Various Artists

Reggaeton Hitmakers 2000/2005

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Released in early 2005, just as reggaeton was beginning to make major waves throughout urban America, Reggaeton Hitmakers 2000/2005 is a collection of previously released highlights from the VI Music catalog. There's a wealth of music here: two CDs and one DVD, featuring a grand total of 30 songs and 11 videos. There's also a wealth of reggaeton talent, with most of the style's major artists present: Don Omar, Daddy Yankee, Zion & Lennox, Wisin & Yandel, Tito & Hector, Glory, Tempo, Nicky Jam, Trebol Clan, Ranking Stone, and more. However, because these are back-catalog recordings, they don't include any of the crossover songs that hit in the wake of this collection's release. For instance, there's nothing from Daddy Yankee's Barrio Fino album (i.e., no "Gasolina" or "Lo Que Paso, Paso") and while there are a couple highlights from Don Omar's 2003 album, The Last Don, you won't find "Reggaeton Latino" here. Rather, you get what could be considered "early" reggaeton -- the original style, before it began assimilating itself into the fabric of the greater urban American style. That means the production here can sound a little rough around the edges and relatively lo-fi (none of the shiny, well-crafted production style associated with crossover kings Luny Tunes, for instance), and the subject matter is likewise rougher, not so much interested in girls, partying, and bling-blinging but rather "gangsta" motifs à la hardcore rap (even if you don't understand the Spanish here, you'll understand the relentless gunshot sounds!). The bulk of the music was previously released on VI series like Gargolas and Plagas, which are now quite difficult to obtain stateside. So in addition to serving as an all-star reggaeton compilation, Reggaeton Hitmakers provides another, perhaps more essential service: it rounds up a lot of otherwise hard to find reggaeton from the style's period of genesis, before it was popularized stateside and became widely available to those living north of Puerto Rico. As such, this collection has historical significance, showcasing the origins of the style that would become one of urban America's most fashionable imports in the wake of Daddy Yankee and Don Omar both crossing over in summer 2005.

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