Latin Grammy's Makes Room for Newly Popular Reggaeton Music
Last year, the Latin Grammy’s experienced a large-scale controversy due to Reggaeton artists Daddy Yankee, J Balvin and Nicky Jam, who protested the award show after they refused to acknowledge the music genre. Daddy Yankee was the first to protest the awards show after sharing an image on Instagram with the caption “sin reggaeton, no hay Latin Grammy”
meaning, “without reggaeton, there’s no Latin Grammy’s.” In 2019, no reggaeton artists received a nomination for any of the ten primary categories, including well known artists Karol G, Ozuna and Becky G. They also claimed that the Latin Grammys was white-washing the awards show as Spanish Urbano artists like Rosalia and Alejandro Sanz received more nominations than popular latinx Urbano artists.
Reggaeton has an expanding global audience since artists like Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s ‘Despacito’ won record of the year in 2017. Yet, despite its newly found popularity, Reggaeton is not a new genre. It was started in the 1980s by artists DJ Negro and Vico C. Its style is a blend of different Afro-diasporic genres like Hip Hop, Dancehall and Plena. But, because of its roots in predominantly working-class Afro Latinx communities, it was quickly rejected by the mainstream latinx music establishment. Similar to how Hip Hop was rejected and considered dangerous, Reggaeton was seen as dangerous and music made by the poor.
While Reggaeton has continued to grow these last few years, it comes at a cost to its black and brown roots. Instead, light skin mestizos, white latinx, and Spanish artists are the face of the new wave of Urbano music. This racial dynamic has allowed only some artists to succeed, and this has caused the Latin Grammy’s to reward white artists while ignoring Latin American Urbano artists on the list of nominees.
After the backlash in 2019 from artists and viewers alike, the Latin Grammy’s board announced that they would add a new category called “Reggaeton”. This would allow Urbano artists to be recognized in their own category by the award show. Since this announcement, the nominee list has been released, and Reggaeton artists are dominating the nominations. Artist J Balvin has thirteen nominations, along with Bad Bunny and Ozuna with nine and eight, respectively. The Latin Academy President and CEO Gabriel Abaroa Jr released a statement saying, “we continued engaging in discussions with our members to improve the awards process and actively encouraged diverse latin music creators to join and participate” and that this year’s nominees “reflect the constant evolution of latin music.”
The 21st Annual Latin Grammy Awards will be held remotely on Thursday, November 19th and will function similarly to this year's MTV Video Music Awards due to the pandemic.