“You can’t talk about New York without talking about reggae,” says Gabriel Garzon-Montano, an up-and-coming recording artist with multicultural roots. “It’s a global force in music, and it’s here to stay.”Growing up in Brooklyn in the early aughts, Garzon-Montano says he heard reggaeton everywhere. And as he got older, that influence only spread — both publicly, and personally. But for him, appreciating the genre isn’t just about listening to the music, itself — it’s about understanding its roots. “To understand and respect reggae, we have to go back to its origination — to the Afro-Latina culture that put it on the map and made it a global phenomenon,” he says.
From its Jamaican dance hall beginnings, to its Panamanian influence, to the American censorship and criminalization of the genre, reggae’s history is as multifarious and colorful as the music itself. Which is why we’re partnering with Expedia to explore the ways reggae’s influence has traveled across oceans and cultural borders in this installment of The Beat, It Travels.“At its heart, reggaeton is the soundtrack to fighting oppression,” says Garzon-Montano. “It’s inherently political. It speaks truth to power, whether tackling issues of classism, colorism, systematic racism, or respectability politics.”Catch the video above for a closer look at the rhythmic, global phenomenon that is reggae — and how it came to be.