Chile: As If Reggaeton Never Happened

Google Reader recently put me onto this shadeypiratey blog which recently has posted a helluva lot of Chilean dancehall, like these two (seemingly legit) mixtapes. As a genre the idea of a non-Jamaican dancehall is hardly surprising - you've got similar genres all over Africa, for example, and as usual it blends seamlessly into hip-hop. But in Latin America these days you'd think that sort of thing would involve an engagement with reggaeton, which after all is derived from the same source and started out as a similar Spanish-language version of dancehall.

Instead, these Chileans skip it entirely. Interestingly, they seem perfectly aware of and revere the roots in reggae en español, but their music forms an entirely separate strand which shuns any innovations made by the Puerto Ricans. In the mixtape above the list of countries in the liner notes actively doesn't include Puerto Rico, and at the same time shouts out to "de rest that knows the truth about spanish Reggae."

It's a wilfully perverse parallel universe. The Chileans have gone for the kind of hard-man gangsta image you hardly see in reggaeton these days, and the dancing aspect is wilfully downplayed. Equally much, they seem to play up the reggae influences as much as possible, resulting in this kind of rather wonderful hybrid:

Which is basically one-drop reggae except with a hip-hop beat instead, and some sort of rapping on top. Funnily enough it has the kind of gun-cocking sound effects you used to see in reggaeton... Or alternatively, there's basically hip-hop with a bit of one-drop feel and dancehall-style toasting:

Or the smoothed-out hybrid of all three that ORD presents.

In any case it's interesting, especially in the light of the nasty anti-reggaeton movement. I've not read up on it as much as I should, but I'm guessing a crucial factor here is gender: dancehall here is "male music", reggaeton, as it has been transcultured to the chileans, is "female". Doing a search for "chile reggaeton" produces material that is R&B-ish, poppy, club-oriented or a bit hokey, none of the hardboiled stuff. In any case, it seems to be a tough battle for revision. If we go by search numbers alone reggaeton still easily wins out...

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