The Impossible Confederation Of Metalheads And Reggaetoneros

26 July 2023 | 2:57 pm | Amariah Cook
Originally Appeared In

Future Static vocalist Amariah Cook has written an op-ed for Kill Your Stereo about two music genres close to her heart and upbringing.

Future Static

Future Static (Credit: Beth Morrison)

It is no secret that for at least three decades, those who we refer to as 'metalheads' enjoy the thunderous pounding of fast drums and dissonant, driven and distorted guitars, paired with a mix of soaring, powerful melodies and, to most, unintelligible naturally-distorted vocals.

If you'd never heard it before, you'd already know from that description how vastly opposing it is to one of the most popular musical genres of Latin America: Reggaeton. Additionally, not only do they seem to contrast in sound, but also thematically via lyrical content. Or so it seems…

From the ages of 7 to 18 years old, I grew up in Barcelona. T'was the home of many a Latino/a, especially in 'L'Hospitalet del Llobregat', where I lived for at least half those years. I found myself really adapting to some of their cultural tendencies, especially musically.

I first became encompassed by the physically stimulating music called 'Reggaeton' thanks to my first best friend, who was Colombian. Her mum danced around in the kitchen, moving her body like I had never seen before to the energetic, emotive and tenacious rhythms of Daddy Yankee, Prince Royce and Wisin y Yandel.

I really started to fall in love with a lot of the songs that created the unintentional soundtrack to my life around those early teen years, regardless of being brought up by classical musicians that also listened to artists like Def Leppard, Pink Floyd, Queen and Prince. When I was 14, I was given a brand new Epiphone SG, paired with a Fender Mustang III amp. No doubt that, long story short, this was the beginning of my spiral into the heavier and darker depths of riffs coated in pure distortion and teenage angst.

I always switched between many genres and loved them all equally, depending on the people I wanted to connect with at the time. This is what music always was and, I feel, always will be to me: a bonding agent for the complex chemicals that compose everyone's personalities.

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However, I have faced a significant problem countless times in different situations: Metalheads and Reggaetoneros are mortal enemies. I always found myself asking whether music taste has anything to do with this consistent rejection or whether it is due to an unmistakable contrast in personality types, inhibiting the birth of an interpersonal connection, and the repulsion to that particular genre was caused by the extreme disparities in culture and personal perspective.

Many Metalheads will argue that Reggaeton, as a generalisation, focuses its lyrical and visual themes around degrading women, which no one can argue with. However, what I'd like to make apparent, is that, for many years, popular rock and metal songs have also used similar subjects within their creative content.

Rock and metal have also been referred to as 'sexist' due to a severe lack of women accepted as equals within the industry, as musicians or in any other capacity. This feels quite hypocritical, seeing as the early birth of rock was induced by Sister Rosetta Tharpe.

I believe we can all agree this has been a recurring issue in any musical genre, although in different aspects. I find many songs that fall under Reggaeton have been written under a romantic influence and can portray a love for a life full of fun and, most importantly, dancing.

On the other side, a common misconception is that metal is full of hate speech and unproductive anger: it's just a bunch of angry people making unbearable noises, some may say. Although it does take some acclimatising, most metal is incredibly dynamic and treads deeper into the human psyche and emotional range than many may perceive.

The raw energy and power blended with the absurd amount of technique and mastery of one's instrument to play a large portion of the music written under the subgenres of metal expect a level of appreciation that is similar to that in which a physicist views the scribbled formulas on how gravity works inside of the singularity of a black hole.

Although, a lot of it can be just noise, and sometimes that's exactly what we're enamoured by: the pure chaos of it can be incredibly therapeutic for many.

I have personally always struggled to unite these two very opposing worlds and the people in it for many reasons other than the ones aforementioned. Even after releasing our cover of GASOLINA as a last little attempt to blend the two genres, it almost seems impossible.

It sincerely breaks my heart that genres full of music, good, bad and everything in between, are shunned by a seemingly opposing social group without hesitation or reflection simply because the sociocultural differences seem too contrary to fathom.

Take a walk outside your comfort zone, and if you sincerely don't like the sound of those other worlds, you are entitled to an opinion. However, I must insist: don't $h!t all over someone else's commodities just because you don't understand them.

Future Static’s cover of Daddy Yankee’s Gasolina is out now. You can check it out below.