News flash: There's more to reggaeton than "Gasolina." Other lyrical concerns! Other artists! Other albums! Here are four to consider if you're just now getting started with the genre.
"Barrio Fino," Daddy Yankee (El Cartel/Universal): A runaway commercial and critical success, "Barrio Fino" took the first trophy for reggaeton album of the year at the Billboard Latin Music Awards in April. Deftly produced, it showcases Yankee's variegated flow and his first Spanglish effort ("Like You") and, of course, "Gasolina." Not as gritty as Yankee's earlier efforts, but essential nonetheless.
"Diva Platinum Edition," Ivy Queen (Perfect Image/Universal Latino): Ivy Queen is reggaeton's lone female star. Flamboyant and gangsta-fabulous, Ivy (pronounced E-vee) is every bit as hard-core and cocksure as her male counterparts. The end result is reggaeton's answer to Lil' Kim. "Diva Platinum" includes some hits ("Yo Quiero Bailar," "Papi Ti Quiero"), a handful of remixes -- and a whole lot of attitude.
"Mas Flow Vol. 2," Luny Tunes and Baby Ranks (Mas Flow/Universal Latino): Francisco "Luny" Saldana and Victor "Tunes" Cabrera have produced just about every reggaeton artist of note, from Ivy and Tego Calderon to Don Omar and Yankee. The Dominican-born duo's songs feature jerky dancehall beats and aggressive synthesizer vamps. The standout: Wisin y Yandel's "Rakata," one of the biggest reggaeton hits of the summer.
"Reggaeton City Part 3," DJ Kool Kid (no label, available at www.mixtapekings.com): Countless reggaeton mix tapes are available on the streets and online, but the newest in the "Reggaeton City" series is the CD to buy. Most of the genre's biggest stars are included, but perhaps the most notable thing about the 22-track compilation is the list of interlopers: Crunk diva Ciara, rapper Ludacris, Fat Joe, Nelly and scandalous soulman R. Kelly.
-- J. Freedom du Lac