Rosalía is regularly identified as Latina/x in mainstream media but the Latinx community isn’t having it. In her latest interview with Billboard, Rosalía was asked about the criticism she’s received for being “not flamenco enough” or “not Latina enough” for Latin music — to which the Spanish responded that these “barriers” don’t exist.
“Languages are like musical colors, like instruments you can choose. Today, musical barriers, like genres, are so diluted that they don’t really exist,” she told Billboard.
While she speaks Spanish, the issue with the Latinx identifier is that she’s from Spain meaning she can’t be considered Latina since that refers to Latin America.
“First of all, I was born speaking Spanish. My father is from Asturias [in northwestern Spain]. My great-grandfather is Cuban. My mother is Catalana [from Catalonia, an autonomous region in northeast Spain]. I grew up speaking Catalan and Spanish at home, and I have always listened to music in English. So it’s natural for me to sing in these languages,” she said.
Born in Catalonia, Spain, Rosalía is a two-time Latin Grammy winner who came out with El Mal Querer in November of last year, debuting at #1.
Billboard reports she’s the third female “Latin artist” to perform at the MTV Video Music Awards following Shakira and Jennifer Lopez. There’s no denying her appeal or success but it’s evident that the nuances of Latinx versus Hispanic culture are not recognized in the mainstream.
Much like how Brazilians are often not seen as Latinx because they speak Portuguese, though they are in Latin America, Spanish artists like Enrique Iglesias have often been identified simply as Latino/a. Her collaborations with artists like J Balvin (Colombian) and Ozuna (Puerto Rico) means that she’s often lumped together with Latinx artists and she says that for her, music and cultures are all intertwined.
She's from Spain. She's Spanish. You could even say "Hispanic" which technically describes people from a Spanish-speaking country.
Latino/a/x specifically describes people from Latin America (including Brazil and parts of the Caribbean).
— Gabe González (@gaybonez) July 27, 2019
“Today, all cultures are connected, and it’s something beautiful and worthy of celebration. Flamenco and my country always have been connected with Latin America. The flamenco cantes de ida y vuelta are a reflection of that: milongas, la guajira, la colombiana. They are considered to be of the flamenco tradition, but you can clearly feel Latin America’s presence,” she told Billboard.
Cultures are connected as a result of colonialism when colonized areas including Latin America were known as “New Spain” and many indigenous communities were slaughtered. While Rosalía’s perspective aims at unity, as a public figure with a large platform many Latinx would prefer she publicly right the media’s wrongs.
When she appeared on the cover of Vogue Mexico with the headline “20 artistas latinos,” Latinx twitter blew up.
Rosalía herself discussed the distinction in a previous interview with Fader saying, “If Latin music is music made in Spanish, then my music is part of Latin music. But I do know that if I say I’m a Latina artist, that’s not correct, is it?”