Entertainment

Some Latinos Feel Betrayed By Their Favorite Reggaetoneros As Some Artists Are Turning To American Classics For Inspiration

Reggaetón has spread out into the world like wildfire, signaling a whole era of Latinx representation in mainstream culture. The infectious musical movement has become a wave that artists from all over the world want to ride. And in the process, Reggaeton has been Americanized, Europeanized, watered-down, dressed-up and recomposed to fit a thousand new contexts —and here’s why it’s a problem.

The 2010s saw a rise in global popularity of what used to be a Latinx exclusive genre.

This last decade will go down in history as the beginning of the global Reggaeton and Latin trap era. In the past years we’ve seen these two genres take over the globe, from North America, to Europe, to Asia.

“Despacito” was a major moment in the expansion of Latin Trap and Reggaetón.

In 2017, Luis Fonsi’s hit transcended borders and geographic locations. From a Latinx point of view, it was the first time a reggaeton song infected audiences everywhere, and it became clear that this was a bigger movement now. With the help of Justin Bieber, who later hopped on for the most commercially successful remix of the decade— the song reached worldwide dancefloors and broke records for the most views on YouTube.

Luis Fonsi’s mega-hit opened the doors for artists like J Balvin, Ozuna, and Bad Bunny, to show global audiences what they were capable of.

Following the breakout success of “Despacito,” the world was finally ready to listen to what reggaetoneros had to offer. Artists were recognized by fans and media members alike as worldwide sensations, despite achieving notoriety on a local and regional level.

In the mind of executives, Reggaeton was an untapped market which people from different backgrounds could be targeted.

The growth of artists like Bad Bunny, Karol G, and others, was such that mainstream outlets eventually began to call them “global popstars,” a white-washed term that took away their reggaeton roots. This practice has made these artists more digestible to American audiences. But, removing their reggaeton tags strips them of who they are and becomes a disrespectful denial of cultural history.

In 2018, ‘Mi Gente’ shot up the Billboard charts and became another worldwide hit.

In the opening lines of J Balvin’s reggaetón hit Mi Gente, the Colombian superstar made a few promises. For one, this song is gonna be for everyone—Latino, or otherwise. “Mi música no discrimina a nadie así que vamos a romper, Toda mi gente se mueve.” Mi Gente shot up the Billboard charts in both the Spanish speaking world and, somewhat more surprisingly, in the United States. From Madrid to Mountain View, its thumping bass and infectious rhythm received countless hours of playtime on mainstream FM radio and made innumerable appearances at bars, nightclubs and parties.

Mi Gente, however, was far from alone.

J Balvin’s success was largely indicative of a new wave of music, the likes of which hadn’t been seen stateside since the famed ‘British Invasion’ of the 1960s. But unlike the English-language popularity of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones that so characterized that era, this particular ‘invasion’ is in largely in Spanish—or so it had been.

And then came one of the weirdest trends in reggaeton: Its interpolation with American music.

On March 20, 2018, Alex Rose and Myke Towers released “Darte,” a trap song borrowing the melody from Akon’s 2006 hit “I Wanna Love You” to create a smash single that would change the immediate future of the industry. With this formula, Rose and Towers created a blueprint for quick success, putting the originality of the Latin trap genre in danger.

After “Darte,” in January 2019, Daddy Yankee dropped “Con Calma.”

The catchy hit took its charm from Snow’s 1992 single “Informer,” using the melody and adapting new lyrics. Another example is Anuel AA’s posse cut “China” which turned the melody from Shaggy’s 1999 classic hit “It Wasn’t Me” into the earworm of the year. Later that year, in October, J Balvin, alongside the Black Eyed Peas, released “RITMO,” a dry tune that uses the same chorus as Corona’s “Rhythm Of The Night.”

The lazy formula has spread into 2020.

Less than one month into the year, not one but two different songs copied the chant from Ini Kamoze’s 1995 single “Here Comes the Hotstepper”—Daddy Yankee and Nicky Jam’s long-awaited comeback single as Los Cangris, “Muévelo,” and the collaboration between Static & Ben El and Pitbull, “Further Up.” These songs were released only two days apart.

