Daddy Yankee’s worldwide hit «Gasolina» is the first reggaeton song to be included on the National Recording Registry at the Library of Congress.
The song is among 25 recordings and albums selected Wednesday for preservation at the nation’s audio history library.
«Gasolina» not only catapulted the Puerto Rican rapper to commercial success in 2004, but also ushered in the globalization of reggaeton, a genre of Latin urban music once considered underground.
Puerto Rico is often considered the birthplace of reggaeton, but its roots go back to the 1980s in Panama, where Afro-Panamanians began translating Jamaican dancehall songs into Spanish and making reggae songs in Spanish. At the same time, Puerto Rico’s Spanish-language hip-hop scene was picking up steam.
The first reggaeton tracks finally emerged in the early 1990s, when the genre was known as «underground». It later became known as reggaeton after artists began infusing the distinctive dem bow rhythms that characterize the genre today.
«Gasolina» was released as the lead single from Yankee’s third studio album, «Barrio Fino». It marked the first time that a reggaeton album debuted at number 1 on the Billboard Top Latin Albums chart.
Yankee, born Ramón Luis Ayala Rodríguez, won a Latin Grammy in 2005 for his album “Barrio Finoafter the Latin Recording Academy changed the name of the category from best rap or hip-hop album to best urban music album, indicating the growing popularity of the genre.
«Gasolina» was also the first reggaeton song to be nominated for a Latin Grammy for Record of the Year that same year.
The achievements signaled to the Latin music industry, which had long focused only on pop, rock en español and regional Mexican music, that reggaetón had a place in the mainstream music scene.
Since then, Yankee has been revered as one of the leading pioneers who popularized the once-underground genre, making it one of the most recognizable and profitable sounds in the music industry.
Following his 32-year music career, Yankee wrapped up his farewell tour in December after announcing his retirement.
“This race has been a marathon,” Yankee, 46, told fans during your advertisement last year. «It was you who gave me the keys to open up this genre and make it the biggest in the world.»
‘Flashdance,’ Christmas song and mariachi history preserved
In addition to «Gasolina,» other Latino songs included in the National Recording Registry include Irene Cara’s «Flashdance…What a Feeling»; “All I Want for Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey, of Afro-Venezuelan descent; and “The First Mariachi Recordings” by the Coculense Quartet.
In 1983, Cara became the voice of a generation with «Flashdance… What a Feeling,» the theme song from the movie «Flashdance.» The song by the performer of black, Cuban and Puerto Rican descent has endured through the decades as an anthem of empowerment.
“Flashdance… What A Feeling” won Best Original Song at the 1984 academy awards. Cara, 63, died in November.
Yankee and Cara’s hits were among dozens of songs by Latino artists nominated for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus in November for inclusion in the registry of their «significant creative and cultural impact.”
Of the 625 titles that have been included in the National Recording Registry since 2002, only 26 are by Latino artists, according to the Library of Congress.
The Christmas smash hit «All I Want for Christmas Is You» is by Carey first song to make the National Recording Registry.
A modest hit upon its release in 1994, the song has grown over time to reach No. 1 on the pop charts for the past four years.
“I am very proud of the arrangements, the background vocal arrangements,” Carey, 54, said in a statement. «‘All I Want for Christmas’ is in its own little category, and I’m very grateful for that.»
Some of the earliest recordings of mariachi music by the Coculense Quartet are preserved on record along with today’s greatest hits.
The four musicians from the Mexican state of Jalisco recorded the album in Mexico City between 1908 and 1909. Scholars and sound archivists later reissued the album, “The Very First Mariachi Recordings” in 1998 to revive a chapter in the history of the mariachi band that would otherwise have been lost.
“The National Recording Registry preserves our history through recorded sound and reflects our nation’s diverse culture,” Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden said in a statement. «The National Library is proud to help ensure that these recordings are preserved for generations to come.»
Each year, the registry selects 25 recordings worthy of preservation.