J Balvin Clarifies Frustration Over Lack of Reggaeton Artists Receiving Latin GRAMMY Nominations
By Elisa Osegueda
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J Balvin is speaking from the heart.
The 34-year-old singer took to Instagram on Wednesday to clarify his stance on the Latin GRAMMY Awards. On Tuesday, the Latin Recording Academy released the official list of nominees for their annual awards show that will take place this year on Nov. 14 in Las Vegas.
Following the nomination announcement, Balvin, along with other artists like Daddy Yankee, Natti Natasha, Anuel AA and more, took to social media to express their discontent over the lack of reggaeton and urban artists nominated in main categories like Album of the Year. The message shared across platforms read: “Sin reggaeton no hay Latin GRAMMY.” It was accompanied with a photo of a gold GRAMMY award with a giant red x across it.
The message, which translates to “without reggaeton there is no Latin GRAMMYs,” went viral and led to a heated and passionate discussion on social media about representation and inclusion.
“I know there’s a lot being said about reggaeton and the phrase ‘without reggaeton there is no Latin GRAMMYs,’” Balvin shared Wednesday morning in a video message. “It is a very strong statement. I’m taking the time to explain what it means because if I don’t, it will come across as if we think other genres or artists aren’t important. That’s not at all what we are trying to say.”
“What we want to say is, they [the Latin Recording Academy] utilize our media power because we drive the masses. But, that doesn’t mean that because we have such a strong following that our music is the best, or the best produced, or the best written. But, there is a history that dates back many years, where our genre has been denigrated.”
Balvin said he has a problem with how the term “urban” is used in different categories. It’s important to note that in 2004, the Latin Recording Academy changed the Best Rap/Hip-Hop Album category to Best Urban Music Album.
“There’s a big confusion when it comes to categories,” he explained. “There should be a rap category, a reggaeton category, a trap category and they shouldn’t all be under a blanket term like urban. Because at the end of the day, all music is urban because it comes from a personal story, places and cultures.”
“I don’t agree with using us for ratings,” Balvin said in reference to reggaeton singers being asked to perform during the awards show. “And then not going home with what we deserve in our own categories. I understand these are not the awards for ‘who sells the most,’ or the awards for ‘most streams,’ or the awards for ‘fan favorite,’ but there is a reality that we need to change.”
The “Mi Gente” singer went on to explain that Academy members voting for certain categories should be well versed in the genre they are voting for and be able to identify what makes a good rap or reggaeton album.
“Someone who knows a lot about salsa music might not have the right experience to know what a good reggaeton album is. The people who are experts in reggaeton should be the ones judging it,” he said.
“I’m doing this video so that there is no confusion," he concluded the video, which has garnered over two million views. "I’m not OK with the way [the Latin Recording Academy] is qualifying our reggaeton music but that doesn't mean that I’m not in agreeance with other musical genres or that I don’t support other artists that are shining bright in the Latin GRAMMY Awards space.”
On Tuesday night, the Latin Recording Academy officially addressed the social commentary.
“We respect and admire all the genres that compose the world of Latin music. In 2004, The Latin Recording Academy® led the charge for recognizing reggaeton (urban) in several categories, adapting to the evolution of music,” the academy said in a statement obtained by ET.
“The Latin Recording Academy has followed a strict voting process for the past 20 years. The members, through their votes, select what they believe merits a nomination. The Academy has never influenced their decisions, have always honored, and respected their elections, even if there are people who do not agree with the results,” the statement continued. “Nevertheless, we hear the frustration and discontent. We invite the leaders of the urban community to get involved with the Academy, to get involved with the process, and to get involved with discussions that improve the Academy. At its core, The Latin Recording Academy belongs to its members, from all genres, and our doors are always open.”
See what other artists had to say about the Latin GRAMMY nominations below: