La Zista Calls Out Bad Bunny for Lack of Diversity


Watching reggaeton must be a lot like what the original djs, b-boys, and MC’s experienced watching hip hop go mainstream. The genre has come a long long way. Bad Bunny recently released his video for “200 MPH” featuring Diplo, and quickly racked up a cool 6 million views. Still, a comment made by Puerto Rican reggaetonera La Zista really stood out, “Hacía falta una Negrita ahí en ese group. Anyways dura cancion, duro el video.” [This group is missing a Black girl. Anyways dope song, dope video.] While it’s unclear if she’s talking about wanting to be in the video herself or the literal lack of Black women in the video, either option raises the question: When and how did reggaeton get so white?

Far from the working class neighborhoods of Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Cuba — reggeaton is now consumed by an entirely new audience and is made by an entirely new school of artists, most of whom represent a very specific image of Latinidad. It’s the same image used in all Latin media: light skinned Latinxs and white Latinxs — which, to be fair, is the norm in mainstream media of all types. But we can’t ignore its prevalence in Latinx media and how that has been used to erase the Afro-Caribbean culture reggaeton was born from. It’s important to remember that before artists like Maluma, Becky G, and J Balvin hopped on the reggaeton train it was considered “ghetto music.” Like hip hop, it discussed the harsh realities of the urban and lower class — drugs, violence, sex, machismo, and everything that happens in the streets — and like hip hop, it wasn’t taken seriously. In fact, it was disparaged. It was not long ago Mexican superstar Aleks Syntek said “Reggaeton music comes from apes.”

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But perhaps this is more of a commentary on colonized Latino ideals. Lots of Latin media tends to situate everything in proximity to whiteness and acceptability. It’s not likely that we’ll get a handle on that anytime soon but hopefully, these new school pop and trap Reggeaton artists will acknowledge the Afro-Latinx trailblazers that made their success possible and at the very least, include negritas in their music videos.

 

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