The Ten Best Reggaeton Songs of the Last Half Decade: A Survival Guide in the Age of Pitbull
9. "Tocarte Toa" -- Big Yamo (featuring Natya)
Big Yamo was a bit of a one-hit wonder, but he did more for dramatic nightclub atmospherics with "Tocarte Toa" than most strobe lights/fog machines do in a lifetime.
Violins that echo through marble drug mansions! Girls who rap in ponchos and bikinis! What more could one want from the second generation of reggaeton? Well, now that you mention it, how about a verse from the inimitable Residente (one half of Calle 13; see page four) to smarten things up? Done, and done. There's no dance-party-quality version of the track with Residente's contributions on YouTube, but if you like it well enough without him, the remix is a must. (Added bonus: realizing that objectively awesome people like Residente are also suckers for violins on a reggaeton beat, and thus feeling a little better about your own guilty pleasures.)
8. "Los Maté" -- Tego Calderón
Without Tego Calderón, reggaeton might never have been born, much less have reached North America. He was one of the first to lay late-'80s raps over his native rhythm -- a fateful blend that, whether he likes it or not, took a new genre from the streets to the New York studios. "In Puerto Rico there is a school of hip-hop, of purists that consider me a sellout because I'm commercial and I have success," he told the Voice in 2005. "But I used to be the same way, so I'm not trying to dis them. I used to hate reggaeton too."
He obviously got over that. "Los Maté," released in summer 2006, is as hip-hop as reggaeton will ever get (there's a dis, and a soul sample of sorts), and so ahead of its time: Tego dressed his girls in tutus long before Kanye recruited the freshman class of the Royal Ballet for "Runaway." This is the godfather right here, and he hasn't missed a step since reggaeton fell from its Top 40 pillar. Is there any other rapper in the world whose lisp -- heavily utilized in the S-heavy hook on "Los Maté" -- could make him sound harder? And his gap tooth makes Samuel L. Jackson's look like the negative space in a fine-toothed comb. Bringing us to Tego's (somewhat obscure) duet with newbie Ñejo, whose growl makes Pitbull's sexy voice sound like a kindergartner playing Ken: