Interviews

Zion y Lennox's Durini Festival Celebrates July 4 with Endless Reggaeton

Zion y Lennox wants you to celebrate Independence Day with plenty of reggaeton.
Zion y Lennox wants you to celebrate Independence Day with plenty of reggaeton. Photo by Jose R. Madera/Getty Images
It feels like a weird time to be celebrating America. Perhaps that's why something like Durini Festival, an urbano music festival on the Fourth of July at Wynwood Marketplace, feels so right this year.

Behind the festival are reggaeton superstars Zion y Lennox, along with Miami Music Partners, which used to stage its annual IndepenDance Fourth of July weekend event. In addition to the Puerto Rican powerhouses, the lineup includes De La Ghetto, Micro TDH, Jerry Di, Akapellah, Casper Magico, Caleb Calloway, Brray, Joyce Santana, Caceres, Kendaya, Young Miko, and Carmen DeLeon.

"[The festival] was born as a result of the fact that we have always wanted to have a festival together with our colleagues where we could support new artists, including those at the Baby Records Inc family," Zion y Lennox tell New Times over email. "We created this festival where we could all come together and celebrate."

The twosome, who made a point of responding to all of New Times' questions in unison, say they couldn't think of a better day to throw a massive perreo than on the Fourth of July, adding that the event came together thanks to their team.

With Spanish-language artists like Bad Bunny now topping the Billboard charts, it's hard to imagine a time when urbano music wasn't as popular. But Zion y Lennox got their start in the early aughts, when reggaeton was still gaining traction in Latin America. The form derived from Spanish-language dancehall music that rose to prominence in the late 1980s and early '90s with acts like Panama's El General, but it wasn't until Puerto Rico gave the music its own spin that the reggaeton we know and dirty dance to today came into existence.

Zion y Lennox were part of that early wave, with singles like "Estoy Esperando" and "Hay Algo en Ti." Their debut album, 2004's Motivando a la Yal,  was an instant hit.

Still, back then, Spanish-language artists weren't dominating in the U.S., and those who did — Shakira, Marc Anthony, Ricky Martin, Paulina Rubio — had to take the crossover route, singing in English.

"We have been in this game a long time, and the fact that it continues to rise fills us with so much joy," they say of urbano's current popularity. "We want to keep making music and connecting with audiences around the world to continue the momentum."

While the "Latin explosion" of the late '90s and early 2000s eventually proved to be a flash in the pan, it feels different this time around. Perhaps that's because Spanish-language acts seem less keen about singing in English to win over audiences. (Bad Bunny has famously refused to make English-language music.) And at the same time, it feels like the current wave is more adept at experimentation, which sets it apart from the American and European sounds that tend to dominate the sonic landscape.

Zion y Lennox see reggaeton and its closely associated genres of Latin trap and urbano as here to stay — and also moving forward.

"It will continue to evolve, mixing rhythms without losing the essence of the genre, adding international and local voices to give it a special, dynamic and different touch," they write. "Right now, with the tools and platforms that did not exist before and those that will come, it will be easier to continue taking Latin music to the next level and all over the world."

Durini Festival. 4 p.m. Monday, July 4, at Wynwood Marketplace, 2250 NW Second Ave., Miami; durinifestival.com. Tickets cost $45 to $89 at fevo.com.
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Jose D. Duran is the associate editor of Miami New Times. He's the strategist behind the publication's eyebrow-raising Facebook and Twitter feeds. He has also been reporting on Miami's cultural scene since 2006. He has a BS in journalism and will live in Miami as long as climate change permits.
Contact: Jose D. Duran