Niche y Más

October Playlist






Estoy Como Que Loco Estoy Como Que Loco - Estoy Como Que Loco - Single Timbalive Salsa USA
Thriller Tony Succar Salsa USA
Cali Pachanguero Cali Pachanguero - Sólo Hits: Grupo Niche Grupo Niche Salsa Colombia
Aprieta Aprieta - Aprieta - Single Grupo Niche Salsa Colombia
El Mas Rico Beso Orquesta Guayacan Salsa Colombia
Cada Día Que Pasa Cada Dia Que Pasa - V.I.P. Edition Orquesta Guayacan Salsa Colombia
Son De Cali Son de Cali Salsa Colombia
No Quiero Dormir Son de Cali Salsa Colombia
Lejos Lejos - Lejos - Single Toby Love Bachata Puerto Rico
Mi Colombianita Mi Colombianita - Mi Colombianita - Single Yunel Cruz Bachata USA
El Cachito El Cachito - La Formula Cubana! Kola Loka Merengue Electronico Cuba
Musica Kafu Banton Reggae en Español Panama
Pasarela Pasarela - Prestige Daddy Yankee Reggaeton Puerto Rico


Colombians are passionate about their salsa, both the music and the dance, so it should come as no surprise that Colombia is a hotbed of excellent, high energy salsa music and home to a large number of internationally renowned salsa groups.  It also should not be too surprising that the international capital of salsa, Cali, is found in Colombia.  One of the most well-known groups to call this city home is Grupo Niche.  This band set the stage for what defines Colombian salsa today and has spawned a number of spin-off groups and copycats.  If you are interested in getting into Colombian salsa Grupo Niche is definitely the place to start.

Grupo Niche

Founded in 1978 by the late Jairo Varela and Alexis Lozano Grupo Niche was originally based in Colombia’s capital, Bogota.  However, after a couple of albums and some limited success the group relocated to Cali in 1982.  The fortunes of the band definitely improved after the move and it was in 1984 that they released their most well-known song Cali Pachanguero.  The group’s success continued over the years as they set a trend for making well-orchestrated music that was infectious to listen to and excellent for dancing and with over 30 years of success behind them they have quite the collection of 40 some albums and compilations to prove it.  The band is still going today though they haven’t released any new material for a year or more.  The rate at which they have been producing music has slowed down in recent years and the fact that Varela passed away in August of this year will likely cause that trend to continue.  I have included a couple of their songs in this month’s play list; Cali Pachanguero and one of their more recent offerings, Aprieta.

Orquesta Guayacan

Alexis Lozano founded Grupo Niche with Jairo Varela and together they released the group’s first 4 albums.  However, the two had some differences on matters of business and music and Lozano left the group and went on to form Orquesta Guayacan in 1986.  Grupo Niche was becoming the dominant salsa band in Colombia at the time and it wasn’t until the early 90’s that Qrquesta Guayacan’s unique salsa sound started to give Grupo Niche a run for its money.  Like Grupo Niche, Orquesta Guayacan’s salsa is definitely Colombian but their sound has been described as ‘rootsier’ with more influence coming from Cuban guaguanco and montuno.  Almost as prolific as Grupo Niche the band has put out over 20 albums to date.  I have included a couple of their songs in this month’s play list.  One of their classic tracks, Cada Día Que Pasa from the album Sentimental De Punta a Punta (1991) and one from the recent release Bueno y Más (2009) called El Más Rico Beso.

Son de Cali

Another Grupo Niche spin-off was Son de Cali.  The band was founded in 2002 by Willy Gracia and Javier Vásquez who after having spent several years with Grupo Niche decided to break out on their own.  The musical creativity for the group came predominantly from Gracia who did much of the writing as well as some of the vocals.  Son de Cali released 4 albums over the 9 years they were together but it appears that as of 2011 both artists have gone their separate ways (though the Son de Cali web site is still up and running).  Gracia released a solo album called Sigo Presente at the end of 2011 and Vásquez released his own solo album, Aquí Estoy this year.  I have included a couple of Son de Cali’s songs in this month’s playlist; one from their first album Estilo Propio called Son De Cali and one off a more recent album Cambiando la Historia called No Quiero Dormir.

That’s it for this month.  Questions, comments, requests?  Send me an email

Hasta la próxima


Reggaeton – The Beginnings

August Playlist Highlights





Dem Bow Dem Bow - Caan Dun Shabba Ranks Dancehall Jamaica
Tu Pum Pum Tu Pum Pum - PR CD #2 El General Reggae en Español Panama
Madman Kafu Banton Reggae en Español Panama
Saborealo Saborealo - PR CD #2 Vico C Rap en Español Puerto Rico
No Lo Derrumbes No Lo Derrumbes - No Lo Derrumbes Lisa M Rap en Español Puerto Rico
Todas las Yales Todas las Yales - Playero 41: Past Present & Future, Pt. 1 Daddy Yankee Underground Puerto Rico
Descontrol Descontrol - Playero 41: Past Present & Future, Pt. 1 Nicky Jam Underground Puerto Rico
Dem Bow Dem Bow - Jamz TV Hits, Vol. 2 Wisin y Yandel Reggaeton Puerto Rico
Lora, Lora Llora, Llora (feat. Oscar D'Leon) - The Underdog - El Subestimado Tego Calderon Salsaton Puerto Rico
Salsaton Salsaton (Salsa) - Voglio scoprir l'America El Rubio Loco Salsaton Italy
Vem Dancar Kuduro Vem Dancar Kuduro - Vem Dancar Kuduro - Single Lucenzo Kuduro France


