Does Reggaeton Have To Be So Vulgar?

By Paula Henriquez

Illustration: periodicovictoria.cu
Illustration: periodicovictoria.cu

HAVANA TIMES — Has anybody ever listened to the lyrics of some reggaeton songs? I hardly understand them, I find it difficult to understand what they’re saying, but when I sit down and focus on the lyrics, I have to admit I don’t like them one bit. Yes, the beat is contagious. Careful, I must confess that I’ve danced to many songs at one party or another, however, the message some of the songs convey… leaves a great deal to be desired.

Behind my house, there’s a “discofiñe”, a kind of club for teens, so you understand what I’m talking about. It’s open every Friday and Saturday and, every weekend, a large crowd of teenagers come, who have nowhere else to go and much less the money to pay to go out, looking to have a good time. Up until there, it’s a great idea, it’s cheap and they even sell reasonably priced snacks.

The only problem though is that they only play reggaeton, not any kind of reggaeton, but the most vulgar kind you can imagine. They listen to the same songs two, three or more times a night. And I ask myself again, has anyone ever sat down and listened to what they say in these reggaeton songs? Or am I the only one struck by all of this?

The aforementioned songs normally deal with social issues, family life, married life, politics, etc. I don’t know what else they touch on, but I know they’re very varied in their content. Alongside the “conflicts” they present, they also put forward “solutions”, and that’s my point, these “solutions” aren’t always the most… appropriate, to say the least.

The sad thing though is to see how many, and here I’m referring to adults as well, make these songs their life philosophy. Verses from these songs become part of popular slang, you can hear people quoting verses about any subject from this genre anywhere.

I know us Cubans are very chatty, that we use proverbs and humorous phrases in our daily speech, but to go from that to include lines from these vulgar songs into our daily speech and actions is going too far… lacking finesse or humor, that’s how a lot of us young people think anyway.

That said, I think about those teenagers, and even children, who go every Friday and Saturday night to the discofiñe, who are learning to follow this philosophy. More than that though I think about its owners and the message they are indirectly sending out to these young human beings in the making everyday. Where are the parents of these teenagers and children? As a mother of a young girl who is reaching adulthood, I must admit this subject worries me a lot… and I know a lot of young and not so young parents who feel the same way too.

Like I said at the beginning, I don’t want to criticize this musical genre, I only want people to reflect upon what they’re listening to. If you haven’t done so already, sit down and really listen to the words of one of these songs and ask yourself if you would adopt it as a lifestyle, as a life philosophy. And ask yourself a more important question, is this what they want, what we want for the future of our children, families and society…?

Paula Henriquez

Paula Henriquez: Since childhood I have been told I should be careful what I say in public. "Think before you speak, especially in front of others," my mother would say, and it was more of a plea than a scolding. Even today I hear her and I obey her, just that I do not speak, I write. Letters and words are my escape, my exit and daily catharsis, which printed on paper, revive me. And this picture is my refuge.


11 thoughts on “Does Reggaeton Have To Be So Vulgar?

  • September 11, 2016 at 6:07 pm
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    Who listens to to reggeaton? Hispanics, a group that has a high teen pregnancy rate and poverty.

    You also fail to mention why advertisers spent hundreds of thousand of dollars for a 30 second commercial if not millions.

    Can you provide any credible data that can guarantee that any type of media has zero effect on kids or teens.

    You can look up vidoes of people not just teens trying to mimic what they see and hear on the media.

  • June 24, 2016 at 4:11 pm
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    I really appreciate people who express their negative opinion about reggaetón because that way I can avoid dull and boring people and they can do the same for me. You know, those people who like overanalyzing things, convincing themselves they’re actually discovering something meaningful, when in fact they’re just showing how insecure they are as a parent, which is the case in this article. Same kind of people who blame songs, movies and video games for their children’s behavior instead of their own parenting skills. It is simply pathetic, just like criticizing listening the same songs and then contradicting themselves by saying they should put on some traditional music, which have already been played a million times for decades. Reggaetón keeps taking over the world and it is here to stay. Greetings from Croatia.

  • June 23, 2016 at 10:55 am
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    Like every genre there is good and bad. I really like some reggaeton songs. eg Hasta la seca Malecon, soltera and gossando en Habana which have really witty and clever lyrics and catchy tunes. But having said that, it is a pity that the immense and rich Cuban culture of music and dance is being lost. Such is life.

  • June 22, 2016 at 10:16 am
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    I agree with ken ,and i do believe or so i hear,that the daughter of raul made it known to the radio and tv station to cease the raggaton garbage…the reason its popular is that you do not have to be a singer to sing it its spoken albiet not very well..all you need is a microphone and a pair of sunglasses and presto your a ragatone star…..for the listeners of this music its easy to understand why they like it snd its because its the same rythem and cubans dislike change ….its so sad that the cuban youth has so adopted this genre of garbage which is so demeaning especially to women.do not dare …do not even compare rigatone to any other kind of music….from rock and roll to opera…..it is simply ignorant macho wannaby singers pretending to sing and pretend that they have something important to say…..i have spoken to many tour guides at various hotels to please tell the DJ to stop this terrible rigatone snd put on the salsa…the meringue…traditiona cuban music because this is what the tourists want to hear…..sad so very sad to hear perverted lyrics
    like rigatone….

  • June 21, 2016 at 3:38 am
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    Although my own favorite music is the Blues, i also enjoy Salsa, and even Reggaeton. All music is good,,, the only type i can’t take is Techno :#

  • June 20, 2016 at 10:03 pm
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    They said the same thing about Rock ‘n Roll.

  • June 20, 2016 at 10:02 pm
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    So how do you really feel?

  • June 20, 2016 at 2:45 pm
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    Reggaeton, punk, heavy metal, and rock all have both detractors and admirers. So-called “celebraties” participating is such forms of entertainment provides no reason for accepting them as pillars of wisdom.

  • June 20, 2016 at 1:12 pm
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    If I find any reason to stop visiting Cuba it would be Regaton .I have been to Cuba 15 x and been in almost every town , city,and village .The traditional music is beautiful , the jazz great , salsa wonderful lively and enjoyable…but rattaton is garbage , not music not anything that could be mistaken for music .If I could talk to Fidel or Raul , or whomever has some decision making power I would ask them to please out law rattaton , do your youth a favor , it is low life vomit that has ruined our young generation in North America with is demeaning , vulgar ,unacceptable lyrics and repiticious no brain formlessness .

  • June 20, 2016 at 12:01 pm
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    Paula: 😀 32 in case you were wonder…

  • June 20, 2016 at 10:26 am
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    You’re showing your age, Paula… 😉

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