The latest single in this mashup trend, dropped January 12.

“Me Gusta” by Shakira and Anuel AA takes Bob Marley’s classic ‘A Lalala long” copying the melody and chorus chant.

The trend is resulting in a lack of creativity that’s stripping away the boldness of reggaetón.

This mix and mashup trend is changing the sound of reggaeton and Latin Trap to cater to international audiences and make the Latinx genre more palatable. The innovative nature of reggaeton is the reason for the genre’s international success in the first place.

Reggaeton artists and producers have the means and creative drive to give us innovative, fun, and fresh material.

It only takes one quick glance at Bad Bunny’s career. His aesthetic, innovative sound and daring lyrics have been well received in American magazines. We know reggaetoneros can make genre-shifting music, because they have. Which is why the laziness behind this trend is almost offensive—especially for Latinos who’ve grown up listening to the genre and adopted it as our primary sound.

Now that reggaeton has conquered the US market, and with this breakthrough, artists and producers have amassed more money, resources, popularity and respect; this trend towards the interpolation of Latinx sound with classic American songs—an effort to make the genre more palatable to English-speaking listeners—feels like a betrayal.

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Bad Bunny Talks New Music And His Future In Reggaetón In A Powerful New Interview

Entertainment

Bad Bunny Talks New Music And His Future In Reggaetón In A Powerful New Interview

Kevin Mazur / Getty Images

So much of this year has been spent inside our apartments singing and dancing to Bad Bunny hits like “Safaera” and “Yo Perreo Sola” or looking through countless magazines that made him their cover boy.

It seems that 2020 is peak Bad Bunny, as the reggaetónero takes over the world bringing us hit after hit while bringing perreo into the mainstream.

Now, in his latest cover story in The Culture Issue of the New York Times, San Benito gives us insight into what his 2020 has been like, what we can expect from him in the not so distant future and what being a Puerto Rican super star means to him.

Bad Bunny is taking over the world and his latest interview with the New York Times details just how he plans to do it.

‘The World According to Bad Bunny’ – that is what graces the cover of the New York Times’ latest Culture Issue. And it catches your eye – his full face, including his now signature mustache – force you to do a double take to soak in all of his glory. Or maybe that was just my reaction…

Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio — more popularly known as Bad Bunny, San Benito, El Conejo Malo — is the reggaetónero we’ve all fallen in love with and who is topping charts throughout the world. 

His latest feature story covers everything from his love for Puerto Rico to his next album, but it’s also another major step for the artist in putting both is home and the Latino community on the world stage.

His profile begins with Bad Bunny discussing his album YHLQMDLG, which begins with the song “Si Veo a Tu Mamá”, which has a verse we can all relate to in 2020: “maldito Año Nuevo” (or “this damn new year”). But despite all the BS that 2020 has thrown our way, Bad Bunny has managed to shine through by being an advocate when it comes to so many issues.

Bad Bunny says he feels like an “athlete representing his Puerto Rico at the Olympics.“

San Benito has made it his mission to put his homeland on the map and to showcase to the world the problems that Boricuas face on the island. In the interview, Bad Bunny describes himself as an athlete representing Puerto Rico in the Olympics.

Those problems he speaks of include the island’s status as a commonwealth territory of the U.S. which means its citizens on the island cannot vote for president or have any voting representatives in Congress. 

The natural disasters of Hurricane Maria, Irma and the earthquakes that rung in 2020 also add to the laundry list of problems, and also came with little financial help from Trump’s federal government, which has left Puerto Rico in a vulnerable state to this day.

In language, Caribbean Spanish like that of Puerto Rico is heavily criticized by the so-called sophisticated Latin Americans, but they all bop their heads to Bad Bunny tunes like “Safaera,” “La Romana,” and more.

So many of us love Bad Bunny for his constant activism and he doesn’t disappoint in this NYT piece.

Bad Bunny is known for breaking cultural stereotypes, shattering boundaries others couldn’t dream of, and advocating for women. He’s even openly talked about depression, and shown the world it is okay not to feel okay.

