Spanish-Language Hip Hop

Hip Hop turned 50 in August of this year! The iconic music form originated in New York City, specifically the Bronx in predominantly Black and Brown communities. Puerto Rican New Yorkers, fondly known as Nuyoricans, were and still are immensely influential in the development of Hip Hop. Although the majority of old school and newer Hip Hop is a largely AAVE and English-based genre, Spanish language Hip Hop has been around for almost as long as the mother genre and has often included Spanglish influence. Via cassettes and bootlegs of songs recorded in NYC and other places around the US, the genre spread to Spain and Latin America throughout the 80s and 90s. 

While Spanish rap and hip hop currently has a strong grasp across Latin America, the wave largely began in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and their US communities. Icons such as Vico C, Ivy Queen, Tego Calderón, and Orishas just to name a few (seriously there are so many) laid the foundation of modern Spanish hip hop which acted as a parent genre to reggaetón. In Spain during the 90s Hip Hop musicians started showing up on the music scene, musicians such as El Chojin and NACH were some of the first. Both rappers created inspiring music that tackled social inequities due to racism, anti-immigrant sentiment, domestic abuse, and other difficulties that their communities faced.

In 2005 Red Bull launched Batalla de los Gallos, a rap battle competition which helped bolster the growing scene across Spain and Latin America while launching its winners and participants into stardom. Similarly, El Quinto Escalón is a rap battle competition based in Buenos Aires, Argentina that has similarly impacted the lives of rappers in the region. These competitions have enabled the continued growth of Spanish-Language Hip Hop and allowed for emerging rappers to create community in the process. Spanish Language hip hop has been around since the beginning and it will continue to expand and be informed by the diverse experiences of its practitioners across Latin America and Spain.

If you are interested in learning more the Reed Spanish department has invited Charlie Hankin, a specialist on hip hop and Afrodiasporic poetics, to speak about hip hop poetics in the Americas on November 9th from 4:40pm to 5:30pm in Eliot 314