Entertainment

Spain Has Colonized The 2019 Latin Grammys And Latino Twitter Has Some Serious Thoughts

The Latin Recording Academy continued to dismiss valid criticism from the Latinx community by nominating Spanish artists Alejandro Sanz and Rosalia. The two European artists received the most nominations, in the most prestigious categories of the bunch, while urbano artists were shut out our relegated to niche categories. 

“The Latin Recording Academy is privileged to see so many talented and diverse artists join the milestone 20th Annual Latin GRAMMY Awards season,” writes Gabriel Abaroa Jr., President and CEO of The Latin Recording Academy. 

“Since our inception, our international membership continues to be our driving force in the pursuit of excellence. Whether they are a sound engineer, a performer, a songwriter, or a music arranger — regardless of their gender, age, national identity, or musical genre — the nominees are the product of a voting process where every vote counts. Latin music continues to grow internationally and we’re excited to celebrate the music that unites us all.”

Justifying whitewashing by calling it diversity is really something.

Rosalia and Alejandro Sanz: the conquistadors of music.

Two white Europeans from Spain, Alejandro Sanz and Rosalia, have swept the Latin Grammys. Sanz received the most nominations of anyone with eight nods, while Rosalia received five. 

Sans was nominated for Album of the Year and Best Contemporary Pop Album for #ELDISCO. He and Rosalia were both nominated for Song and Record of the Year. Many artists and actual Latinxs are fuming.

What makes these artists Latinx other than that they descended from the folks that colonized the Americas, raped and ethnically cleansed indigenous people, initiated that Trans-Atlantic Slave route, created the casta system, then subjugated the resulting multi-ethnic communities they denied self-determination from for centuries? That is a rhetorical question. 

This is like white people saying they’re African American because both groups speak English and share some cultural elements while ignoring why that cultural diffusion occurred (slavery and oppression). 

Rosalia feels 100 percent Latina

Earlier this year, Billboard featured Rosalia in their “Growing Up Latino” series where she says she feels a hundred percent Latina and that she is at home visiting countries like Panama and Mexico. Except Rosalia is from Barcelona. 

This is cultural appropriation: a member of the dominant culture (Spain) is stealing elements of the oppressed culture for profit. In this case, it is her use of Colombian rhythms, guajira, and rumba — which no one was even really upset about until Rosalia began identifying as Latina. The United States census would not identify Rosalia as anything but white or European so why should Latinxs? 

Rosalia says she is representing her culture

Rosalia courted controversy by stepping into Latinx spaces again when she won a Best Latin VMA this year. She further alienated Latinxs by accepting the award but also saying she was representing her culture when the reality is she is appropriating ours. 

“I come from Barcelona. I’m so happy to be here representing where I come from, and representing my culture,” she said in her speech.  

Artists call out the conquistadors 

Artists like Nicky Jam, Karol G, and J Balvin have posted a photo reading “Sin reggaeton, no hay Latin Grammy,” to call out the nominations and disregard for reggaeton and urbano artists. Artists like Bad Bunny, Ozuna, Daddy Yankee, Sech and De La Ghetto received nominations but they are standing in solidarity with real Latinxs. 

“Despite being nominated, I don’t agree with the way they treated the genre and a lot of my colleagues. Remember one very important thing: Their platform was not the one that created this movement. This goes beyond a prize. This is culture, credibility, relevance, and RESPECT,” Daddy Yankee wrote on Instagram. 

Maluma was also upset that he did not receive a single Latin Grammy nomination for this album 11:11.  

Credit: nickyjampr / Instagram

“It is a disappointment to not even have one Latin Grammys nomination. So much effort, the best album I’ve ever made in my LIFE,” Maluma said. 

The Latin Grammys now must justify why they have excluded real Latinxs while including white Europeans. Urbano music is basically some of the most popular on the entire planet, artists like Bad Bunny, Ozuna, and J Balvin have had explosive chart numbers and broken world records yet they were relegated to Urban categories. 

This is not unusual in the Grammys either — Beyonce and Kendrick Lamar have both had culturally monumental albums snubbed from major categories. It is clear Grammy voters have their own caste system where white people deserve the highest recognition. One where black and brown people are consistently sent the message they should “stay in their lane” and that their music cannot speak to universal themes (despite the numbers indicating otherwise). 

If Macklemore can win Best Rap Album, then, of course, they will justify Spanish artists winning Latin Grammys. This is what colonizers do. 

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Billboard Listed The Top 50 Latin Music Songs Of All Time And Some People Have Questions

Entertainment

Billboard Listed The Top 50 Latin Music Songs Of All Time And Some People Have Questions

shakira / jbalvin / Instagram

Latin music is something we all grew up with. Our parents raised us on the voices of Celia Cruz and Vicente Fernandez. We cleaned the house and entertained ourselves on road trips to these artists and they are ingrained in our DNA. Billboard recently released a list of the 50 best Latin music songs of all time and some are undoubtedly iconic and others just aren’t Latin music.

Billboard dropped their list for the 50 best Latin music songs of all time and some of them are truly classics.

Amor Prohibido” by Selena, “Guantanamera” by Celia Cruz, “El Rey” by Vicente Fernandez, and “El dia que me quieras” by Luis Miguel are just a few of the songs on the list that deserve all the praise. They are songs that transport us to our childhoods and cherished family memories.

The list also includes some newer songs that have rocked out adult worlds. “Despacito” by Luis Fonsi, “Mi Gente” by J Balvin, “El Farsante” by Ozuna, and “Tusa” by Karol G and Nicki Minaj all made the list. Not only do these songs speak to the Latino audience, they have been able to go mainstream sharing our musical culture with the world. That’s something to admire and respect because it gives our community representation like never before.

