J Balvin and Bad Bunny, urban artists dominating international airwaves, will always be in debt to the reggaetón pioneers like Daddy Yankee, Ivy Queen and Don Omar. Here are a few classics to revisit now.
It’s undeniable that reggaetón artists at the forefront of the perreo/reggaetón movement of the mid-2000s laid the groundwork for urbanos like J Balvin, Bad Bunny and Ozuna to become international stars.
Let’s revisit history and the iconic videos that inspired a generation. We are aware that 8 songs can’t capture the whole movement, but these are our personal faves.
Ivy Queen, “Yo Quiero Bailar”
As the first reggaetonera to reach international stardom, Ivy Queen’s legacy is heavily tied to feminism. Solidifying her relevance in the male-dominated space in the ’90s, as part of The Noise in San Juan, she constantly challenged the narratives surrounding the genre and women. In an interview with CHICA, she shared: “I would go to clubs, and I saw how the pretty girls would be grabbed by the men trying to get them to dance…. My perspective was, ‘Whoa, these girls are having a hard time.’”
Nicky Jam featuring Daddy Yankee, “En La Cama”
A Boston native with Dominican and Puerto Rican roots, Nicky Jam has contributed to the genre since his pre-teen years. Signed at 14 years old, he caught the attention of big producers like DJ Playero, DJ Joe and DJ Chiklin, and it was in these circles that he met Daddy Yankee. Forming a friendship and musical partnership, they dropped tracks as the duo Los Cangris like “La Gata,” “En la Cama” and “Guayando.”
Tego Calderon, “Metele Sazon”
The Afro–Puerto Rican hip-hop artist made a name for himself in the reggaetón scene after realizing how far he could get with the sound. His lyrical style catered to social-consciousness and corruption in the Puerto Rican government, dance! After dropping his 2003 album, he quickly rose to international stardom with songs like “Metele Sazon,” found on legendary producers Luny Tunes’s Mas Flow album.
Zion y Lennox, “Hay Algo En Ti”
The music duo from Carolina, Puerto Rico, have been officially making music as a pair since 2000. With songs like “Hay Algo En Ti” and “Yo Voy,” Felix Ortiz Torres (Zion) and Gabriel Pizarro ( Lennox) proved to audiences that reggaetón could sell with romantic lyrics, unlike the themes of graphic sex and violence prevalent in the genre.
Yandel, “Te Suelto el Pelo”
Born Llandel Veguilla Malavé, Yandel is most known as half of duo Wisin Y Yandel. Meeting Wisin in 1998 during school days, they led the wave in the early 2000s with songs like “Rakata” and “Pam Pam.” The 2001 track for “Te Suelto El Pelo” is a perreo favorite that led to many hookups in its time.
Glory, “La Popola”
Known as the female voice in classics like “Baila Morena” and “Gasolina,” Puerto Rican artist Glory is one of the genre’s most recognizable voices. Banned in the Dominican Republic for its vulgar use of the female sex organ, “La Popola” ironically was created for the Dominican audience. The colors in the production lean toward the musical styles of the Cibao region in the Dominican Republic where merengue tipico reigns. The year the song dropped, the National Commission of Public Entertainment banned it permanently in the country, resulting in no public airplay. However, it did not stop the song’s proliferation underground.
Plan B, “Guatauba”
Cousins Orlando Javier Valle Vega (Chencho) and Edwin Vázquez Vega (Maldy) were drawn to the style at a young age. They caught the attention of DJ Blass, who later recorded many of their songs like “Frikitona,” and included the Puerto Rican natives in projects like 2001’s Triple Sexxx, Reggaeton Sex Live and Sandungero Vol. 1, as well as 2002 Reggaeton Sex Crew.
Don Omar, “Dale Don Dale”
A single from his 2003 first solo debut album The Last Don, “Dale Don Dale,” was produced by tastemakers Luny Tunes and Cheka. The Carolina native, born William Omar Landrón Rivera, grew up idolizing rappers like Vico C. Throughout his youth, Don Omar was involved with the Protestant Church and occasionally offered sermons, trading it for music after four years. This track helped the rapper receive international recognition.