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Reggaeton Stars Luny Tunes Come Home to Harvard

The Harvard Crimson
April 20, 2007

TAGS : Luny Tunes
While most Harvard students see an undergraduate degree as their road to prestige, Francisco Saldana and Victor Cabrera started elsewhere at the University: working in the Leverett House dining hall. They left Harvard in 2001 for Puerto Rico and have since become the production kings of reggaeton. As Luny Tunes, they have produced a string of hits, including Daddy Yankee’s “Gasolina,” Don Omar’s “Dale Don Dale,” and several remixes of Paris Hilton’s “Stars are Blind.”

On April 28, the award-winning duo will return to campus to host Presencia Latina, the annual Latino cultural celebration which features performances from Ballet Folklórico, Candela Salsa, Mariachi Veritas de Harvard, and others.

Visiting Harvard is a symbolic homecoming for the duo, at least according to Presencia Latina’s oraganizers.

“Whenever I’ve been talking to the manager, that’s what it is,” says Maria Teresa Herrera ’07, co-chair of Presencia. “It means so much to them.”

Producer Keny Zurita ’09 sees their appearance as significant for the Latino community on a larger scale.

“I think they serve as a good parallel for the lives of so many Latinos specifically in the U.S.,” he says.

“They sort of went at it a different way, but for so many of us at Harvard, there’s a big Latino emphasis on hard work. And they went in a different way than we did with higher education.”

While the return to Harvard is meaningful for Luny Tunes, Presencia Latina is also a major event for the Harvard Latino community.

“If you talk to a lot of juniors, seniors, freshmen, sophomores, one of the reasons we have for deciding on Harvard, and not being so scared to come to Harvard, was because of this show,” said Jonathan Rosa ’08, also a co-chair of Presencia.

The mission of Presencia Latina is exactly what its name implies: giving Latino culture a presence on campus.

As Zurita says, “To think about [how], six years ago, there wasn’t a venue for Hispanics to showcase art is sort of ridiculous. I think part of our mission is to establish our own traditions in the context of an institution that is so old, centuries old, and just now Hispanic traditions are emerging.”

A central theme of Presencia is uniting various Latino cultures, according to Rosa. “I think that’s one of the beauties of Presencia. You have different Hispanic groups on campus, but for Presencia everyone comes together,” he says.

Participation and community remain at the root of what makes Presencia unique. The highlight of the show is at the end, when audience members join dancers onstage, and many of the performers fly in family specially for the event.

Reggaeton, the territory of Luny Tunes, fits directly into the multicultural approach of Presencia Latina. Alexis M. Pacheco ’08, director of Presencia Latina, says.

“While reggaeton may be party music for a lot of people, it started as a mixture of Jamaican music, and African beats, and hip-hop, and a mixture of music that doesn’t represent just one Latino country,” says Pacheco.

“Reggaeton is not only Puerto Rico, it’s something that all Latinos can identify with,” she adds.

Rosa concurs, saying, “You grow up with Mexican salsa, but you grow up in urban areas, and the music is hip-hop or rap. But reggaeton is new music, a new identity.”

Presencia’s organizers say they hope that bringing Luny Tunes to campus will open the show up to an audience beyond the Latino community.

According to Pacheco, “We’ll get different kinds of people coming to our show, and this will kind of establish Presencia as a new, exciting thing that not only Latinos go to, but everyone can come—”

“Create a greater presence in the community,” Rosa finishes.

Ultimately, Luny Tunes fuses Latino identity into reggaeton.

“That’s exactly what I want people to get from the show from bringing Luny Tunes to Harvard,” says Herrera. “Yes, they may dress in long shirts and baggy pants, but they are hard-working, so much so that I can’t even reach them when I called their manager, because they’re always in the recording studio.”