Salsa Music and Political Corruption

Detail from "Compleat chart of the West Indies" by Thomas Jeffreys circa 1775

Salsa Music and Political Disruption

Raquel Capellan

Abstract:

This paper will focus on Puerto Rico, a Caribbean island, also known as the “Island of Enchantment.” The particular issue being addressed is the political disruption that has emerged from salsa music during the past several decades and how it has affected the imperialist relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States. Furthermore, this research project will consist of analyzing salsa music and concentrating on the political corruption it caused between the United States (the diaspora) and Puerto Rico.

Introduction:

From its origin in the 1920’s in Cuba, salsa music still carries a strong presence throughout Puerto Rico and the United States in the present year, 2016. Salsa music has traveled a long journey in order to gain formal acceptance into society in the United States and Puerto Rico. Although salsa originated in Cuba, this research paper will concentrate on the popularity of the music genre in New York and on the indications of it being highly associated with Puerto Rico despite of it originating in Cuba. Some of the salsa artists focused on in this research project are Hector Lavoe, Marc Anthony, Willie Colon, and Calle 13.

The political messages salsa music sends through various songs by the previously Salsa_silhouettementioned popular Puerto Rican salsa artists are indications of what is going on in the island and the diaspora. Those particular artists express the pride or orgullo they have in their culture and discuss political corruption occurring within the communities they were raised in or are a part of. Each artist varies in era and the political messages they express within their music. They bring a different spin and perspective through their music, which demonstrates the evolution and development of salsa and reggaeton.

Another portion of this project will focus on Calle 13, reggaeton or Spanish rap music group. Calle 13 has a reputation for releasing songs with very politically engaging and culturally charged lyrics. They are frequently criticized for their vulgar language and blunt lyrics regarding the political oppression occurring in Puerto Rico and in other countries throughout the Caribbean and Latin-America. A popular song by Calle 13 named “Latino-America” is filled with lyrics that demonstrate the strength and resilience contained within the pride of Latinos. The song speaks of the fact that happiness, the son, rain, pain, and bright colors associated with Latino pride cannot be bought. Those precious, intangible aspects of Latino culture cannot be taken away from Latin-America or the Caribbean regardless of political corruption, economic troubles, and financial hardships.

“Soy lo que me enseño mi padre
El que no quiere a su patria no quiere a su madre
Soy américa latina
Un pueblo sin piernas pero que camina, oye”- Calle 13- “Latino-America”

Calle_13                     Old San Juan