Entertainment

Maluma Breaks His Silence On The Latin Grammys Controversy And Spills The Tea On So Much More

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!’”

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