Nino Augustine is bringing the Panameño flow with “Miéntete”

Leonel Manzanares de la Rosa goes in on the new single from the Panama-born artist.
By    February 18, 2020

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Leonel Manzanares de la Rosa will be trying out to be an XFL Defensive Tackle next season.

There are two histories when it comes to discussing the origins of reggaetón, the Latin urban genre that has recently become a true global commercial superpower; there’s the official History, which dictates that the genre was created in Puerto Rico and in the Boricua community in New York City, where parties and mix tapes by DJ Playero and DJ Nelson were shaping the style, with influences of hip-hop, reggae and dancehall. This was the scene where Daddy Yankee, Ivy Queen and Nicky Jam were giving their first steps into super stardom.

But there’s the other, earlier History, which has its origins in Panama in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, where artists like Renato, Gaby, Nando Boom and El General (by far the most popular Panamanian musician in Latin America at the time) gave birth to something called reggae en español (reggae in Spanish), a combination of Jamaican dancehall, old reggae melodicism, soca, punta, and other Caribbean sounds.

This later morphed into the ciento diez — a faster, raunchier version, a sort of proto-moombahton — popularized by production giant El Chombo, and romantic style — a slower, more love-song-centric approach. So, in reality, it was Panama that truly invented reggaetón and created música urbana latina as a whole, and its influences and vibes can still be felt in today’s Latin music. 

Nino Augustine, a promising newcomer, born in Panama but currently living in the United States, comes from this rich musical language, and for his new single “Miéntete”, he brings back the idiosyncratic Panameño flow, complete with romantic-style lyrics and a sharp sense of hook-building, and implements them in his unique combination of reggaetón, trap, and even afrobeats.

But there is also a more subtle element that comes off as the track’s most pleasant surprise: the percussions. There’s an undeniable modern urban feel to them, but you can hear some very interesting rhythmic patterns that are unmistakably reminiscent of afrobeats and African pop, but also there’s a sense of double metric — 3/4 cadences that sometimes interplay with the general 4/4 — that seriously recall styles like the Honduran punta and the Belizean form of soca. In the lyrical department, we get introduced to Nino romántico — a sort of departure from Augustine’s previous party-oriented jams — as he talks of a relationship that is put in doubt by uncertainty and the murky nuances of modern love. It feels perfectly in tune with the Valentine’s Day vibe, and the neon-kissed music video, directed by Nilo Tabrizy and Mae Ryan, is a visual feast. 

Make no mistake; we definitely needed an updated, more globally-minded version of the Panamanian sound, and Nino Augustine can lead the way. He is definitely one to watch. 

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