Reggaeton Round Up, Part 1: Puro Plena

A few months ago a friend emailed me pointing out the name of the popular latin artist Nigga.  After doing some poking around on the net I discovered that Nigga is Panamanian and got his name because someone said he sings like a Jamaican.  Probably in a move not un-similar to the Nas album name decision, his name was changed to DJ Flex, for the U.S. market, in fear of offending the United Stateseans (and not Jamaicans?!)
I’ve been hearing a lot of DJ Flex on the radio, with his hit “Te Quiero” and his collaboration with Los Kumbia Allstars “Por Ti Baby” (which is a quite ravey-sounding Cumbia that I’ll post later.)  Plus, whenever I hear “Panama!” or someone sing “Panama Music”  my ears perk up, so I’ve been watching for this dude.  
Panama music is on the rise in the US mainstream.  Mach & Daddy, El Roockie, Factoria, Eddy Lover, DJ Flex, and Macano all have hits on my local radio that compete with the Puerto Rican mainstays.  They’re names aren’t so familiar to the English market yet, like Daddy Yankee but people are speculating that they will be soon.
International Superstars Mach & Daddy

My love for Panamanian music is in its fusions, a result of the country’s mixed cultural identity and history.  The style that crooners such as Eddy Lover, DJ Flex, and Macano do is refered to as Reggae Romantic Style a la perhaps what is known in the UK and Jamaican circles as Lover’s Rock.  Mach & Daddy and La Factoria have blasted into the international market with high energy Reggae-Soca hybrids, and folks like Aldo Ranks and el Principal are probably not far behind.  Plus, you can’t forget the hardcore dancehall from the likes of Kafu Banton, or Japanese, or the classic early Spanish Reggae from the likes of El General.
Check out this great round up (with sound clips!) of current Plena in Panama from Larnies Bowen who is a fulbright scholar from the U.S., sent in collaboration with MTV to do some studying on the Afro-Antillean community in Panama and the wonderful music called Reggae!
More on this coming soon…


  1. Boima
    Jun 11, 2008

    From DJ Rupture:

    “”FYI, his name change in US markets isn’t quite… complete. Round the corner from where I live in Brooklyn, you can get NIGGA posters and CDs and whatnot. with the latino community here Nigga seems like the more well-known moniker. which is awesome and totally unconnected to Nas’album title motivations — ie not a drop of politicality, “Nigga” is used more like “negra” in latin lyrics””

  2. Boima
    Jun 11, 2008

    re: Nigga name change. I think what’s interesting is that if you do minimal research to find out about the artist, you can find out what his real name is. That’s the funny thing. It’s more telling about the racist attitudes of the U.S. (and more specifically his U.S. distribution company) than the existence of a racist idea of the artist.

    And yeah, just like mulatto, and negra latinos aren’t shy about signifying race, (mami el negro esta rabioso) but then are quick to deny racism (which definitely exists.) The young lady doing research for the fulbright as a negra is finding out about the use of these terms, and I suspect learning to embrace that term of endearment. I have to say after I started hanging out with Latinos I’ve embraced the word mulatto and become more proud of it. I also think the use of nigga kind of points to influence from the U.S. slang tho, a kind of norte-americanizacion of Afro-identity. Something that on some levels signify’s a soldiarity of people of African descent across borders. Say it loud!

    (On a side note, a lot of Mexican, Salvadorean, non-black youth in the bay area, and I’m sure all over the U.S., use Nigga, as well as Chinese kids, as sort of a hip hop lingua franca. I find this interesting, as I’ve been called Nigga by young non-black latino neighbors, which felt really strange.)

  3. Soul Cocina
    Jun 11, 2008

    In the Mission here in SF his cd’s are mostly sold under his OG name “Nigga” except for corporate Ritmo Latino. Latino dudes call me nigga too, and I’m just a goofy güero. I hear lots of Asian and white kids on the bus call everyone nigga. Even when I worked at a preschool in SF, kids at 5 years old, of all races, used the term… no joke.

    The latest volume of my “East of El Rio Dolores mix” ended with a snippet of Nigga on the Intercom Riddim.. guess the next volume will have to start where the last left off.


  4. Larnies
    Jun 18, 2008

    Hey Boima!! I was pleasantly surprised to see you mention a playlist I put up on my blog a while back. Glad you appreciated it! I enjoyed reading your blog and it’s nice to see that Panamanian music is on the come-up in the US. It’s about time!!!

  5. nick
    Oct 11, 2008

    I wanna know how Japanese got his name.

  6. Anonymous
    Feb 19, 2009

    Since I remember, reggae es popular in Panamá. Im 26 years old.
    You know who is Ruben Blades????
    My country have a lot of old and new talents.
    Sorry for my english… is too bad.

    Solo quería que los supieran, a los regueseros Panameños de los años 80 (Chicho man, Nando Boom…etc) les faltó visión y ambición, pero nunca talento!

  7. reggaeton 2011
    Jan 14, 2011

    i really love how they are giving importance to reggaeton in US or UK

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