His activism has also shown support for the trans community with the video “Yo Perreo Sola,” dressed in drag, or when he’s done public appearances wearing a skirt and a shirt that read “mataron a alexa, no a un hombre en falda.”

However, in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, Benito was suspiciously mute — no posts on social media, no interviews. He seemed to have disappeared at a moment that so many of us could of benefited from his compassion. Many criticized the singer for his silence.

But on June 12, a TIME article was published about him speaking out, through email exchanges, and how he did not want to just send a basic message, but rather go deeper to “support the fight against a systematic monster that’s been [around for] centuries.”

Bad Bunny also speaks out about reggaetón’s black roots – which so often go unmentioned.

Credit: Kevin Mazur / Getty Images

As for inspirations, Benito called out the prominent Black stars who helped shape reggaetón into the phenomenon that is it today. He admits that’s something he’s still learning about. “As a child, for better or worse, I always lived in my bubble,” Benito says. “Now, I could say – and people do say – it’s a form of privilege. But it’s always been my way of being. Me, in my house and in my bubble, imagining a better, more magical world.”

As he ascends into the pop mainstream, Bad Bunny also opens up about returning reggaetón to its Puerto Rican roots on his album YHLQMDLG. “Since reggaetón went pop all over the world, I don’t feel like people really know the sound that raised me, that I grew up studying,” he says. “This is the album I would’ve wanted to release when I was 15 and dreamed of being a singer.” Benito also hints to the next project, adding, “My next album doesn’t have anything to do with YHLQMDLG.”

It’s a long interview but, come on, it’s with Bad Bunny so the entire interview is worth the read. You can check out the NYT piece here.

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McDonald’s Announced Their Newest Menu Item: The ‘J Balvin Meal’

Entertainment

McDonald’s Announced Their Newest Menu Item: The ‘J Balvin Meal’

Photo: jbalvin/Instagram

If you thought J Balvin couldn’t get any more successful than he already is, you were wrong.

On Monday, McDonalds announced a surprise collaboration with the chart-topping Colombian reggaeton singer.

According to their press release, McDonalds and J Balvin have teamed up to create a signature “J Balvin Meal”. The meal will consist of a Big Mac, fries with ketchup and an Oreo McFlurry. Customers who order the meal through the app will get the McFlurry for free. The meal will be available until November 1st, so it is indeed, a limited-time offer.

“As a longtime McDonald’s fan, I am excited to join the short list of global icons who have had a meal named in their honor,” Balvin said in the press release. “I am looking forward to sharing my signature order with my fans, along with more surprises that are to come with this partnership. ¡Lego!”

McDonald’s had been teasing the meal for days, tweeting out messages like “reply to this tweet and we’ll tell you a secret about our next collab meal”. They also sent out a cryptic tweet where they just posted a bunch of rainbow-colored circles (for those of you who don’t know, J Balvin loves rainbow colors so much that he named his fifth studio album “Colores” and called his tour the “Arcoiris” tour).

The J Balvin x McDonald’s collab comes on the heels of the fast food chain’s wildly successful collaboration with rapper Travis Scott.

The Travis Scott Meal (which was literally just a quarter pounder with cheese topped with lettuce and bacon, fries with barbecue sauce, and a Sprite) was so popular that McDonald’s reported nationwide shortages of the meal’s key ingredients, like lettuce, slivered onions, and bacon.

It makes sense that the most popular artist in the world is getting his own McDonald’s meal. And naturally, fans have some thoughts…

The opportunity to express their opinions about this unconventional collaboration was just too tempting to pass up.

The memes about the possibility of multi-colored burgers were plentiful.

If McDonald’s offered multi-colored burgers, something tells us they would have people lining up out the door.

Of course, people couldn’t help but take a jab at McDonald’s *constant* broken ice-cream machines.

McDonald’s might as well have added a disclaimer to their press release explaining that the McFlurries would only be available at locations in the U.S. with working ice-cream machines (all ten of them).

Some people were even brain-storming ideas for the next famous artist and McDonald’s collab:

Considering McDonald’s prides itself as a family-friendly establishment, we’re not sure how they could pull this one off…although we’d love to see them try!

We wonder what artist McDonald’s plans to collaborate with next!

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