Latin Genres Made in the USA
by Rachel Devitt | September 26, 2013
In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month this year, the annual celebration of Latino Americans and Latino culture, we've explored the invaluable contributions Latino musicians and musical movements have made to mainstream American pop. Now we turn to Latin musical genres -- styles associated with or claimed by the Latin music industry and its fans -- that were either born or primarily bred right here in the US of A.
While countries like Cuba, Mexico and Colombia are, of course, significant sources of Latin pop culture, Latino/a Americans have also made the United States a primary source of Latin musics -- styles that have travelled to and become wildly popular throughout Latin America. Mambo, boogaloo and salsa, for example, have strong roots in the Caribbean, of course, but they sprouted wings in cities like New York, where Cuban Americans and "Nuyoricans" worked lines of cultural communication between the Caribbean and U.S. to develop those styles into the foundational genres we know and love today. That tradition continues today with the stateside development of styles like urban bachata by Dominican artists in New York.
Similarly, Tex-Mex, Tejano, conjunto, duranguense and some branches of norteño music were born of the centuries-old cultural exchange between Mexico and the United States (not to mention the shifting borders that resulted in longstanding Mexican American communities in Texas and California). Then we've got the Latino-driven genres created afresh in the United States: West Side Sound (a blend of conjunto and early R&B/rock), Latin freestyle, hip-hop, pachuco boogie, urban regional (or "banda-rap") and more. And don't forget Puerto Rico! As an unincorporated territory of the United States, Puerto Rico is a powerhouse of American-made Latin genres, including reggaeton.