It seems that music, specifically hip-hop right now, is ready to embrace and celebrate both Black and Brown cultures equally.
Back in his 2011 hit “The Motto,” Drake shouted out Latinas and bachata super group Aventura with his infamous: “Spanish girls love me like I’m Aventura” line. Just two years later, Aventura singer, Romeo Santos collaborated with the Canadian rapper on his own 2013 song “Odio.” While this isn’t the first collaboration we see between mainstream rap and Spanish music, it definitely set the tone for what was to come.
Fast forward 5 years and we’re seeing the “Despacito” performance live (entirely in Spanish) at the Grammys, and while Justin Bieber laid down his vocals for the remix, his absence wasn’t missed. Nothing against Justin, his feature undeniably helped bring the song to American mainstream platforms but still it was fantastic seeing Latinxs getting a moment to shine on a mainstream U.S. awards show.
While we love to see Spanish music stand on its own in American culture, we understand the importance of this wave of collaborations. In the last few months we have seen Nicki Minaj team up with Bad Bunny and Farruko on their “Krippy Kush” remix, while dominicana Amara La Negra rise to fame while fiercely embracing her Afro-Latina identity on Love and Hip Hop: Miami. What we love about Amara La Negra is that she refuses to take tired old stereotypes of what it means to be Latina sitting down, and she constantly fights against what has come to be expected as the “Latina look” in mainstream pop culture. Latina is NOT a race and she’s not about to let you forget that. Ever.
Post Malone, Nicky Jam and Ozuna teamed up for the remix of the smash hit “Rockstar,” right before Cardi B (of Trinidadian and Dominican descent herself) and Ozuna blew up the internet with their single “La Modelo.” Cardi B unapologetically sings and raps in both English and Spanish and also refuses to pick a side when asked about her identity. She’s Black AND Latina and won’t let anybody force her to pick a side either. Just through their very existence and visibility, Cardi B and Amara are showing us what can happen when we come together and focus on our similarities instead of our differences.
Hip-hop has always been a platform for Black and brown brothers and sisters to express themselves and tell their stories. It is raw, real, law breaking, and life saving. For a long time, it was for the underdogs, the forgotten, and the underestimated … it was for us. While many of our favorite rappers can no longer relate to the struggle, they still know the odds our communities are facing.
Today, we find ourselves living in the middle of racial tensions with a presidential administration that shamelessly disregards Black and Brown lives and minimizes our contributions, all while putting our future at risk. To see both communities not only thrive, but welcome each other and work together is reassuring, empowering, and a reminder of what we can do when we let crisis unite us. Get talented people, mix their good intentions with some witty lyrics and a hard beat and we got ourselves hit after hit for both the Black and Brown community. There’s no other way to win and we’re here for it.