Listening Carefully: Musical Stereotypes Amongst Hispanics [Teen Article]

Listening CafefullyGema is an 18-year old from Miami, FL. She loves reading and writing young adult fiction and claims to pass out in the presence of sterile wit.

As a Hispanic, I’ve gotten used to stereotypes. A vast majority of people think that we Hispanics are all illegal, loud and work as servants or in construction. There have been so many jokes that I’ve armored myself against the stereotypes by seeing the light comical side of them. However, there are still some stereotypes that make my head twitch. One of them is the notion that all of us Hispanics love a genre of music called reggaeton.

Let’s start with this: What is reggaeton? Reggaeton is a relatively new genre of music. Some describe it as a mix between reggae with a hip-hop persona and Spanish vocals. This is an incredibly simple and pragmatic definition. In my opinion, reggaeton is just music with such an unchanging rhythm that it feels like you’re listening to a scratched CD with Spanish rap.

I’ll admit that reggaeton is extremely popular among Hispanics. It is modern and designed to dance. But this does not mean that every single Hispanic loves it. That is like saying that every single African American is obsessed with hip hop, or that every person in Seattle loves grunge. To say this would be to insult all people who dislike the genre. While there are Hispanics who live and breathe reggaeton, there are those who have created websites which petition against it because they can’t understand how a genre with such alliterative rhythm and misogynistic themes can be considered music. These are the Hispanics that change the station when such songs come on and feel ashamed when a non-Hispanic associates them with the category.

Whether or not reggaeton should be considered “music” or not is not the point. The point is that not all Hispanics center themselves in this genre. Believe it or not, we Hispanics-like the rest of the world- like variety. (Those in and out of the United States). For example, my ipod holds a spectrum of music, some of which I rate five stars and others that I hide in a guilty-pleasure playlist. Some of those playlists are the following:

  • There are the classics. These are the songs that made an impression on me many decades ago in a previous life
    • I Shot the Sheriff –Bob Marley
    • Stand By Me –BB King
    • Feeling Good –Nina Simone (also Michael Bublé and Muse’s cover)
    • Stairway to Heaven –Led Zeppelin
    • California Dreamin’ –The Mama and The Papa
  • There are also the artists that either sing to your soul or scare it to the world via heavy drums, grinding guitars, airy vocals or existential lyrics
    • Mono
    • Fiona Apple
    • Nirvana
    • Korn
    • Radiohead
    • Alice in Chains
  • Then there are the soundtracks that make any movie worth the ten dollar ticket stub (Or the occasional seat to a Broadway Musical)
    • SAW
    • Requiem for a Dream
    • Underworld
    • Perfume, Story of a Murderer
    • Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
    • Man of the Mancha

The lists continue. There are many Hispanics with a much wider musical spectrum than mine. It is a shame that the rest of the world thinks that we’re all stuck in the quicksand that is reggaeton.

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One Response to “Listening Carefully: Musical Stereotypes Amongst Hispanics [Teen Article]”

  1. Cathy Jimenez
    May 28, 2009 at 2:49 pm #

    Thank you for writing this article. I too am sick of the generalizations. And what is worse is that there are people out there that are Latino that continue to make comments that only enforce these stereotypes. It is like they say, “Be the change you wish to see.” If we are sick of the stereotypes don’t encourage them by agreeing and going on to use them ourselves. Sadly I do not think that many are really tired of it and they only see it as a joke.

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