I always wonder how a “socialism reggaetoniano” would sound like, so I made these homemade samples mixing few Latin American socialist speeches from the ’70s and ’80s and reggaeton tracks. In its origins, reggaeton was about denunciations and grievances against an oppressive economic and political system targetting poor and marginalized communities. Throughout the ’80s, reggaetÃ³n musicians critique racial democracy’s privileging of whiteness and concealment of racism by expressing identities that center blackness, African diasporic belonging, and a search for Latin American identity(ies).
Between 1965 and 1985, military dictatorships held power in nearly every South American country and for a decade longer in Central America. The winding down of military rule beginning in the 1980s generally led to a managed return to electoral democracy under traditional pro-capitalist parties, often those with close ties to Washington. Socialism in Latin America rose out of the ashes of the failed free-market reforms of the late ’80s and early ’90s, a newly confident neoliberalism imposed its domination across the region, if something it was ‘here’ to stay. Both reggaeton and socialism in Latin American were grassroots movements in their origins, but just after a while, US imperialism almost effortless yet systematically managed to dismantle socialism’s aspirations for a new and more equalitarian social order, and reggaeton’s quest for racial&cultural justice.
Nonetheless, I’d like to believe that we (Latin American socialists) can still find answers in the ‘absurdity’ of this association, “Sociaton”, socialismo y reggaeton. Speculative popular culture and ridicule imaginaries is all we have left from a once-underground revolutionary social project and a feisty socially-oriented music genre, which have both been ‘absorbed’ by neoliberal forces and ‘put to bed’ under a decadence spell.
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