Latin Urban Music – Reggaeton’s Evolution

Photo Courtesy Kevin Winter / Getty Images
Latin Urban group Calle 13. Photo Courtesy Kevin Winter / Getty Images

Some of today's most popular artists and hits in Latin music belong to the so-called Urban genre. Although this music category is still largely related to Reggaeton and Hip-Hop, there is a new wave of sounds that is departing from the classic Reggaeton of the early 2000s. Modern Latin Urban music is defined by a new crossover style that combines Reggaeton and Hip-Hop with other genres such as Latin Pop, Dance, Salsa, and Merengue. The following is an overview of one of today's most exciting Latin music genres.

The Origins of Reggaeton

Reggaeton was born by itself as a crossover style influenced by Reggae, Rap, Hip-Hop, and Caribbean genres such as Salsa, Merengue, Soca, and Puerto Rican Bomba. Pioneers of this genre include artists like Rap singer Vico C from Puerto Rico and Panamanian Reggae icon El General.

Many people, in fact, considered El General as the absolute Father of Reggaeton. His music, which initially was treated as Jamaican dancehall music, became known as Reggae in Espanol or Reggaeton because of the combination of Reggae beats with Spanish language lyrics. Throughout the 1990s, El General became a sensation thanks to songs like "Muevelo," "Tu Pum Pum," and "Rica Y Apretadita".

Reggaeton Fever

The music of Vico C and El General left a good foundation for a new generation of artist influenced by the beats of Rap and Hip-Hop. This generation flourished in the 2000s with the works of people like Tego Calderon, Don Omar, and Daddy Yankee. These artists were among the most influential names of the Reggaeton fever that captured the world during that decade. Some of the best Reggaeton songs of that time included singles like Don Omar's "Dile" and Daddy Yankee's worldwide hit "Gasolina".

From Reggaeton to Urban Music

Towards the end of the 2000s, Reggaeton was moving in a new direction. Some of the artists who helped define the Reggaeton fever started to incorporate new sounds into the classic Reggaeton beat. These artists, as well as newcomers in the field, brought all kinds of musical influences to their productions. From Rap and Hip-Hop to Salsa and Merengue, it was evident that there was a new kind of music that needed to be placed in a bigger world than that of Reggaeton.

In the beginning, it was not easy to categorize this emerging phenomenon. However, the term Urban soon became the favorite word to deal with this kind of music. This evolution was, in fact, acknowledged by the 2007 Latin Grammy Awards. That year, the ceremony honored Calle 13 with the first-ever Latin Grammy Award for Best Urban Song.

Since then, Latin Urban music has grown into a very popular genre within Latin music. Although this genre is still closely related to Reggaeton and Hip-Hop, Urban music has become the perfect word to define the music of artists like Calle 13, Pitbull, Daddy Yankee, Chino y Nacho and Don Omar, among others.

What Is Latin Urban Music?

Trying to define Latin Urban music is like trying to define Latin music: It is almost impossible. However, we can say that Latin Urban music is still largely defined by Reggaeton, Hip-Hop, and Rap. Probably the best way to get a feeling for this genre is by taking a look at some of the songs that belong to it. The following are some of the most popular hits of Latin Urban Music:

  • "Danza Kuduro" - Don Omar
  • "La Despedida" - Daddy Yankee
  • "Atrevete te-te" - Calle 13
  • "Niña Bonita" - Chino y Nacho
  • "No Pidas Perdon" - Mala Rodriguez
  • "Give Me Everything" - Pitbull
  • "Estoy Enamorado" - Wisin y Yandel
  • "Hay Un Son" - Orishas
  • "Mi Cama Huele A Ti" - Tito El Bambino
  • "La Vida Es Asi" - Ivy Queen