If you hear the word “Gasolina” chances are the hit song by Daddy Yankee immediately pops in your head and there was no avoiding it in 2004 when the song was released. Since then It’s been considered one of the best reggaeton songs of all time by everyone from Rolling Stone to Billboard and made history as the first reggaeton song ever to be nominated for the Latin Grammy Award for Record of the Year. This year, it made history again when the Library of Congress announced that the song from “The King of Reggaeton” was chosen for preservation in the National Recording Registry, making it the first reggaeton song to receive the honor. Each year, 25 tracks are included and of the 625 songs that have been preserved since 2002, only 26 have been by Latinx musicians like Ricky Martin and Linda Ronstadt. This makes Yankee’s accomplishment incredibly significant on a national level, not to mention his impact on the reggaeton genre on the world stage.
“For that kid who grew up in Santurce, a song ‘Gasolina’ that was born in a Puerto Rico neighborhood, and is recognized by the “Library of Congress” as one of the songs that transformed culture, changed musical history in the world and the US, is something I never dreamed of,” Yankee, a.k.a. Ramón Luis Ayala Rodríguez, said in an Instagram post sharing the news. “And the most beautiful thing was that it was in Spanish. When you do things with love, passion, determination, and discipline, and to all that you add the support of all my beautiful people for more than three decades, everything you dream of can be possible.”
Reggaeton, as we know it today, originated in 1980s Panama thanks to the Afro-Panamanian community that brought Jamaican songs to the general Spanish-speaking population through translation—hence, reggaeton. It later traveled to Puerto Rico and was popularized among the island’s underground hip-hop scene, paving the way for pioneers like Daddy Yankee, who is credited with coining the term “reggaeton”, to catapult it and himself into the mainstream. When he released “Gasolina,” he became a part of the international music scene in a new way and received many historic accolades. In 2005, his album Barrio Fino, which featured “Gasolina” as the lead track, won a Latin Grammy, became one of the best-selling albums of the 2000s, and reached No.1 on the Billboard Top Latin Albums chart. This was the first time a reggaeton album had achieved the feat. He’s released many hit songs since then but in 2017, he again received international attention for his rap feature on Puerto Rican artist Luis Fonsi’s hit, “Despacito.”
This year’s selections by the National Recording Registry also included several other iconic Latinx tracks including the Academy Award-winning song “Flashdance…What a Feeling” by Irene Cara, who was of Black, Cuban and Puerto Rican heritage and passed away last year. The classic Christmas hit “All I Want for Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey, who is of Afro-Venezuelan descent, was also chosen, and “The Very First Mariachi Recordings” by the Jalisco-based band Cuarteto Coculense. The album was recorded in Mexico City from 1908 to 1909, preserving an important piece of mariachi history.
“The National Recording Registry preserves our history through recorded sound and reflects our nation’s diverse culture,” said Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden in a public statement. “The national library is proud to help ensure these recordings are preserved for generations to come.”
Yankee released his latest, and final, album Legendaddy last March, which featured special guests like Bad Bunny and received several Latin Grammy and Grammy nominations. He also recently announced his retirement from music in December, bringing his 32-year career in the industry to a strong but bittersweet end with this new accomplishment under his belt. While he might not be making more music, we’re excited to see his legacy live on.