Few artists can say that they have been active since the creation of el movimiento and continue to thrive within the scene. One of the indisputable pioneers and architects of sound is DJ Playero, whose impact on music, aesthetics and even the names of genre-conforming legends have been directly affected by his contributions. Legends like these rarely live long enough to see their impact, but Playero witnessed the rise of reggaeton as the world’s dominant sound.
With DJ Negro’s The noise, Playero built an underground San Juan sound that quickly transcended borders. He got his start in the early 90s as a DJ and producer in his native Puerto Rico. Initially, his style leaned towards freestyle, reggae and dancehall, but he showed a growing fascination with the subgenres of hip-hop and electronic music, which he eventually integrated into what we now call reggaeton. His first breakthrough came producing tracks for artists like Lisa M and Vico C.
But it was on his underground mixtapes that he let himself experiment with beats and sounds, truly finding his voice in the process. Playero would take on unsigned local talent to handle the vocals on his beats, nurturing artists who are going for bigger things. Most notably, he gave Daddy Yankee some of his earliest opportunities to shine on record. Other personalities who had their luck thanks to DJ Playero were Nicky Jam, Tempo, Master Joe, Wiso G and many more.
His prolific series of underground mixtapes – literally cassettes sold and traded on the island – made him a go-to producer for early reggaeton sounds. He was there when Perreo was stigmatized by the authorities and his statements were raided by the police. It was also lucky to find recognition once the genre hit its commercial stride. Since then, Playero has become an ambassador of original sound, always DJing at various events. He will play Remezcla House in Palm Springs, Calif., on Friday, April 15, demonstrating why his name is one of the most lauded in the movimiento’s history. Here are six songs that prove Playero is a legend in reggeaton history.
Lisa M – “Ritmo and Sabor”
Playero started out in the Puerto Rican scene DJing and producing a wide range of music. While some of his early credits went to hip-hop-centric projects, like Vico C and Brewly MC, perhaps the first time he showed what he could do was on Lisa M’s. flavor of latin. Playero claims he helped produce some tracks from his previous album, Non Lo Derrumbes, which boasted hits like “Tu Pum Pum” and “Menéalo”, but the music leaned towards established genres like freestyle and merengue. For his next album, Playero displayed a bolder production voice on tracks like “Ritmo y Sabor”, fusing dancehall and reggae with nods to Puerto Rican music here and there, notably in the way the vocals blend together. mix with the rhythms. Playero was still a few years away from putting it all together seamlessly, but you can hear the genesis of his signature song here.
Daddy Yankee – “Ragga Moofin Mix”
DJ Playero and Daddy Yankee go back a long way, and it’s safe to say that they both needed each other to really unleash what they were capable of. The future Big Boss was one of the talented local and unsigned hosts Playero recruited to provide vocals on his mixtape tracks, along with Rey Pirrín, Wiso G, OG Black, Baby J and many more. Hearing Playero in the early 90s Underground mixtape series, he can be found developing his skills as a singer. Still, there are moments that give chills even at the start of his career. Playero gives the first part of 37 UndergroundThe B-side of – titled “Raga Moofin Mix” – to Daddy Yankee, throwing classic reggae and dancehall beats at him to do his thing, responding with technical skill and charisma. These 10 minutes remain a masterclass in catchy flow brilliance and one of the early classics of two titans of el movimiento.
Blanco Flake – “Besa Tu Cuerpo”
DJ Playero is known to be one of the architects of reggaeton sound and a track like “Besa Tu Cuerpo” is an early example. Playero established himself as a freestyle DJ while producing hip-hop, eventually fusing elements of dancehall, reggae, house, and other styles of music to create the underground perreo genre. While tracks prior to “Besa Tu Cuerpo” leaned towards one genre or the other, this song is proof of what would eventually become the sound that conquers the world. The rhythmic drum pattern on “Besa Tu Cuerpo” is based on the dancehall dembow rhythm. However, the drum sounds owe more than a little to classic rap, while the samples and digital bass are heavy on the electronic side, unlike most music found in the Caribbean – it was clearly an art form. unique. Blanco Flake straddles the music with a mix of Panamanian and Jamaican flow, also indicating a way of delivering vocals that would define the old school of el movimiento.
Baby Shabba – “Champion”
Playero’s genius lies in blending various genres to create something unique – a blend that makes it irresistible for people to stand still while he plays. By fusing reggae, dancehall, hip-hop, house and other styles, he helped establish the sound of reggaeton which, in many ways, continues to be the gold standard. However, a track like “Champion” proves that he wasn’t done experimenting with music. On this sound cut New era mixtape, Playero goes from boom-bap beats to classic dembow rhythm back and forth, creating something that hasn’t been heard before or since, fusing old-school rap with perreo as if they were fighting. Luckily for the producer, he found the perfect emcee to helm the song and make it what it became, as Baby Shabba’s raw, dancehall-inspired delivery gets the message across and slips the two styles into one. singular view.
Tempo – “Donde Están Las Girlas”
While Playero’s musical talents are undeniable, his ability to spawn music that we still recognize today as reggaeton is just one aspect of why he is such a legendary figure. The other most important aspect of his career is his instinct to recognize talent in young people and nurture it to maximize their potential. That’s what he did with Daddy Yankee, helping a towering figure in the movimiento find his way to the top, but he wasn’t the only one. Tempo is one of those legendary first-wave reggaeton artists who still commands the respect of connoisseurs and figures prominently in Playero’s discography. One of the two’s early hits was “Donde Están Las Girlas”, a song built around a snippet of Reel 2 Real’s house pop classic “I Like To Move It” and runs along with it, offering rhymes harsh, a reggae-inspired flow and even some sung parts, pointing to the future of Playero’s oeuvre and the genre as a whole.
Nicky Jam – “Uncontrollable”
As mentioned earlier, one of Playero’s talents that made him a legend behind the set and a historic figure in el movimiento was his ability to discover and nurture talented people behind the mic. One of those personalities was Nicky Jam, who started appearing on Playero’s mixtapes when he was still a teenager. A track like “Descontrol” shows why he’s become one of reggaeton’s most enduring artists since his early years, riding the song’s digital beat to interpolate the melody of “I Just Called To Say I Love You” by Stevie Wonder to crack her up. “Descontrol” also shows how Playero was evolving in his game, delivering songs that took time to develop and flourish with hooks as well as rhymes, which helped reggaeton become a dominant sound in the years. who followed.
For more information on Remezcla House, in which DJ Playero will perform, Click here.