Part 1

Reggaeton in its current form has only been around for a couple of decades.  However, within that short period of time it has become hugely popular.   This is not only true in countries where it has its origins such a Puerto Rico and Panama but in other countries where there are large Latin communities such as the US and Cuba.  What has made the genre so popular so quickly is up for debate: artists may like the genre because it is relatively easy to make reggaeton music (unlike many other Latin musical styles you don’t need half a dozen musicians to make reggaeton),  audiences may like it because the music is built on uncomplicated and very danceable rhythms.  Regardless of the reasons the fact of the matter is that reggaeton is here to stay.  As such, over the next couple of blog posts I am going to dig a bit into what reggaeton is, where it came from and who is making it.

What is Reggaeton and where did it come from?

In the simplest terms any music with a dem bow rhythm (boom-ch-boom-chick) could be considered reggaeton.  You will hear this rhythm in one form or another in all reggaeton music.  In my opinion, if you can’t hear that rhythm it’s not reggaeton.  However,  the dem bow rhythm did not originate with reggaeton nor is it exclusive to reggaeton.  Case in point, Danza Kuduro though released by the reggaeton artist Don Omar, is not reggaeton (it’s actually Kuduro).    You will also find the dem bow rhythm in dancehall, reggae, salsa, bachata and other musical styles.  So obviously reggaeton is more than just a rhythm, but if it’s more than just a rhythm what makes reggaeton reggaeton?  To answer that question it may be easiest to look at the origins of the genre.

The name reggaeton gives away the fact that the music has its origins at least in part in Jamaican reggae.  Also, the dem bow rhythm that I mentioned early has its origins in another Jamaican musical style called dancehall (specifically, the dem bow rhythm or riddim comes from a song by Shabba Ranks by the same name and has been attributed to the Jamaican producer Bobby Digital).  That said, reggaeton is sung in Spanish and Jamaican reggae and dancehall for the most part aren’t.   This leads us to Panama where Jamaican reggae has had a huge influence on the musical landscape.  Panama has a large number of Jamaican immigrants who have been coming to the country for decades and have brought their music with them.  Panamanians quickly adopted this music and made it their own by adapting Jamaican riddims and adding Spanish lyrics, which lead to the development of the genre known as reggae en español.

At the time reggae en español was increasing in popularity in Panama it was also finding an audience in Puerto Rico.  However, not only reggae was impacting Puerto Rican music, so was American hip-hop.  US made Spanish or Spanglish hip-hop was making its way into Puerto Rico where local artists such as Vico C were taking it and making it their own.  This led to the development of  a genre called rap en español.  Puerto Rican DJs were then taking this hip-hop inspired music, along with reggae and other musical styles and mashing them up into something different again.  Originally, this new music was popular among poorer or marginalized segments of the Puerto Rican population and had limited access to commercial distribution channels.  As such, it was often referred to as ‘underground’ music and developed a public stigma to match its name.  The stigma was bad enough that at one point the Puerto Rican government banned the music and raided a bunch of record stores that were selling it.  Not surprisingly this likely increased the popularity of underground music more than anything else.

Underground music continued to evolve through the 1990’s and arguably it is from this  music scene that the reggaeton of today evolved.  Case in point, it is from the underground scene that the name reggaeton comes from.  The story goes that one of the big DJs at the time, DJ Nelson, was making an album and came up with the name by blending the words reggae and marathon.  The birth of modern reggaeton in Puerto Rico would also help to explain why Puerto Rican artists dominate the reggaeton scene.  No doubt it has also been helpful that Puerto Rico is a territory of the US, which has allowed Puerto Rican artists easier access to distribution challenges and production studios that have been harder to come by for artists in other Latin American countries.

To conclude, I have gone from the reggae and dancehall of Jamaica to reggae en español from Panama to American hip-hop to Puerto Rican rap en español and underground to end up at modern day reggaeton.  None of these genres are reggaeton but they all have a claim in making it what it is today.   Of course, there is much more to the reggaeton story and the music than what I have presented here, but ultimately reggaeton is an evolving musical style.  What it was 10 years ago is not what it is today and not what it will be in 10 years from now.   However the music evolves, my suspicion is that reggaeton will continue to increase in popularity and become more and more mainstream.   But more on that in the next blog post.

If you are interested in finding out more about the genre I would recommend the book “Reggaeton”  by Raquel Z. Rivera, Wayne Marshall and Deborah Pecini Hernandez.  The Documentary “Chosen Few”  produced by Boy Wonder is also  worth having a look at.

Questions, comments, requests? Send me an email.

Hasta la próxima




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