In just a few years, Chile has gone from being a country with little reggaeton to breaking into the international scene with local urban music artists such as the author Cris MJ, who reached Spotify’s Top 10 worldwide last April with the song “Una night in Medellín”, sharing space with greats like Elton John, Justin Bieber and Dua Lipa.
“Chilean urban music is a very big trend that has a lot of strength. It is characterized by its drums, the instrumental, and by what the artists transmit in their lyrics,” the artist Polimá Westcoast explained to EFE hours before his debut at the International Song Festival of Viña del Mar (Chile).
“I feel that the eyes were positioned on Chile due to the impact of its urban music. There are, for example, my Angolan roots, which come together with what I sing, which is Chilean. It has a lot of strength and that is not going to stop”, he adds the singer, claiming his father’s African origin.
2022 was the golden year for Chilean urban music, at least on the Spotify platform: in 2021, no Chilean artist entered the list of the most listened to musicians in Chile, while last year six of the most listened to musicians were nationals. .
Chilean urban music is barely five years old, but its roots go back years, in the early 2000s, when the sound of reggaeton spread with a group of Haitian immigrants who imported those rhythms, the expert in history of Chilean popular music and professor at the Catholic University, Matías Hermosilla.
Haitian rhythms were heard by a successful television program aimed at adolescents, “Mekano”, and it coincided with the arrival of the Internet and personal computers, which broke the boundaries of musical production, making it accessible with few resources.
The moment that consolidates reggaeton among the Chilean public, Hermosilla remarked, is the performance of Daddy Yankee at the Viña del Mar Festival, in 2006, with a successful stage design that captivated the spectators.
The current artists of Chilean urban music trained at home, self-producing their songs and creating a new musical movement.
“They all start to be friends, they start to get to know each other and work together, they throw parties that few people go to at first, they themselves cut the tickets, go out to sell, and play their songs that still haven’t started to catch on,” Hermosilla recalled.
Local urban music artists, who made their leap in Chile in 2018, made space by helping each other: when someone succeeds, they collaborate with others who are just starting out, generating support networks and building cohesive alliances.
“The vast majority of us have known each other since before making music. We have a very strong relationship, of ties that were generated as a brotherhood. Collaborating is something normal between us,” Polimá remarked.
“Here there is a great alliance, between artists there is no envy. We support each other, because we understand that we are a small country and that we are alone against the world,” he added.
The impact of Chilean urban music on the international scene was reflected in this year’s Viña del Mar Festival, which is being held this week and where local reggaeton was present for the first time, with Paloma Mami and Polimá, as well as with a collaboration of Cris MJ with the Colombian Karol G, who opened the contest.
The footprint of Chilean reggaeton is consolidated worldwide, normalizing local vulgarisms such as “pololos” (boyfriends), “flaite” (macarra) or “concha tu madre” (Chilean insult), as happened years ago with Colombian reggaeton, claiming the jargon of “popular” origin that many artists have, raised in neighborhoods on the periphery.
The figures show that urban music in Chile is consolidating on a global scale, which, for Polimá, is a phenomenon that is here to stay.
“Many artists, women, men, producers or designers will be born who in the process will form and become superstars. Chilean music will consolidate in the world -he concluded-, and there will be great milestones”.
by Iñaki Martinez Azpiroz with photos by Adriana Thomasa / EFE