Herstory 9: Reggaeton, Royalties, and Jenny la Sexy Voz
Reggaeton is a mix of hip hop, dancehall, and salsa. It originates from the streets of Puerto Rico and Colombia but has become a global force over the last decade. Fast forward to 2018 and we're seeing more reggaeton and latin-influenced music on the pop charts.
Spotify has the numbers to show for it too, just look at the growth of reggaeton listeners from 2014-2017.
Reggaeton's Relationship with Gender
Reggaeton, like many genres, have woven sexual innuendos into their lyrics. Most reggaeton artists are men but they'll call on female vocalists for strategically placed moans and interjections. There are many ground-breaking reggaeton solo artists who identify as womxn, but this herstory feature is actually about the womxn behind the "ay papi" and "dame mas gasolina" hooks. They are often role-playing as side-chicks and love interests but, by doing so, they've made their own mark on the genre too.
Jenny la Sexy Voz is the voice behind approximately 80 reggaeton hits - without her (and vocalists like Glory who came before), reggaeton's iconic sound would be something completely different.
Meet Jenny La Sexy Voz
In an 2016 interview with Remezcla, Jenny sheds light on her story. Glory was singing hooks before Jenny - Glory's most recognizable feature is probably Daddy Yankee's Gasolina. She's the voice behind the "dale más gasolina!" bit you sing-along to at the club.
In 2005, Glory went solo and Jenny la Sexy Voz came to the rescue of many reggaetoneros. Jenny became a sought-after vocalist during reggaeton's early 2000's commercial explosion. Unfortunately, those collaborations didn't lead to the "feat. Jenny la Sexy Voz" credit so she wasn't benefiting from royalties. It also meant that listeners didn't realize who that familiar voice was. She shaped a whole genre and few reggaeton fans are aware.
Since then, she's started capitalizing off reggaeton's second wave of popularity. Now, she's releasing her own music and tapping into the years and experience and networks she's built for herself. Below is a song from her first solo project.
Reggaeton's relationship with gender is complicated on-stage and in the recording studio. As the genre continues to gain mainstream airplay, crediting oversights like Jenny's will have bigger impacts. Her story could happen (and has happened) in other genres, but it's especially interesting as reggaeton takes its well-deserved place as a global genre. Next time you hear an "ay papi" or a carefully placed moan on a reggaeton throwback, there's a good chance that it's Jenny La Sexy Voz.
Thanks for reading! This blog series is brought to you by Solidarity in Sound, an educational platform for unlearning music misogyny.
For our Herstory Lessons blog series—we're retelling the stories of womxn in music that have been misheard, mislabeled, or erased completely from our history books.
If information looks incorrect, please let us know! When we're retelling stories that are left out of our history books, finding info can get tricky. We want to make sure we're portraying these stories as accurately as possible!