El Skiz banks on 'Friends'Wednesday, June 09, 2021
SINGER Jorge “El Skiz” Torres is one of the leading voices of Spanish reggae in Panama. He believes Jamaican dancehall and reggae music remain powerful art forms in the Spanish-speaking country.
“To me, the Panamanian reggae scene has always been in the mix but [has] not [been] given the attention as others, maybe because of the language barrier or maybe even the fact that a lot of the audience mix it up with reggaeton. Yes, some Panamanian artistes sing reggaeton and some do strictly Spanish reggae, as we are known for creating, but me personally — I do it all. I am a lot versatile and try to get in where I feel I can fit. Right now in Panama, the leading exponents on the mainstream is such as El Bona, to me. I'm next,” he told the Jamaica Observer.
In the early to mid-1980s Panamanians like Renato, El General, Nando Boom, El Maleante, and Chicho Man started to adapt Jamaican dancehall songs and beats, singing over them with Spanish lyrics and most of the time preserving the melodies and the rhythms.
“What those artistes were really singing till this day is called Spanish reggae, aka reggae en Espanol. Reggaeton is really something that was created off the Spanish reggae, created by those names mentioned. Puerto Ricans took it, made it their way, named it reggaeton and had the opportunity and support in a bigger way than the Panamanians did and made it what it is today. But, of course, the history and who knows it know it all started in Jamaica then Panama,” he said.
Reggaeton has become a global force. Latin music hit the mainstream in 2017 when Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yanke teamed up to release Despacito. The song became the most-streamed song and YouTube's most-watched video, and the track spent a record-breaking 16 consecutive weeks at number one.
Revenues from the Latin sector of the US music industry have been rapidly growing, from $176 million in 2016 to $243 million in 2017, culminating in an incredible $413 million in 2018. Between 2016 and 2017 Spanish-language entries on the Billboard Hot 100 rose from four to 19. In 2018 the consumption of Latin albums outpaced that of both EDM and country music in the US — that year, Latin music made up 9.4 per cent of all album listening, while country came in at 8.7 per cent.
El Skiz is seeking similar success with Friends, featuring El Tiex, which is being distributed by VPAL Music.
“The single is a party song that speaks to friendship. It is being accepted in ways I never expected and in countries I never thought, but I thank God overall, my team and my fans that they are liking the single and also showing a lot of love,” he said.
The single was released by Hype Productions and their house producer, Kevin On The Beat, one month ago. A video was also released at the same time for the project.
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