Petra R. Rivera-Rideau’s article on reggaeton principally presents the musical genre, reggaeton, and its artists as a concept that has been racialized in the United States, similarly to how Puerto Ricans have been characterized as similar, but still a different sector from African Americans. She argues that reggaeton as simply hip-hop or simply Latino music as understood by the United States is not its true essence. The identity of reggaeton is complex and is a result of many different elements, mainly a diaspora that includes aspects of race, class, and gender.
Firstly, when discussing reggaeton, it is impossible to exclude Daddy Yankee’s “Gasolina.” This track is the biggest reason for how reggaeton became introduced into the United States. However, the United States narrowly viewed the music as Latino and the the artists’ appearances were emphasized as “not quite black.” With this new style of music and its integration into U.S. society, an evolution of the music ensued. It became more popularized among radio stations, but at the same time, stereotypes started to develop and the term “Hurban” was implemented to describe the audience of the music. Hurban proves to be a very complex term comprised of the words Hispanic and urban. The Hispanic portion homogenizes the Latin American population as one very large audience. The other part of the word, urban, is actually an indirect way to refer to blackness, low class stature, and stereotypical occurrences that are part of urban areas, such as violence and crime. The author describes it as a counterpoint for the “homogeneous, white, middle-class, and suburban United States.” Hip-hop also contributes greatly to the meaning of Hurban as it has also been racialized as strictly a form of music for blacks.
Another factor besides race and class that contribute to the evolution of reggaeton is gender. Reggaeton has been compared to gangsta rap, which both stereotypically represent thug masculinity. The music is very sexualized and the rappers are often depicted as tough men who enjoy to party. However, as the author suggests, these comparisons are lyrically based, are often highlighted by the media, and are ultimately inadequate. The musicality and the diaspora that created reggaeton are being ignored.
As a result, the author effectively explains the misconceptions about reggaeton and delineates that reggaeton is a a way for “disrupting the boundaries between blackness and Latinidad that have become so entrenched in the United States.” Reggaeton can be seen as a way to understand cultural exchange because as it has spread, it has allowed more people to gain an understanding for its connections with hip-hop, its African diasporic history, and artists, like Notch can continue to demonstrate its distinct identity.