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By Jerry Flattum - 10/20/2005 - 01:36 PM EDT

Although no single Reggae artist has quite gained the popularity of legendary Bob Marley, Reggae’s influence on Pop music is unmistakable, and the newest Reggae spin-off, Reggaeton (pronounced reggae-TONE), is a testament to its legacy.

Reggaeton’s influences reveal the influences of its birth mother. Reggaeton combines Reggae, Hip-Hop, Rap, R&B, Cumbia, Merengue, Bachata, Bomba and other Latino influences, with Puerto Rico as its birthplace. Ska and New Orleans-style R&B gave birth to Reggae, with its birthplace in Jamaica.

It’s initial journey to the US spread from Puerto Rico through New York and into LA from Central America. Panamanians were mixing up their own mix of reggae and Latino during the 70s and 80s.

From DJs to record labels, Reggaeton now enjoys top of the chart success and has since circa 2003. The CD Barrio Fino by Daddy Yankee, is the first Reggaeton album to break Billboard’s Top 30 with the hit, “Gasolina,” and is destined to be a million seller. The song, "Oye Mi Canto" by New York rapper N.O.R.E. with Daddy Yankee also helped to introduce Raggaeton to a wider audience when it hit the Top 20.

Like all major genres—Blues, Jazz, Folk, Rock—Reggae weaves its way through the Pop music tapestry, giving birth to “designer” genres almost as numerous as the artists who embrace it. No doubt, Reggaeton will do the same once it begins to mingle more with Rock, Electronica and other styles.

The beat of reggaeton is based on the beat of Jamaican dancehall music, but with more muscle. Gang vocals, chants, Gangsta-style rapping and a heavy party flavor are its colors. Dancers do a suggestively sexy thing called the "el perreo," a.k.a. sex doggie style.

Reggaeton competes with Salsa in terms of sales, but the two will continue to borrow elements from each other as the style develops. Spanish-language rap has increased in popularity because of Reggaeton. Reggaeton's danceability and an increase in the use of English lyrics and rap will help crossover to mainstream. The lyrics are sometimes political, but it's the sex and party aspects of Reggaeton that excite dancers.

Universal Music has dedicated a label, Machete Music, to further develop Reggaeton artists and spread the beat. Reggaeton is associated with drugs, gangs, violence and sex, but that certainly never stopped rock and roll or R&B. Illegal sampling of other records, no censorship and a distrust of major labels remain issues. And, because of the language barrier, English audiences are still slow to accept the new style. The MTV Video Music Awards of 2005 featured Daddy Yankee, Don Omar, and Tego Calderón.

Partial List of Artists:
Daddy Yankee
Vico C
Luny Tunes
Ricky Martin
Zion y Lennox
Hector y Tito
Ivy Queen
Tego Calderon
Julio Voltio
Trebol Clan
Wisin y Yandel
Don Omar
Hector "El Bambino"
Eliel Lind
Mario Vi

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