In today’s música urbana landscape, Panama often doesn’t get the credit it deserves. As the birthplace of plena, the style that later synthesized into the Puerto Rican underground and became reggaeton, the impact of Panama in molding today’s effervescent urbano landscape cannot be overstated.
Today, the go-to reference point for the torrent of urbano talent streaming out of Panama is Rich Music: a boutique record label with ties to majors like Warner Music and Universal, boasting artists like R&B upstart Sech. But there’s also a thriving cadre of panameños bubbling up from the underground, and perhaps none more generative than Atlanta-via-San Miguelito MC Nino Augustine, who unveiled his video for “Activo” today.
“Activo” launches with an addictive dembow riddim, punctuated by blazing horns, like a midnight perreo march. The video, which was partially filmed in the San Miguelito district where Nino was born, harnesses the energy of a sticky, summertime block party. Nino collides the plena and reggaeton influences of his upbringing with Southern hip-hop swag, drawing on his current musical milieu in Atlanta.
“It feels great knowing that I’m from the place where this amazing genre was birthed, and to see how huge it’s gotten worldwide,” he told Noisey in March. “I love what all Latino artists from all over Latinoamerica have done, and are doing for the culture, and I also want to give the love and respect to the ones that planted the seeds for the genre to get to where it is now.”
“Activo” is a punchy introduction to Nino’s upcoming project Me Toca a Mi, or It’s My Turn, due out August 2nd.