‘On Friday, “Despacito,” the hit song by the Puerto Rican artists Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee, became the most watched video on YouTube ever, with nearly three billion views. And it got there faster than any music video in history.
It begins with a steel-stringed Puerto Rican guitar called the cuatro, which most likely descended from an instrument brought to Spain from North Africa by Moors. The rolling reggaeton beat came out of Jamaica and, long before that, probably originated in West Africa. In rapping, Daddy Yankee employs an art form developed by urban African-Americans, infusing it with the unique feel of Puerto Rican Spanish and slang. Mr. Fonsi’s deliciously suggestive lyrics arguably belong to a tradition that stretches back to the lovelorn troubadours of medieval Spain, and beyond.
The song is a fusion, an amalgam. As such, it doesn’t just illustrate the genius of pop music but also serves as a model of how creativity works generally. Innovation often involves organizing old pieces into new configurations. Hence their emphasis on cross-pollination — their open work spaces and public areas designed to encourage intermingling.’