Panama opened its doors to immigrant workers from all over the Caribbean during the construction of the Panama Canal. Immigrants brought not only their dreams, but also their culture, customs, food—and, perhaps most notably, their music.
When a new, refreshing sound was born in Jamaica in the late 1960s, it quickly began to make its mark in Britain, the U.S., and Africa. It was only a matter of time before reggae artists like Bob Marley and the Wailers, Jimmy Cliff, and Toots and the Maytals would have the rest of the world feel the impact of the classic sound. The 1970s and early 1980s then saw a transition from dub to dancehall—a faster rhythm with drum machines replacing the acoustics heard in traditional reggae. Considered the creation of Henry “Junjo” Lawes, dancehall is characterized by a deejay (or hype man) that hyped the crowd, singing and rapping over the tracks.
With the migration of many Jamaicans to the small country of Panama, reggae began to emerge as one of its most popular genres. DJs who were hired to hype up parties in patois soon understood that if it was done in Spanish, more people would react to it—and the rest is history.
Panama’s music scene is still filled with talent.
For many folks across Latin America, El General was their first taste of Latin urbano music with songs like “Te Ves buena,” “Muévelo,” and “Rica y Apretadita,” amongst many others. But El General was only one of many artists who paved the way; due to visas, visibility, and lack of financial support, many other artists like Renato, Nando Boom, Chicho Man, Gringo El Original, El Maleante, Super Nandi, Coco Man, Pepito Casanova, Reggae Sam, Rasta Nini, Michael Phillis, and El Profeta Oscar weren’t able to make the transition from local to international stardom.
Today, Panama’s music scene is still filled with talent in need of exposure, resources and investors. The country that nurtured the origins of el movimiento deserves a bigger platform. We cannot allow the story to repeat itself. As an emerging artist, it’s my honor to highlight some of the best producers—established and on the rise—coming out of Panama.
Jorge Valdez Vazquez, better known as Dimelo Flow, is a producer for Rich Music who peaked at #2 on Billboard Latin “Top Producer” chart, and has been instrumental in taking Sech— Panama’s biggest artist currently—to stardom. He has also worked with Daddy Yankee, Bad Bunny, Farruko, Anitta, and many more of the industry’s biggest names.
Behind Boza, one of the most exciting Panamanian artists on-the-rise, is producer Irving Quintero, better known as Faster. Faster started gaining momentum while working with Panama Music, producing for the group La Factoria, Eddy Lover, Makano, and others. These days, Faster is fully focused on taking Boza’s talent to the next level.
Manuel Enrique Cortés Cleghorn, better known as Rike Music, was born in Panama City. The Rich Music producer has worked with international talents such as Maluma, Ozuna, Feid, Dalex, Nicky Jam, Manuel Turizo, Sech, Greeicy, Mike Bahía, and exciting new talents such as Young Luigui.
Johnny López is more BK Musica. He got his first hits in Panama with his work on Johnny D’s “Ella Baila Sola,” and Bossy Lion’s “Quitatelo To.” Fast forward ten years and now, he’s producing for some of the biggest names in the industry; BK worked on one of the biggest records this year, Daddy Yankee’s “Problema.”
Jonathan Tovar is already a Grammy award winner. He’s produced for artists such as Sech, Zion & Lennox, JoeyMontana, Anuel, Karol G, Farina, Farruko, JQuiles, AlexZurdo and others. Don’t sleep on him.
The Carbon Fiber Producer, born Keriel Quiroz, is the producer behind many of Farruko’s latest hits including “No Hago Coro,” “Oh Mama,” “Love 66,” and “La Toxica,” which features Myke Towers, Jhay Wheeler, Tempo and Sech on its remix. K4G also produced “Sensei,” the Panamanian star-filled track which features Boza, Akim and Chamaco.
In 2015, Capo the Pueblo Nuevo producer started working with national and international acts like Sech, De La Ghetto, Nino Augustine, Lalo Ebratt, Kenny Man, Yera, Real Phantom, Eshconinco, and Italian Somali among others.
“Collaboration between artists who are representing Panamanian urban music is really important. Not only will that build more of a following/fanbase,” he tells Remezcla in Spanish, “It will also make it clear that we can be united.”
In his latest single “El Cartel Riddim” he gathers some of Panama’s established and rising talents such as El Boy C, Nizze, RD Maravilla, Jorkan, Real Phantom, and Celdryk.
Kevin Jay Da Silva Cortes, better known as Da Silva “Diselo a la Gyal,” was born in Panama City and raised in Pueblo Nuevo. He has worked with artists such as Sech, BCA, De La Ghetto, Eshconinco, Anthony B, Kafu Banton, Real Phantom, Japanese, Los Rabanes, I-Nesta, Mr. Fox and others. He is the producer behind the mega hit “Ni Gucci Ni Prada” by Kenny Man, “Dile” by Baby Wally, “Drop It” by Eschnoninco and many more.
Today alongside CAPO, he works under their company Jvm Records where they continue to work with local and international artists.
“I had the opportunity to make one of my best works at my studio in Panama,” Da Silva tells Remezcla in spanish. “Ni Gucci Ni Prada—something so simple, passionate and organic—successfully made its way around the world and that opened my mind to the fact that everything we do with determination and love has positive results in life.
The Afro Jam
Erwin Samuel Olivero, better known as Afro Jam, started making a name for himself in the music scene in 2015 by working out of his own Bunker Jam Studios. His versatile style has taken him to work with Robinho, El Boza, Rastaloyd , Wiz nazzi, Iakopo, Original fat, Kafu Banton, Yemil , El Tachi, Nino Augustine, Japanese, Luis Lugo, I nesta, Kenny man, Mr fox, and Los Rakas.
El Codigo Kirkao
Kirk Klypps Romaña Salinas is known as El Codigo Kirkao. The Juan Dias producer is behind one of Panama’s hottest artists, Chamaco. Together, they have the streets of Panama on fire.
Alexander Ramón Anthiney Ferrer, better known as Alyko, began his career as a producer and songwriter in 2008 at 18 years old. Born to a Panamanian father and Cuban mother, he studied audio engineering in Panama’s music academy and was inspired by national and international producers like Predikador, Mista Bombo, Timbaland, Ryan Leslie and Jermaine Dupre. He likes to blend styles such as R&B, hip-hop, pop, reggaetón and dancehall. He has worked with national artists like Joshua Harmony, Almirante, Makano, Leo, Khai, Mole, Phantom, Yohan, Kenny Man, DavidL y Marigaby and more.
“Don’t limit yourself to being creative; connecting and expressing yourself through music will make you unique,” Alyko tells us.