It goes without saying that Puerto Ricans are a passionate bunch, so the line “There’s danger and love in the air” holds true. It’s the best of both worlds! And I’m pretty sure you don’t have to be from the beloved island to recognize this jam’s chorus.
Let’s be real here: Puerto Rico owns reggaeton, and Daddy Yankee is one of the genre’s most popular acts. This particular song, with the help of will.i.am, celebrates a young man’s San Juan: attractive women and endless partying.
“Lamento Borincano” was originally written by composer Rafael Hernández Marín in 1929, describing the harsh conditions impoverished farmers had to face on a daily basis. It was later popularized (at least, on a global scale) by Marc Anthony, one the island’s most famous celebrities. While the topic of the song may be melancholic, it ends with the powerful “Yo te adoro, Puerto Rico, y eso nadie lo va a quitar,” which roughly translates to, “I adore you, Puerto Rico, and no one can take that away.”
Puerto Rico isn’t known for its indie and garage rock acts, Davila 666 being the very real exception. This particular track, “Tu,” celebrates youth in a way only a Puerto Rican band could address.
Mr. Simon wasn’t actually born in Puerto Rico, but he’s no stranger to the magic of the island and its people…because it truly is inescapable!
Excluding acts like the Monkees, if you grew up in a Puerto Rican household you probably thought Menudo were the first great boy band (I know I did!). This is where the great Ricky Martin got his start, and the adorable quintet (sometimes sextet? — those boys changed lineups like real rock ‘n’ roll stars) released about a billion albums spanning many generations. “En San Juan Me Enamore” is just one example of their brilliance.
Taking their name from the indigenous peoples of Puerto Rico, “Yo Soy Boricua,” couldn’t be more of an anthem for people proud of their heritage. Plus Bruno Mars covered it once because his dad is also Puerto Rican!
While this particular Jennifer Lopez track is nearly impossible to find online, the beloved Puerto Rican celebrity couldn’t be more proud of where she came from, belting out the passionately repetitive chorus of “Soy de Puerto Rico / Isla del Encanto,” translating to, “I am from Puerto Rico / Island of Enchantment.”
Big Punisher (Big Pun for short) is one of Puerto Rico’s most beloved rappers (part of a generation of Nuyorican musicians and artists) and perhaps one of the most openly supportive of his culture. This particular single was from his second record, Yeeeah Baby, which quickly went platinum, sharing with the world the beauty of the island and its people.
Lusi Fonsi never directly names Puerto Rico in this song, but it’s hard to imagine the last line in the chorus, “Voy persiguiendo el paraíso” (in English, “I will pursue the paradise”), referring to anywhere else, because let’s face it: There is nowhere better.
The slowed acoustic number “San Juan” celebrates the love the island’s capital has been able to foster in couples for hundreds of years. Lanois sings, “Meet me in San Juan, baby I’ll be true / Whisper sweet everything to you.” Swoon.
Ricky Martin will forever be adored in Puerto Rico, and celebrated by the rest of the world as one of the biggest names to come from the island. The admiration goes both ways. This particular song, “Raza De Mil Colores,” celebrates the diversity of Puerto Rican people: “Somos leña de un mismo fuego / Y la voz de un mismo cantar / Ay bendito de mis raíces que orgulloso puedo estar / Ay bendito de mi raza que orgulloso puedo estar,” an ode to the beauty of different skin colors and a celebration of one race: humanity.
Frankie Ruiz is one of Puerto Rico’s most famous salsa singers, this song his ode to his home. At one point he even declares, “Puertorriqueño hasta la muerte,” “Puerto Rican until death.” I couldn’t agree more.
Here’s a playlist on Rdio.
And here it is on Spotify.
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