Dancing with the Reggaeton Vote

Until recently, the Puerto Rican dancehall music reggaeton was better known for its sexualized dance moves than political messaging. That changed when musician Daddy Yankee, complete with signature sunglasses, stood proudly on stage with John McCain, talked about immigration policy, and endorsed the Arizona senator for president.

Now, reggaetoneros like Daddy Yankee have taken center stage in the 2008 election, Marisol LeBrón writes for NACLA. Barack Obama’s campaign quickly garnered endorsements from other prominent reggaeton artists including Don Omar, Julio Voltio and Puerto Rican-American rapper Fat Joe. The International Herald Tribunereports that Daddy Yankee turned to more local politics, moderating a televised gubernatorial debate on the island that was designed to attract young voters. 

Unhappy that reggaetoneros“are being used in an effort to attract youth to a political system that systematically ignores their concerns,” NACLA reports that protesters showed up at Daddy Yankee’s moderated debate, burning his albums in defiance. One artist Sietenueve released a scathing single called “Quedate Callao” (“Shut Up”) insulting Daddy Yankee for his political ignorance (video available below).

The problem wasn’t that reggaetoneros were engaging in politics. According to NACLA, Daddy Yankee’s political endorsements and debate moderating “threatened to turn reggaetón into a hollow signifier, separating it from its radical and subversive potential.”

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