If you find yourself at the function with a hookah hose in hand and a drink in the other, it’s very likely the soundtrack to your night includes the latest “Latin” remix of your favorite trap song of the moment, or a rework of your favorite Latin trap track featuring one of mainstream hip-hop’s biggest stars. From “Ahora Me Llama” to “rockstar,” or the choose-your-own-adventure remix(es) of “Krippy Kush,” it might feel like we’ve been here before.
These cross-genre collaborations, which became all the rage in 2017, recall the initial commercial explosion of reggaeton in the mid-2000s. Reggaeton heavyhitters of that era regularly remixed or freestyled the hip-hop singles that dominated the airwaves, and then those remixes made it onto the tracklist of your favorite mixtape series, became your barber’s ringtone, or featured prominently on your middle school shorty’s MySpace page.
And of course, tons of hip-hop giants also hopped on the remixes of chart-topping reggaeton hits (notably, many of the rappers who did collab with reggaeton stars were also Latino, like N.O.R.E., Fabolous, and more). But like the ephemeral nature of NBA patch jeans, AF1 color coordinated fits, and Nextel phones, the early commercial explosion of these crossover collabs didn’t necessarily translate into a permanent shift in the market.
Even before reggaeton’s mid-2000s commercial explosion, the spirit of collaboration between artists of the two genres was strong, going as far back as the late 90s (check this early team-up with Daddy then-Winchester Yankee and Nas from the compilation album Boricua Guerrero First Combat for proof). With a generation of musicians who grew up on these reggaeton and hip-hop crossovers now rising to prominence as Latin trap artists, the influence they had on hybridizing these sounds is clear. What remains to be seen is the continued commercial success of Latino artists in the mainstream U.S. pop market. Since we find this window open once again, let’s revisit some of the more memorable hip-hop and reggaeton crossovers during the movement’s peak in the mid-2000s.
Stream an exclusive Apple Music playlist featuring most of these tracks below.
"Chulin Culin Chunfly" - Voltio ft. Residente & Three 6 Mafia (2006)
Voltio brilliantly plotted this collaboration with Calle 13 and Three 6 Mafia, fresh off the mainstream success from “Atrévete-te-te” and “Stay Fly.” Peep the video to see Juicy J rap along to Residente’s bars, DJ Paul in a Chucky tall tee, Residente dressed as Bruce Lee, and Voltio dressed, well, problematically. We may never see Calle 13 and Three 6 Mafia cross paths again, so please sign my petition to preserve this in a museum.
"Machete Reloaded" - Daddy Yankee ft. Paul Wall (2005)
Daddy Yankee’s street single “Machete” saw a re-release on live album Barrio Fino En Directo. The Luny Tunes-produced track was remixed to include a feature from Houston rapper and go-to-diamond grill crafter Paul Wall following 2004’s Southern hip-hop commercial breakthrough “Still Tippin’” and his own lean-induced parking lot soundtrack single “Sittin’ Sidewayz” in 2005.
"We Fly High" (Reggaeton Remix) - Jim Jones ft. Tego Calderón & Don Omar (2006)
“We Fly High” was remixed and freestyled over more times than all of Dipset put together could count on their hands. But among a collection of remixes that includes a “beef mix” aimed at Jay-Z and a “NY Giants remix,” the Tego Calderón- and Don Omar-assisted reggaeton rework stands out. It’s a subtle dembow rework by reggaeton producer-extraordinaire Nely “El Arma Secreta,” and rightfully equipped with the “boricua, morena, dominicana” chant, a MySpace reference, and a shoutout to Washington Heights.
"Gangsta Zone" - Daddy Yankee ft. Snoop Dogg (2005)
Also featured on Barrio Fino En Directo was “Gangsta Zone,” the single co-produced by Nely “El Arma Secreta” featuring the Doggfather himself. This gritty portrait of barrio life was one of the first reggaeton/hip-hop crossovers not designated to a remix, but instead an original track pushed as a single for Daddy Yankee’s live album.
"Reggaeton Latino" (Chosen Few Remix) - Don Omar ft. Fat Joe, N.O.R.E. & LDA (2005)
A remix originally featured on the Don Omar compilation album Da Hitman Presents Reggaetón Latino, and later on N.O.R.E.’s Y la Familia…Ya Tú Sabe. Produced by industry legend Boy Wonder, “Reggaeton Latino” remains the most bumpin’ meta track of all time: a powerful reggaeton anthem about the diasporic power of perreo across Latin America. Don Omar sings with enough emotion to make a thug cry, N.O.R.E. rightfully talks his shit for bringing reggaeton to mainstream audiences, Fat Joe makes a Primer Impacto reference, and LDA boast that reggaeton is here to stay.
Dale Don Dale (Remix) - Don Omar ft. Fabolous (2005)
Like gifting your god child their first pair of baby Timbs, nothing is more symbolic of a New York blessing than this 2005 remix by Swizz Beatz with a verse from Fabolous. Da Hitman Presents Reggaetón Latino saw a triumphant production rework of “Dale Don Dale” by Swizz Beatz, and a verse from half-Dominican Brooklyn Prince Fab.
