song of choice right now is the latest from Wisin Y Yandel, a Puerto Rican group that falls into the Reggaeton genre who have dominated the Latin music scene, particularly since the mid-00's. The song, "Follow the Leader", features the aforementioned Jennifer Lopez and was recently performed on American Idol in the hopes to push it for a more mainstream breakthrough.

(It amusese me that when you view this video on YouTube, even the commercials are in Spanish...)

I know that Jennifer Lopez frustrates a lot of people who are "hip" to the Latin scene, mainly because she has gone so mainstream, it's hard to reconcile her back to her Latin "roots". Still, "Follow the Leader" scorches because of its use of more traditional Latin sound, and sounds especially good played VERY loud.

Keep reading for more latin-twinged goodness...

My favorite cut by Wisin Y Yandel however, was an unexpected collaboration with rap group Bone Thugs N Harmony ("See you at the crossroads...") called "Take the Lead (Wanna Ride)", produced by Swizz Beatz and featured on the soundtrack to the 2006 Antonio Banderas dance film Take the Lead.


"Follow the Leader" was actually written by the chicks in the Jamaican Reggae/R&B duo Brick & Lace. The group broke through in 2006 after signing a deal with Akon (pre-Lady Gaga explosion) with their debut single "Never Never", but my fave cut is "Love Is Wicked" (see below). The group is currently still grinding despite the long wait for album #2.


Earlier this month, "The King" of the Latin Music Genre, Don Omar, released his most recent record, called Don Omar Presents MTO2: The New Generation, that's chock full of scorchers that make you wanna twirl your hips around. My current favorite to blast real loud is "Zumba" (yes, I'm realizing that's probably a White Girl Cliche, given the explosion of Zumba Dance Class popularity. Keep it to yourselves, por favor.)


I'd be wrong of me to not include in this list the foursome of ladies whom arguably inspired me to pursue my dreams in the music field. Of course, I'm talking about Soluna, whose debut/sole album For All Time officially celebrated its ten year anniversary this month. (::cries:: I'm so old!) There are plenty of obvious choices on the disc to include. The "hype" single "Bring It To Me" is fun in English, Spanish or Spanglish. "For All Time" was released in Spanish as "Por La Eternidad". "Spanish Lullaby" soothes with Spanish guitar and "Luna Mia" was produced by Ozomatli. However, for the sake of non-repetition, I'll go with the "second" single from For All Time, "Monday Mi Amor". The remix went to #3 on the Billboard Dance Breakout Chart, even though no video was produced. Fun Fact -- the spoken word intro featured in the song's album version was actually performed by member Jessica's dad.

Ah, the memories. I remember hearing that on my local radio station for the first time back in 2002, and almost breaking into tears. Not a joke.

Moving on - but still back in my high school days of yore - Reggaeton officially made the transition into the mainstream music counciousness, especially around 2003-2004, when I was a sophomore/junior in high school. Daddy Yankee's "Gasolina" (and later "Rompe") were staples to turn up on the car stereo whenever they'd blast through -- and suburban white girls from Upstate New York are singing along, you know you've gone mainstream. Undoubtedly my fave was Daddy's collab with N.O.R.E., Nina Sky, Big Mato and Gemstar in "Oye Mi Canto" (Hear My Song). Even at 17, I took great pride and my knowledge of music -- considering most of my friends referred to this jam as "That Boricua Song."


It's not quite Reggaeton, but if we can attribute ANYONE for making Latin music truly mainstream, it's the unshakeable Ms. Gloria Estefan (and arguably, her Miami Sound Machine as well). Listing all of her hits here would take all day, but suffice to say, I basically grew up listening to Gloria. I would dance around the room to "Conga" and "1, 2, 3". My neighbor and I's "choreography" to "Turn the Beat Around" is infamous (to our family members who remember us subjecting them to it over and over again, at least). And if you listen to nothing from this list, at least blare the tribal-inspired "Rhythm Is Gonna Get You" once. It's seriously good for the soul.


Oh, the 80's. Mullets and Congo drums? Creepy face paint and Big Hair & Glamour Makeup? Horns and a Hammer Pants? Yeah, you rock on that keytar, White Guy.

No comments

Back to Top