Monday, December 12, 2011

Romeo Santos & Modern Bachata

By Ynes Lantigua

In the Dominican Republic there is a type of music that has become known worldwide over the last couple of years. This music is known as Bachata. It’s a type of song that is very heavy on guitars and full of sentimental lyrics about heartbreaks, infidelity and love. Bachata is very similar to the “blues.”

Bachata originally developed in the Dominican Republic in the 20th century. The original term for Bachata was called “Amargue,” which translates into “blues, bitterness or bitter music.” Bachata was heavily based on Cuban boleros and Puerto Rican “Jibaro music and baladas.” A bachata group is composed of five instruments, which are the lead guitar, rhythm guitar, electric bass guitar, bongos and güira. The rhythm guitar is also known as a “segunda” and serves the purpose of adding syncopation to the music.

 In the 1960s and 70s, maracas were used instead of guira. The change in the 1980s from maracas to the more versatile guira was made as bachata was becoming more dance oriented. The first bachata songs were completed in the late 1960s after dictator Rafael Trujillo was murdered. After Trujillo’s death many more singers felt more freedom and were able to share their Bachata music to the country. One of the best modern bachata singers today is known by his stage name Romeo Santos.

Anthony Santos, better known for his artist name, Romeo Santos, is a Bachata singer from The Bronx who is well known in the Latino community. He recently released his first solo album “Formula Vol. 1” on November 8. His primary goal is to cross over into the English language market. In a recent interview with Jasmine Garsd on NPR’s Weekend Edition about his first solo album, Romeo Santos explained that, “"One day my father brings a cassette. He's showing me this, and he's like, 'Look at this guy, his name is Anthony Santos, like you,' he says. I popped it on and started hearing the songs, the music, and I was like, 'Wow, this sounds great.’” At this point in his life Romeo Santos discovered that he had a passion for music and wanted to learn more about this specific type of music. He went out to buy Anthony “El mayimbe” Santos’ album. He became very passionate about this type of music and later joined his cousin Henry and a few friends and started their band Aventura.

Even though they all grew up in New York, Aventura mostly sings in Spanish. Romeo Santos says, “I was raised bilingual but my strength is in Spanish. Even though I live and I was born and raised in the States, when I'm doing music, it's easier for me and I know exactly how to express myself. I would always talk with my friends in English and Spanglish, but it was more like slang. It was more like, 'Yo, what's up dog?' But in Spanish I know what's proper and what's ghetto. I know the difference." One of the songs that helped Aventura become famous worldwide was “Obsecion.”

After working together for 17 years, Aventura went their separate ways so each of the members can work on solo projects. A very public rumor in Spanish-language media began. “Santos claimed he carried the burden of the workload in Aventura; his band members accused him of letting fame go to his head,” Garsd reported on NPR. Besides Bachata ballads, his new solo album features many English language songs and collaborations with widely known Hip Hop artists like Lil Wayne.

He explains that his producer, Rico Love, agreed with his interest in collaborating with non-Hispanic singers. "It would just be so unique, unexpected and, in my opinion, revolutionary," Santos says. "That's what I felt. My goal is for them to cross over into my world. But I also want to reinvent myself, which is why I do a little bit of R&B, which is why I got Lil Wayne on a song in this album."

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Ynes Lantigua is 20 years old and a junior at St. Thomas Aquinas College. She is a Spanish major with a Journalism minor. She will graduate in the Spring of 2013. She hopes to one day become a medical malpractice lawyer. She still lives at home with her mother and nephew in New York City, downtown Manhattan.

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