I remember being in San Juan, Puerto Rico in the summer of 2000, the island was buzzing with the sounds of this new music called "reggaeton." It was pretty much inescapable. Every other car was blasting underground mixed tapes with the more "refined" sectors of society condemning it for its alleged moral indecency and humble roots in the housing projects surrounding the old capital. This, of course, made me seek it out, and I enjoyed the scene's raw primal vibe, reminiscent of early '80s hip-hop. Flash forward more than a decade later and reggaeton is a platinum selling success story worldwide.
A couple of guys from local NYC band Brain Slug wrote to me shortly after reading my "The Hispanic Impact on the Early New York Hardcore Scene" article and they mentioned a side project they'd just done; a blend of reggaeton rhythms and hardcore sung entirely in Spanish.
I honestly expected an unholy mix of Atari Teenage Riot with Daddy Yankee over computerized beats. Luckily, this was not the case. The Cachimbazo five-song demo tape they sent me features raw and powerful tunes with serious yet hopeful politically-minded lyrics. The songs ingeniously feature the patented "Dem Bow" rhythm pattern that reggaeton is based on, but played by a real drummer, not a computer. The vicious hardcore-styled vocals are sung in Spanish and are on par with anything Los Crudos, or some of the classic South American bands from the '80s, ever produced.
Cachimbazo can be roughly translated as a "strong blow," an apropos name for a hard hitting sound that references two sides of the same cultural coin. You don't have to be a connoisseur of island rhythms to appreciate this fresh blend of seemingly disparate musical genres, as recorded by a two-man project band. I hope they continue to flesh out their sound and expand into a full band. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out in a live setting.