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Thursday, December 4, 2008

Muévelo con El General (RCA International, 1991)

August 1991. A friend of mine tells me that a Rock radio has been playing for the last few days something he has never heard before. A very simple dance beat, sung (if you can call that singing) by a guy that calls himself the General. The first time I hear him was on his song "Tu Pum Pum" ("your butt.") Edgardo Franco is a guy from Panama who sings about dancing, babes and booty but also has the time to praise former dictator Noriega in "Te Ves Bien Buena" ("you look pretty good") and make a political statement: The U.S. Invasion of Panama in 1989 might have accidentally created Reggaeton. He did in 91 what Ruben Blades, his fellow Panamanian, did with latin music in 1977 with the Siembra album: create a new craze, a novelty, and in that way expand the musical horizons.

Reggaeton and its dance are what people want. Sorry. Like it or not, they came to stay and El General was fully responsible to put this genre at the top. A concotion of rap and dance-hall reggae that had in El General its best and rawest representative. Influenced heavily by Yellowman and Shabba Ranks.

"Tu Pum Pum" and "Buduf Kun Kun" are great, catchy songs that recall the rhythm creation of artists like Bo Diddley. El General could easily be considered like a modern Bo and he has all rights for that title. Take for instance, "Buduf:"

"Buduf Kun Kun"

He kept busy during the nineties but he retired (like any good General) to pursue social work and use his music and talent to improve poor people's lives in Panama. Good luck to him. If he succeeds on this the same way he did with Muevelo, Panamá will be a better place to live.