Music

Residente Says Referring to the U.S. As ‘America’ Is a Form of Colonization

Grammy Award-winning Puerto Rican artist Residente is known to never mince words, using his rap verses to make razor-sharp comments on the current political landscape — both in the U.S. and across Latin America.

For one, his 2010 album “Entren Los Que Quieran” is arguably his “obra maestra,” taking listeners for a ride through South America’s political history. In the album’s epic track “Latinoamérica,” he references topics as far-reaching as Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s novel “El Amor En Los Tiempos Del Cólera,” Diego Maradona’s iconic goals, and the U.S.-backed Operation Condor that possibly led to 60,000 deaths throughout South America.

In short, Residente never holds back, whether at the studio crafting game-changing diss track “Residente: Bzrp Music Sessions, Vol. 49” aimed at the hypocrisy of the current music industry (and yes, J Balvin), or saying exactly what’s on his mind on a social and political level.

Now, his latest song “This Is Not America” featuring Afro-French Cuban sister duo Ibeyi is making similar waves — and a recent Amazon Music Q&A alongside LaKeith Stanfield shows the “Muerte en Hawaii” rapper is looking to make changes both in and out of the music world.

In the Q&A, Residente talked about his latest single, which takes us all through the impacts Latinos have made on the U.S. and how we are often “left out” of the conversation.

Lyrics like “from long before you arrived, our footsteps were already here,” and “America isn’t just USA… this runs from Tierra del Fuego up to Canada” make a comment on how calling the U.S. “America” is actually completely inaccurate. The track also describes Latinos’ vast contributions, ranging from how the current calendar can be traced back to the Maya civilization, and even how rap legend Tupac was named after Peruvian revel Túpac Amaru.

Residente explained that referring to the United States as “America” is egocentric in itself, saying, “America is the whole continent.”

As per the “No Hay Nadie Como Tú” artist, people should “feel weird” saying America, and that it’s as wrong as saying that “Morocco is Africa.” The song looks to educate people on the subject — and now, Residente is meeting with university linguists to find a new word to describe people living in the U.S. As per the rapper, “we have to bring a solution… a word to describe Americans… [like] Estadounidenses.”

About the issues Latinos face living in the U.S., the platinum artist said, “we want to be included, and the way we should be included is not being excluded, because we’re being excluded every time you refer to you as ‘America.’” In fact, he said that the inaccurate label in itself “works in your psychology” even if it seems like a “little detail” to some — likening it to how maps often show the U.S. bigger than it really is.

Meanwhile, actor and musician LaKeith Stanfield also shared comments on how even the term “African American” is “a strange way to describe me or anybody else that I know who’s Black in America because it doesn’t make sense.” Referring to Latinoamérica, he also said, “when we’re talking about the U.S… be inclusive about the whole land mass… remember that America is a whole,” comparing it to how it’s the “same thing with Africa… stop calling everything Africa, African.”

While the conversation ended on a note about how “everything needs to be respected,” people continue to watch the music video for “This Is Not America” over and over — mostly because of the vast multitude of references to Latin America’s political crises and mostly tragic historical events.

The video is a work of art, with one Twitter user creating a thread with a whopping 31 found references, ranging from the appearance of Lolita Lebrón, a Puerto Rican pro-independence revolutionary convicted of attempted murder after an attack on the U.S. Capitol in the 50s, all the way to the disappearance of Mexican students Los 43 de Ayotzinapa.

The video is worth a watch (or two, or three), depicting what “America” really is — a landmass that has historically seen sociopolitical tragedies such as the incarceration of children at the Mexican-U.S. border, or the execution of Chilean musician Víctor Jara by the far-right dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.

Talking about all people of color living in the U.S., Residente said, “it’s important that our communities get united… we are minorities with a lot of power and we should get united to make changes.”

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