To follow up on our conversations and our readings on the origins of Reggaeton (Part. 1, part. 2, part. 3), we asked London DJ Felix Hall to make a selection of songs. His show on NTS is a real gold mine where today and yesterday’s reggaeton cross Dancehall, Bashment and other forms of Dembow. It is with the thoroughness of those who seek to escape the obvious that Felix has engaged in the exercise. The story of Reggaeton as it has been told repeats itself. If certain artists such as El General, DJ Playero, DJ Nelson, DJ Negro, DJ Blass or Daddy Yankee are systematically given the credit they deserve, many others deserve to be cited.
We settled on a sofa on a rainy afternoon and, for a few hours, Félix played songs on youtube. It’s a spontaneous selection that he gaves us here. The goal here is not to write an alternative history of reggaeton but simply to illustrate another thirty rich and little-explored years. From reggae in Panamanian Spanish to digital productions in current Puerto Rico, Félix gives us some of his favorite tracks, discovered while travelling or surfing on various blogs. Songs which, for many, have never been exported too much but which, far from our eyes and our ears, stir crowds.
DJ Goldy – Hardcore Reggae Vol2 – Killer Mix (1995)
Of all the founding fathers of Reggaeton (Playero, Negro, Chaclin), DJ Goldy’s mixtapes have always been my favorites. It’s great to see the recent interest in this era in the history of reggaeton, DJ Goldy is definitely one of those who deserves more recognition. This is a banger from start to finish.
Tempo – Game Over (Album 1999)
Tempo is one of Puerto Rico’s main 90s hip hop MCs alongside Vico C. He was one of the pioneers on the scene, before disappearing for fifteen years behind bars. The album, produced by DJ Playero, is pretty representative of what we could hear in Puerto Rico at that time. Most of the songs are in a classic New York boom bap style while the beat of ‘Donde Estan Las Gerlas’ uses a dancehall beat. On ‘Ven y Baila’ we find the famous swaying Dembow. Everything is here.
Danger Man – Me La Van A Pagar – 18 Kilates (1999)
Danger man is a Panamanian MC. As often in Panama, the track is super faithful to the Jamaican sound. The Flow is a copy of the ‘Number one’ track from Ninja Man. Despite the use of a rhythmic ‘dembow’ this piece belongs more to reggae in Spanish, far from the hip hop flow of reggaeton. Danger Man, as often, talks about guns and violence. He is undoubtedly one of the most consistent artists from Panama.
Ivy Queen ft. Gran Omar – Guillaera (2003)
The sample comes from Tony Kelly’s ‘Buzz Riddim’ which was a hit in Jamaica. The clip is great. Like many others at the time, he is super influenced by fabulous 50 cent vacuum baggy. It’s definitely one of Ivy’s biggest pieces, at a time when reggaeton is starting to export.
Nicky Jam – Gatas En La Disco (2003)
I think Nicky Jam is a bit overestimated today. It still surprises me to see how he exploded recently. Before making commercially acceptable music, he released a ton of great songs. ‘Gatas En La Disco’ is surely one of the best tracks to play in a club.
Nelson – Hit It From The Back (2004)
DJ Nelson is one of the largest producers in Puerto Rico. He is one of the first to use the name reggaeton to describe his mixtapes. If you can’t understand the song, look up the definition of ‘punani’ on google. Quite explicit.
Polaco ft Ñengo Flow – HASTA QUE TE LO HUNDA (2005)
The biggest track from Ñengo Flow’s debut album. He had produced a super well-received mixtape a year ago, but it was definitely this release that positioned him as one of the top hardcore artists in the genre until today. Take a look at his discography, it’s worth it.
La Hill – Paso a Paso (2004)
I had the pleasure of meeting La Hill when I lived in Medellin, an artist who is too little known and an excellent lyricist. The song talks about social issues, sexism and racism, all well put together and served hot. Definitely an artist who deserves more recognition.
Tego Calderón – Extremidades (2006)
Tego, in my opinion, has deserved throughout his career to be in the top five of the best genre artists. This song was released on an LP called The Underdog, great project if you have some time.
Ñengo Flow Ft Yomo – Con La Gorra Empeta (2014)
Le morceau est produit par Yampi, l’un des top prducteurs de la nouvelle génération. Il se fait connaitre avec son track ‘Yomo con Nengo’ il y a quelques années mais ce projet est définitivement bien plus lourd. La production est irréprochable, délicatement ponctuée d’une tonne d’éléments qui se fondent à merveille avec le flow chantant de Nengo Flow. L’album 24 Kilates, du début à la fin, est probablement le meilleur projet multi vocaliste qu’il ait réalisé, mettant en lumière toute une nouvelle génération de MCs hyper talentueux.
Nelly – Super Perreo Instrumental (2014)
The song is produced by Yampi, one of the top producers of the new generation. He made himself known with his track ‘Yomo con Nengo’ a few years ago but this project is definitely much heavier. The production is impeccable, delicately punctuated with a ton of elements that blend perfectly with the singing flow of Nengo Flow. The album 24 Kilates, from start to finish, is probably the best multi-vocalist project he has done, highlighting a whole new generation of super talented MCs.
Nova Y Jory – Bien Loco (2010)
A huge song still systematically played at each evening in San Juan and Medellin. His bpm a bit slower systematically fills the dance floor. I heard it for the first time in Medellin club Barrio Manrique. everyone went mad. The Por Encima mixtape is worth the detour.
Anuel AA – 3 Some (2017)
I have a lot of respect for Annual as an artist but I have a feeling that his pre-prison tracks were much better, less influenced by the greed and commercial success. The production is still signed by Yampi.