Our North America: A Continent of Cultural Change
The contemporary pop music form reggaetón can serve as a conversation starter for a broad discussion about the cultural complexities of ‘Our North America’. As a musical form, reggaetón derives mainly from Puerto Rican and Cuban salsa, merengue of the Dominican Republic, reggae and dance hall from Jamaica, soca from Trinidad and Panama, and rap from the US. The ability of reggaetón to animate dance floors around the world results from its distinctive, catchy beat to be sure, but also from the power and audio clarity of sound systems made in Europe and Japan through which the music passes, and from brilliant recording techniques used by producers in San Juan, New York, Los Angeles, and London. In every sense, reggaetón is a remarkable contemporary cultural hybrid, not unlike Guillermo Gómez-Peña’s performances, explained in Victoria Ruétalo’s chapter in this volume.