Salsa Music

What is Salsa Music?

Salsa music is a combination of different melodies descending from African heritage, Cuba, and Puerto Rico. Instruments, such as the trombone and the guiro are part of composing the beats and rhythms to create Salsa music. Furthermore, Salsa is very popular in many other countries throughout the Spanish-speaking Caribbean. “Salsa, however, is neither a musical style nor a particular rhythm, but rather a hybrid genre performed mostly by Puerto Ricans in New York and on the island.” (Duany, Jorge, 1984). Duany makes it a clear point that salsa music is not composed of one rhythms from one place, however, he speaks about the musical genre in terms of its foundations in New York and Puerto Rico. “Salsa is a collective term of recent vintage that encompasses several Afro-Latin musical forms. It replaced the older Latin music term and is accepted only begrudgingly by traditionalist musicians.” (Fernandez, Raul A., 2006).

Rise of Political Corruption

Salsa music has encountered many roadblocks and obstacles before being accepted by Puerto Ricans residing in the island and Puerto Ricans living in the United States. It was seen as obnoxious and vulgar in society in the early 1980’s. “As late as 1978, salsa was still referred to by some on the island as ‘an offensive, strident, stupefying, intoxicating, and frenetic music openly associated with the effects of sex, alcohol, and drugs.” (Flores, 120). When comparing the imperialist relationship between people residing in the island to those living in the U.S. mainland, it is evident that both have a unique experience in forming their racial and political identity. Amidst of the adversity and challenges faced by broken communities throughout Puerto Rico and New York Nuyoricans and Puerto Ricans benefit from the uplifting lyrics of salsa songs. Songs from classic and more modern artists like Hector Lavoe, Willie Colon, and Marc Anthony exemplify the pain and struggles of their people. Their desire to unite people all throughout Puerto Rico, New York, and Latin-America has made their music well-known and appreciated by the people.


Communities such as La Perla, areas in Ponce, and Vietnam show the resilience woven through Puerto Rican culture. La Perla is a very poor community, however its people unite and gather during times of economic crises. The city of Ponce is faced with large, amounts of poverty, yet the United States is not stepping in to aid such Puerto Rican communities escape from its crippling amount of debt. Ironically, the quote “Free, but associated state” is heard often throughout the island, but it does not signify that Puerto Rico is truly a free state. Vietnam in Puerto Rico are proof of they have freedom from the imperialist relationship is shares with the United States.

The efforts musicians and artists make through their work aid people living in the diaspora and island have hope in providing inspiring words to hear through salsa music and reggaeton. Both genres contain culturally and politically attention-grabbing songs that of which pinpoint the injustices committed by the government. Therefore, the political disruption that arose after Salsa music began to become more well-known throughout the island and diaspora pushed the musical genre to become accepted by Puerto Ricans living in Puerto Rico. Hector Lavoe, Willie Colon, Marc Anthony, and Calle 13 are among some of the most influential groups and musicians that have revolutionized and created a space for Nuyoricans and those born and living in the island to speak of political disruption from the U.S. government or even from the internalized changes that have occurred in their island as the years have passed.