"Culo (Remix)" - Pitbull ft. Lil Jon & Ivy Queen (2005)
A moment of silence for all the CD/DVD/T-shirt multi-packs slapped with a sticker listing every single and remix included, which you could never manage to fully scratch off. Pitbull’s aptly titled Money Is Still A Major Issue, a remix/b-side heavy follow-up to 2004’s M.I.A.M.I., featured this remix to breakout single “Culo” with reggaeton reina Ivy Queen.
"Gasolina" (DJ Buddha Remix) - Daddy Yankee ft. Lil Jon, Pitbull & N.O.R.E. (2004)
The Bud Light-sponsored Mr. Worldwide pop persona we know today was once an unknown future star to then Lil Jon mentee Pitbull. On this 2004 DJ Buddha remix, Mr. 305 effortlessly retains the energy of the original “Gasolina,” aided by Lil Jon ad-libs and a fitting N.O.R.E. verse. Featured on the bonus remix CD of Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz’ 2004 album Crunk Juice, an alternate remix is also found on a special edition of Barrio Fino, featuring the same N.O.R.E. verse alongside Gem Star and Big Mato.
"Conteo" - Don Omar ft. Juelz Santana (2006)
The Fast and the Furious film franchise does a good job of recognizing its Latinx audience, sprinkling some of its movies with cameos from Romeo Santos, Tego Calderón, and Don Omar. Plus, the films’ soundtracks often include a hat tip to Latinx moviegoers. The soundtrack to The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift included this Nely “El Arma Secreta” produced track by Don Omar — with a feature from Dipset’s Juelz Santana appearing on Don Omar’s 2006 album King of Kings.
"Rompe" (Remix) - Daddy Yankee ft. Lloyd Banks & Young Buck (2005)
2005 saw the much-anticipated remix to “Rompe” featuring fellow Reebok sneaker-signees and G-Unit members Lloyd Banks and Young Buck. While the G-Unit crew’s ample bars leave much to be desired, an extended cut of the remix also features Nelly Furtado. Yes, you read that right.
Frikitona (Chosen Few Remix) - Plan B ft. Trina, Trick Daddy & LDA (2007)
The lineup for this remix reads like the guest list on an international panel of making freak nasty music. The Boy Wonder production remains distinguished by the signature “it’s not about makin’ a hit, it’s about makin’ a classic” producer drop. Here, he assembles the most fitting group for the hoe-positive anthem we all deserve.
"Más Maíz" - N.O.R.E. ft. Nina Sky, Big Mato, La Negra of LDA, Fat Joe, Lumidee, Chingo Bling & Lil Rob (2006)
“Más Maíz” may never get the same respect as “Oye Mi Canto,” but let’s be clear, this is the pinnacle of mid-2000s reggaeton/hip-hop crossovers: from the green screen video with a wardrobe sponsored by your local Jimmy Jazz and Rainbow, and enough cameos to remix this song three times over, “Más Maíz” masterfully features artists who so seamlessly navigated their Latino identities alongside their respective mainstream appeal. If the song title alone doesn’t open your eyes to the genius of “Más Maíz,” an ode to working-class cornfield farmers and a clever sexual innuendo about hitting the right spot, I’m done tryna help you get your life together.
"Lean Back (Remix)" - Fat Joe ft. Daddy Yankee, Polaco, Tego Calderón, Hector "El Father" & Tempo y Notty (2004)
While old heads still hold on to Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” and transplants front like people actually enjoy the Times Square-tourist soundtrack “Empire State of Mind,” Terror Squad’s “Lean Back” remains New York’s truest anthem since the summer of 2004. The video’s Tego Calderón cameo foresaw an official reggaeton remix, featuring Tego and Tony Touch. But in those mixtape glory days, everybody and their tío had a freestyle or remix over the most readily available instrumentals. This YouTube link hosts an amateur mega mix of the most prominent reggaeton artists of the time to bless the “Lean Back” instrumental, very fittingly noting “es vieja pero BUENA!!” in the video description.
"Oh Yeah" - Tego Calderón ft. Voltio & Snoop Dogg (2004)
If the infamous owl-like DJ drop “whooooooooo kiiiiiiiiiiid” and tastefully placed gunshots didn’t already give it way, this track originally surfaced in 2004 on part 8 of DJ Whoo Kid mixtape series G-Unit Radio, and later that year on DJ Whoo Kid and Tego Calderón’s own Guasa Guasa mixtape — a 12-track project featuring freestyles, remixes, and original songs. “Oh Yeah” includes original production with longtime G-Unit production collaborator Red Spyda.
"We Don’t Love Them Hoes" (Remix) - Tego Calderón ft. Pitbull & The Game (2004)
DJ Whoo Kid and Tego Calderón’s 2004 Guasa Guasa mixtape also featured the Red Spyda-produced “We Don’t Love Them Hoes,” a version with then-recent G-Unit signee and walking Boost Mobile ad The Game rapping a verse in Spanish surfaced on the Compton native’s mixtape/DVD double pack Devil’s Advocate, before a final version appeared on Pitbull’s mixtape series Unleashed Vol. 5.