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Don Omar: Da Hitman Presents Reggaeton Latino

Don Omar: Da Hitman Presents Reggaeton Latino

Release Date:2006

By Jess Harvell | Posted 2/1/2006

If you’re not a fan, it’s hard to talk about reggaeton without sounding like a hater or a hopeless amateur. Like other mass youth movements before it, it has drawn a line in the sand. That line is called “Dem Bow,” and you know it better as “that reggaeton beat,” the lone rhythm that drives 99.9 percent of the music. Like jazz fans bitching about rock or rock fans bitching about disco, everyone agrees that “reggaeton only has one beat!” But the kids just don’t care.

This has less to do with race than age; plenty of older salsa and bachata fans are just as put off by reggaeton’s gangster swagger and relentless trebly snares as the gringos. Massively popular and lurking just under the periphery of mainstream U.S. success, reggaeton feels like the world’s biggest cult. And millions get it; no longer just a Puerto Rican and Dominican phenomenon, anywhere young Latin tastes predominate you’ll hear that beat pounding from cars, on street corners, through walls—for hours.

Don Omar was one of the first reggaeton stars, alongside Daddy Yankee and Tego Calderón, to impact internationally with his bedroom eyes and flair for melody, his serious Churchy side and his air-humping stage presence. Reggaeton Latino is something like the world’s quickest-arriving greatest hits, collecting Omar’s 2003-’05 smashes alongside a handful of remixes. Eschewing reggaeton’s reigning super-producers Luny Tunes, “Dem Bow” is still in full effect, with a series of Vegas-y synthesizer costume changes to disguise the cut-rate backdrop. The presence of non-reggaeton producers helps to keep things moving; Swizz Beatz turns in a particularly banging Latin/hip-hop mash-up of the smash “Dale Don Dale.” Still, by the end of the record your energy levels may be flagging, with the most exciting track coming first. The all-star remix of “Reggaeton Latino” features N.O.R.E. and Fat Joe, who does a mind-bending Spanglish flip-flop as those snares crack like whips. It was such an obvious crossover hit that it did so, one of the biggest since Yankee’s “Gasolina.”

It’s still extremely early in the history of reggaeton; like rap circa 1980, the genre could go anywhere or nowhere at all (though that’s doubtful). For right now, we suggest listening to it in tiny, controlled bursts to avoid burning out. Responsible enjoyment begins at home. Reggaeton may yet to have impacted Baltimore like it has other cities, but it’s probably coming. Sometimes you’re either on the train or under it.

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