Two years ago, President Donald Trump rallied up his 2016 election campaign at the expense of offending an entire culture and ethnicity that has helped build this nation up long before Anglo-Americans ran them off this land. Trump’s initial efforts to build a wall between the American people and Latinx communities coincidentally backfired as more multicultural collaborations have recently integrated a growth in Spanglish songs across music platforms.
In 2018, the latest hit songs storming the charts for both pop and rap music feature popular Latinx influencers who are making their mark in mainstream music. Rapper Cardi B collaborated with Colombian native J Balvin and Puerto Rican native Bad Bunny in a music banger titled “I Like It.”
Reggaeton’s influence among popular songs has also led to a new flavor and rhythm in the music industry that has caught the eyes of many producers and DJs, such as DJ Khaled’s “Wild Thoughts,”influenced by Mexican-American musician Carlos Santana, and in DJ Snake’s recent song, “Taki Taki.” The song features reggaeton sensation Ozuna, Cardi B and popstar Selena Gomez.
The beginning of this cultural crossover in the music industry began in 2016 when the world could not get enough of the pervasive-remix of “Despacito,”written by Puerto Rican artists Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee, featuring pop heartthrob Justin Bieber.
We also can’t forget the iconic remix between reggaeton superstar J Balvin and Beyonce in “Mi Gente,” which was unexpectedly released following natural disasters in 2016 to raise funds for victims in affected countries, such as Mexico and Puerto Rico.
Growing up Mexican-American, my music playlists have always showcased both sides of my cultural backgrounds. You can find artists ranging from American top selling artists such as Ariana Grande and Lady Gaga, to Latin legends such as Shakira and Daddy Yankee. This cultural crossover in recent mainstream music has created a sense of who I am in a completely different dynamic.
These multicultural collaborations between Latinx communities and mainstream music in the U.S. did not integrate overnight. Nineties’ artists Selena Quintanilla, Ricky Martin and Jennifer Lopez crossed over to mainstream music long before Despacito debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Songs for 16 weeks straight; however, there is a difference.
Before Selena was tragically killed at the age of 23 by the founder of her fan club in 1995, she was in the process of finishing up her first English-language album and close to the “brink of a major crossover, ‘up there with the Janets and the Madonnas’.”
The “Livin La Vida Loca” artist, Ricky Martin, ended his crossover in English-language music and returned back to his Latin roots in the late ’90s after completing 36 songs in English and having not made a Spanish album in over five years. As for Jennifer Lopez, her crossover between English and Latin infused music continues as she recently performed on the VMA stage with various hit songs ranging from the ’90s to her current Spanish hit with Cardi B and DJ Khaled, “Dinero.”
The difference between the two generations of music is, nowadays, the music goes beyond making an English album versus a Spanish album. In today’s crossover of music, artists are mixing both languages and paying homage to their roots with distinct Latin sounds and beats.
In the highly-anticipated collab between Bad Bunny and Drake that dropped last week, “Eres Mia,” the Canadian artist does not use one ounce of English. The “In My Feelings” artist demonstrates his rapping skills in fluent Spanish, which resurfaced the stigma from some listeners as a form of cultural appropriation.
Drake has dabbled in the controversial debate of overstepping into cultural appropriation versus appreciation multiple times in the past as he has used Jamaican-influenced beats and British slang throughout his music. As part of the Latinx community, I believe for once Drake is not using the Latin culture for his own personal clout, but to bring out the underground genre of “Latin trap” into mainstream American music.
The sultry, slow rolling rhythms and lyrics of Latin music, in particular Latin trap and reggaeton, have been up to par with American listeners for a while now and it’s turning into the music industry’s hottest new sound.
Even with Trump in charge, the Latinx community once again has established its mark in mainstream America, refusing to back down.