Mon Laferte stunned everyone on the red carpet of the 2019 Latin Grammys in Las Vegas last night. The 36-year-old singer-songwriter and winner of Best Alternative Music Album appeared topless to make a political statement about police brutality in Chile.
There have been violent protests in Chile after the government announced a new hike in subway fares during a time when wealth inequality has left many Chileans wanting. No doubt, Mon Laferte’s move was attention-grabbing — she’s making headlines and bringing the struggle of her people to the public’s attention in the process.
Mon Laferte bares it all to make an important statement.
Laferte appeared on the red carpet wearing a long black trench coat with black pants and a green bandana tied around her neck. She stunned photographers when she stepped forward, opened her coat, and revealed that she was completely topless. Written across her decollete in capitalized letters was “En Chile Torturan Violan Y Matan,” or “In Chile, they torture, rape, and kill.”
On Instagram, she captioned a photo with her nipples censored to meet Instagram’s nudity guidelines, “My free body for a free country.” In another pose, Laferte shared that Instagram banned the hashtag #monlaferte because photos of her bare breasts circulated on the social platform.
Laferte won Best Alternative Music Album for the album Norma. She dedicated the award to Chile in her speech.
“I want to thank my colleagues … and especially to the public, the people, the fans that are there; without people nothing could happen,” the “El Beso” singer said.
Laferte released a new protest single with Guaynaa, “Plata Ta Tá.”
Laferte’s new single with Puerto Rican artist Guaynaa, “Plata Ta Tá” is about fighting for your rights. The single artwork is a censored photo of her breasts.
“This generation has the revolution, with their cell phone they have more power than Donald Trump,” Laferte sings on the track.
The reggaeton track is an anthem sure to get you hyped at the next protest. “Go out, go out / go fight, go fight / Let’s make the world listen,” Guaynaa chants in his verse.
Chileans protest the government’s increase in subway fares.
Chileans began demonstrating against the government’s subway fare hike in October, but things quickly escalated as police began to use force, killing at least 20 people so far. One million people took to the streets of one of the wealthiest countries in Latin America to protest economic inequality.
“The promise that political leaders from the left as well as right have made for decades — that free markets would lead to prosperity, and prosperity would take care of other problems — has failed them,” according to the New York Times.
Protests have gone on for weeks. President Sebastián Piñera decided against the fare increase but he also deployed the military on civilians for the first time since the country became a democracy in 1990. The protest continued and the President promised better social programs on TV, but the demonstrators were not convinced.
Violence has escalated in Chile with reports from the Associated Press saying police have begun shooting protestors in the eyes with shotgun pellets. At least 230 people, according to the country’s main medical body, have lost sight after being shot in the eye while demonstrating last month. At least 50 people will need prosthetic eyes.
“This means that the patient doesn’t only lose their vision, but they lose their actual eye,” said Dr. Patricio Meza, vice president of the Medical College of Chile. “We are facing a real health crisis, a health emergency given that in such few days, in three weeks, we have had the highest number of cases involving serious ocular complications due to shots in the eye.”
Chile’s congress agreed to reform the country’s constitution.
Today, Chile’s congress agreed to reform the nation’s constitution in hopes of ending the ongoing protests that have been run amuck with police brutality. “This has become possible thanks to the citizens who have been mobilized,” Chilean Senate President Jaime Quintana announced at a news conference in Santiago today.
Quintana promised the new constitution would “build a true social contract” that would be “100 percent democratic,” according to CNN. The referendum will ask voters if the current constitution, created in 1980 by the dictator Augusto Pinochet, should be replaced.
“This agreement is a first step, but it is a historic and fundamental first step to start building our new social pact, and in this, the citizenry will have a leading role,” said Interior Minister Gonzalo Blumel.
There will be different models for the body proposed. Voters will be asked if they prefer the body consist of elected representatives, political appointees, or a mix of both, according to Al Jazeera. Whether the new promises will be enough to satisfy the unrest in Chile will remain to be seen.
The Latin Grammys came under fire in September when they snubbed Colombian singer Maluma and other reggaeton artists, while nominating non-Latinx musicians from Spain like Rosalia instead. Maluma, J Balvin, Daddy Yankee, Natti Natasha, Nicky Jam released statements in defense of reggaeton, arguably one of the most popular genres in the world right now, on social media.
