The Roots of Latin and Caribbean Music Caribbean music can be thought of as a rich and spicy stew where everything comes together and flavors everything else. At the root is the rhythms and traditions of Africa. Slaves brought to Caribbean islands preserved their culture in the only way they could: through remembered music, dance, and ceremony. In island countries like Cuba, Haiti, Jamaica, and others, this music was augmented by folk from Spain, classical music from France, and the forgotten yet still evident influence of the lost native cultures of the Taino and others. Caribbean and Latin music has an outsized influence all over the world. In 2017, the Latin song “Despacito” spent more weeks on Billboard magazine’s Hot 100 chart than any other song, in any language. More and more Latin hits cross over into the mainstream every year. This is, on some level, only fair—the elements and influences of Latin and Caribbean music come from all over the world. On another level, the growing popularity of Caribbean and Latin music can be seen as a triumph of dislocated, enslaved, and oppressed populations. The peoples of the Caribbean islands absorbed many influences and created an important genre of music all their own.


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