Jasmine Garsd joins David Dye to discuss Reggaeton's eclectic mix of salsa, hip-hop and reggae. On the eleventh installment of Latin Roots, NPR's Jasmine Garsd discusses the history of Reggaeton. Born and raised in Beunos Aires, Garsd spent her teenage years hooked on Argentinian rock. Garsd moved to the United States after high school, where she encountered an eclectic mix of American music as well. She co-hosts NPR's online program Alt. Latino with Felix Contreras.
Garsd traces the roots of Reggaeton to Jamaican migrant laborers who brought reggae to Panama in the '70s, laying the basis for Spanish Reggae. From Panama and Puerto Rico arose a distinct blend of salsa, rap, hip-hop and reggae with a characteristic beat called "dembow". From its origins until the mid-90's, Reggaeton was a strictly underground genre and discussed drugs, urban crime, and sex. The Puerto Rican government cracked down on Reggaeton much like the US government reacted to gangster rap. Reggaeton often gets a bad rap from music purists, although Garsd defends the genre's particular confluence of styles and simple rhythms as true Latin urban expression.