Women Who Are Shaking Up Reggaetón
Women Who Are Shaking Up Reggaetón
Sound Signal

Women Who Are Shaking Up Reggaetón

As the style's gone global, its stars have become more diverse.

Reggaetón has a complex history, dating back to the '80s and shaped by migration. Characterized by its instantly recognizable "dem bow" rhythm, the music draws on ideas from Panamanian reggae en español, Jamaican dancehall, Puerto Rican el underground, and New York hip-hop. 

Though once propagated exclusively by and between Latinx artists outside the mainstream, reggaetón has grown to be one of the most popular and influential musical forms worldwide. Bad Bunny has captured headlines thanks to his record-breaking dominance—he was recently named the world’s most streamed artist on Spotify for the third consecutive year—and before him Daddy Yankee, J Balvin, Rauw Alejandro, and Romeo Santos did plenty of the legwork that's made reggaetón a household word (and sound). 

Most of the artists who’ve been celebrated for their contributions to this music have been men, but it's a mistake to overlook the amazing women who’ve paved the way for many modern-day reggaetón acts. The feminist bops of lvy Queen (who hosted 2021's LOUD podcast) and La Sista—like “Yo Quiero Bailar” and “Destino Cruel,” respectively—are as propulsive as the songs of their male peers, and often contain powerful messages. The former, for instance, became a rallying cry for women reserving the right to dance freely without owing men sexual favors.

Today, a new class of women reggaetoneros continue to challenge traditional images of the genre. In the last few years, more women have succeeded in the streaming space, adopting a kind of bravado typically associated with reggaetón’s boys' club. That reflects a culture shift: The popularization of transgressive, anti-colonialist thought in the countries reggaetoneros call home is a factor, as well as progressive opinions on gender identity and sexuality (Bad Bunny’s not alone in his rejection of gender norms). 

Women are at the forefront of this movement. In 2017, Mexican American pop star Becky G, formerly known for her Katy Perry-esque viral hit “Shower,” dropped “Mayores,” a collaboration with Bad Bunny and her first foray into reggaetón, and the music video currently has 2.2B views. “Sin Pijama,” her 2018 collaboration with Natti Natasha, celebrated women’s sexuality in a way that was relatively unheard-of in the reggaetón space. No longer: Natasha has over 12.9M monthly Spotify listeners herself. Colombia’s Karol G currently has 49.5M monthly Spotify listeners and climbing. Puerto Rico's Young Miko is a challenger to the urbano scene, with over 25M views on her trappy “Lisa.” And fellow Puerto Rican paopao has become a streaming powerhouse as well. 

These are all artists experiencing exponential growth on their own terms, a historic gain for the genre and Latin music at large.

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