The list has proven to be just want some people have been asking for.

Tbh, this would make a pretty amazing road trip playlist if you need to pass the time. Nothing like a mix of Latin music songs playing along to give you a big, inclusive sabor of Latin America through music. A little be of Mexico and a little bit of Puerto Rico mixed in with a little bit of Colombia is pure joy and magic.

However, a lot of people are questioning the list’s inclusion of Spanish artists.

The list has various artists who are not Latino, but Spanish. There seems to be an unspoken rule in the music industry that music in Spanish is automatically Latin music. Fans have long been arguing against the industry’s blanket label of Spanish-language music automatically being considered Latin music.

Rosalía, who has arguably become the face of the debate, is listed as having one of the best Latin music songs of all time.

While Rosalía does make some good music, there is a real push to make sure the artists of Latin American roots are uplifted in Latin music. There is nothing wrong with including Rosalía in your Spanish-language playlists but Latin music fans want the distinction made that some artists aren’t Latino.

You can check out the rest of the Billboard list here.

READ: Vogue México Put A Spanish Music Artist On Their Cover And Called Her Latina And Latinos Almost Set Twitter On Fire

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This Brand Is Being Called A ‘Culture Vulture’ After Being Accused Of Gentrifying Latino Cooking

Culture

This Brand Is Being Called A ‘Culture Vulture’ After Being Accused Of Gentrifying Latino Cooking

Granddriver / Getty Images

As a kid growing up in a Latino household, pretty much everyone had a giant molcajete for grinding up spices and making salsas, or a tortilladora for whipping up homemade tacos and quesadillas. And as staple of pretty much any Latina home, they weren’t that expensive either.

Well, one online company has taken all of that and flipped it upside down to try and make a very hefty profit by bringing ‘artisan crafted’ products into people’s homes – helping them experience a ‘cultural journey.’

The store’s outrageous prices for such traditional kitchen items is generating tons of criticism alone from people calling them ‘culture vultures’ and accusing them of gentrifying Latino cooking and cultural appropriation.

Verve Culture is being called a ‘culture vulture’ for taking traditional Latino cooking tools and selling them at insanely high prices.

Credit: MiComidaVegana / YouTube

Verve Culture – an online store dedicated to bringing “you on a cultural journey” – is facing a series of complaints after profiting from traditional cultural products. The company sells typical products in the preparation of three traditional cuisines at very high prices: Mexican, Moroccan, and Thai.

In the case of traditional Mexican products, the company sells orange and lemon juices; accessories for making chocolate, blown glasses, and molcajetes. And at insanely high prices: a molcajete for $60, a tortilla press for $60, a Mexican chocolate set for $80, and a “Mexican hand juicer” for $15.

The company is obviously profiting off of traditional products of a culture that is too often denigrated – or on the other end of the spectrum, fetishized. Brands are no stranger to appropriating traditional cultural items to boost sales but this particular instance seems to have hit a major nerve with shoppers.

Like, for real?! A molcajete for $60 USD?!

Among some of the most outrageous priced items is a molcajete and tortillero set that goes for $60 USD. That’s literally 20 times more expensive than it should cost.

As someone who lives in Ciudad de México, and who does their shopping at local tianguis and mercados, I have literally bought the exact same set Verve Culture is selling. I paid $60 pesos for the set – not $60 USD – or about $3 USD.

Selling items like this at such inflated prices means Verve Culture is profiting off of the cultural and gastronomic identity of an entire country. So it’s no surprise that Mexican Twitter lit up in shock and anger.

The reaction on Twitter was swift and full of outrage.

A Tweet showing off the outrageously priced products and accusing the brand of “gentrifying Mexican kitchen cookware” already has 36,000 likes and almost 20,000 retweets.

Among some of the comments include one Twitter user who said “Take your site down. This is an insult to Mexican culture along with all the other cultures you’re profiting off. Our culture is not your home decor!”

Another user tweeted, “…not of them is brown so it should really be named stolen culture because they’re selling fancy versions of things traditional to Mexican culture. Having one is fine, profiting off of a minority or their culture is not fine.”

While at least one person pointed out that the people who craft these items have long been taken advantage of. In a tweet, she said “Culturally we’ve been taught that our incredible craft and culture are worth close to nothing for years now, I really wish we could just collectively erase this mindset but at this point it’s so deeply rooted that thinking differently even feels “wrong” most times.”

Many pointed out that if you want to respect a culture’s food, support actual locals and artesanos.

Shopping online from three women who are not from the communities they’re profiting off of, is now way to support that community. That should be common sense but that site seems to have many customers.

As one Twitter user pointed out, if you really want to support local trabajadores, you should be buying directly from them. Shop in your local flea markets, your Latinx-owned shops and markets, this is how you’ll best help artisans.

The company’s $60 tortilla press was even featured in a Buzzfeed article earlier this year.

In the article, the author points out that the “tortilla press is made in Mexico from old Singer sewing machines and other recycled irons! The cast iron should last you, basically, forever so it’s definitely worth your money.”

That’s all great but where is that money going? How much of the $60 is the Mexican, Moroccan, Thai artisan actually earning from Verve Culture’s sales?

So what is Verve Culture and what do they have to say about all of this?

According to their website, Verve Culture is “a women-run business spanning three generational groups from Baby Boomer, Gen X, to Millennial.” As founders, Jules and Jacquie are a mother and daughter team who have worked together for 27 years.

In the company’s about section, they go on to say, “We are in constant pursuit of life traveled fully.”

“Our vision is to explore the cultural richness of artisans and communities around the world – to educate and inspire, while honoring the traditions and heritage of their work.”

Despite these claims, Twitter has been loud and clear in its message: stop profiting off the backs of already underpaid and overworked artisans from around the world.

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