The Reggaetony Album

Artist: Tony TouchTitle: The Reggaetony AlbumRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Max Herman

When Tony Touch’s latest, The Reggaetony Album (EMI International), dropped this past summer, reggaeton had already made its way onto American pop radio and video rotation. With a few key hits—namely NORE’s undeniably catchy “Oye Mi Canto” and Daddy Yankee’s “Gasolina”—this danceable blend of reggae, Hip-Hop and traditional Latin music quickly spread to the mainstream. But long before reggaeton became a hot commodity stateside, Hip-Hop renaissance man (DJ/producer/MC) Tony Touch, a.k.a. Tony Toca, was helping to spread the word. And with Reggaetony, this Nuyorican dissects the roots of the music on this multi-dimensional bilingual release.

What makes this album a distinct work is that it doesn’t always consist of the typical radio-ready reggaeton material that American listeners may be accustomed to. Aside from the club-friendly single, “Play That Song,” featuring Nina Sky and B-Real, much of the material here isn’t what you’d expect to hear on the dance floor. On “Gangsta Gangsta,” Tony summons Boricua superstar Tego Calderon to kick some cool, calm and collected raps over DJ Premier’s choppy production. Then on “Sofrito Mama,” the Beatnuts are sure to surprise listeners by rapping almost entirely in Spanish over some traditional (not so reggaeton) Latin rhythms. Track after track, Tony keeps the listener guessing what’s to come.

The few instances that Tony takes the straightforward reggaeton route, he does assemble some of the more recognized artists of the movement to do their thing. “Saca La Semilla,” with the thunderously voiced Ivy Queen, for one, is bound to satisfy reggaeton fans with its drum-centric beat. Aside from a few miss-matched collaborations (e.g. club king Pitbull and true schooler Q-Unique on “Back Up”), most of the acts sound right at home.

Anyone who just jumped on the reggaeton bandwagon this year may not enjoy Reggaetony in its entirety. Instead of dropping predictable club joint after club joint for the masses, Tony makes sure to please fans of both Latin and Hip-Hop music with this cross-cultural collection of rhythm.