Now the “11 PM” singer has finally spoken out about the controversy that rocked the industry. Maluma hasn’t been entirely excluded from the Latin Grammys, winning his first last year for Best Contemporary Pop Vocal Album for F.A.M.E. He’s received 11 Latin Grammy nominations in his career. However, his most recent effort and fourth studio album 11:11 was snubbed entirely despite earning various nominations for other awards.
Maluma breaks his silence on the Latin Grammys controversy.
“To be honest, I don’t feel like I’m a part of the Academy. Like, I don’t know, they want me out,” Maluma told Entertainment Tonight. “The whole genre, reggaeton music, we change lives. We’re doing amazing things for the world, and I feel like they don’t see it.”
Maluma isn’t wrong, in 2018, Rolling Stone claimed reggaeton is more popular than ever, but because of that, there’s industry-wide panic that the genre could take over and muscle out other markets like pop and rock.
“Between 2016 and 2017, the number of Spanish-language entries on the Hot 100 jumped from a mere four to 19. So far this year, there have been at least 16 more charting singles,” the publication said.
Maluma’s fears of an industry backlash against reggaeton just might be true.
If reggaeton reigns supreme than other genres will begin to disappear because they are no longer profitable for artists and labels.
“Even Mexico — which used to be a pop and rock market for a long time — is turning into an urban market. When everything becomes a monoculture, it’s dangerous for the sake of artistry,” Juan Paz, a former major-label employee said.
However, artists like Jesus Navarro, the lead singer of Mexican pop-rock trio Reik, said some musicians are just upset the former underdog is now reigning supreme.
“Four or five years ago, pop music was still the ruling genre, it was the king, it had the radio stations and the magazines,” Navarro said. “Pop artists used to look down on reggaeton artists. And when they finally start to collaborate with those acts, some are still not very willing to immerse themselves in the sound and the nuances.”
One of the people Rolling Stone interviewed, even called out Maluma, who has had three consecutive number one albums on the Top Latin Albums chart and had the second-biggest streaming debut for a Latin album in 2019, by name.
“Unfortunately at the end of the day, record labels’ jobs is not to expand culture,” adds Tomas Cookman, head of the Latin-music-focused indie label Nacional Records. “They’re out to make a buck. If Maluma’s big you’ll find other labels trying to sign their version of him.”
Maluma and other artists feel dissed by the Latin Recording Academy.
“It’s kind of sad because we all appreciate and we all respect the Academy. When we see the nominations, it’s like, ‘What did I do wrong?’ Like, [it’s] so random and so weird and not being a part of it, you feel like you’re not part of the Latin Academy,” Maluma said. “That’s why we wanted to talk about it and see what’s going on with the Academy. I think it has to change.”
J. Balvin, a reggaeton superstar, who was the most-streamed artist on Spotify worldwide in 2018, said that reggaeton has been historically denigrated.
“I know there’s a lot being said about reggaeton and the phrase ‘without reggaeton there is no Latin GRAMMYs,'” Balvin elaborated.
“What we want to say is, they [the Latin Recording Academy] utilize our media power because we drive the masses. But, that doesn’t mean that because we have such a strong following that our music is the best, or the best produced, or the best written. But, there is a history that dates back many years, where our genre has been denigrated.”
Maluma is hopeful that the Latin Grammys and industry will change and grow to respect reggaeton.
“I think it’s going to happen, actually, because we have to talk about it,” the 25-yea-old singer said. “It’s something happening inside the Academy, but I think next year, I hope we all will be there.”
As Hector Rubin Rivera, the senior director for A&R at Warner Latin, acknowledged, there was a time when salsa music was dismissed as “urban.”
“Salsa music for Latinos was urban music back when [the famous salsa label] Fania started [in New York in 1964],” Rubin told Rolling Stone. “They were as rebellious and revolutionary as the reggaeton guys. Back then I’m sure everyone felt the same way — ‘Everybody’s paying attention to salsa, bro, but I’m trying to do ballads!’”