Martes, 26 de Marzo de 2019
Última actualización: 21:21 CET

Anywhere, anytime: reggaeton

A reggaeton singer in a private studio. (M. GUERRA PÉREZ)

"You're crazy, sick, reckless," goes the chorus of one of the tunes by the singer  El Chacal, along with the group Los Cuatro, among the most popular on the Island.

Reggaeton is one of the musical genres most listened to by Cubans. Despite the authorities' insistent criticism of its lyrics, and attempts to limit the public forums where it can be played, and its omission from (State) media, this music is still ubiquitous, heard by both those who enjoy it and for its critics; in taxis, buses, cafes, restaurants, schools...almost where there is a device that can play it, you can hear reggaeton.

Those who do not appreciate this "invasion" find the genre offensive and point out its that lyrics are pointless and degrading to women.

Its musicians, meanwhile, have engaged in clashes, attacking and insulting each other. More than a few admit that they resort to explicit lyrics that can often be audacious.

"My lyrics are romantic and mellow, a fusion with reggaeton, but I always have to write a more provocative song or two to reach out to audiences. It shouldn't be that way, but it's what most people want to hear. I'm against music that's offensive to women," says the singer El Proklive.

"To reach audiences reggaeton singers have to use bawdy lyrics, for it to be heard on heard on the street. It’s what young people like. As the years have passed, it’s clear that it’s what people want to hear," says William Sánchez, a singer, song writer and one of the earliest musicians in this genre in Cuba.

"It's a bit sad what we see today: primary school kids who can sing a whole reggaeton song, but probably don't know the National Anthem, or the multiplication table," says one teacher.

Despite the public's acceptance of this music, "we have never been able to perform a concert with multiple reggaeton groups," complains singer Meyse d Perce. "The Culture Ministry doesn't let us. In fact, in most cases we have to say we're a salsa group, or some other musical genre, to be able to perform in public places," he adds.

However, "it’s a different story with big names who fill venues, for whom doors are open at places that attract tourists, or where tickets are more expensive," he says.

The genre and its fan base continues to grow, although many of the performers and song writers have no musical education. Some make a lot of money turning their homes into recording studios.

Facing a lack of official promotion, reggaeton reaches fans through the well-known Paquete, flash drives and shows at discos.

Venues featuring reggaeton performers charge prices ranging from 5 all the way up to 50 CUC.

Its popularity is surprising, and belies propaganda claiming that Cubans boast a high cultural level.

"Some reggaeton artists use very lewd lyrics, but this is just a response to circumstances, as those who have performed in the United States and other places around the world have changed their songs and adapted their messages for different audiences," says the singer Leo Ortiz.

With many performers of this music having settled in the US, many young people have followed their dreams of taking the reggateon path.