Maluma Addresses Latin GRAMMYs Controversy: 'What Did I Do Wrong?' (Exclusive)

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The 25-year-old singer opens up to ET about urban artists getting snubbed at this year's awards show.

Maluma was just as shocked as anyone not to have received any nominations for this year's Latin GRAMMY Awards

The "11 PM" singer was one of many reggaeton artists to be snubbed by the Latin Recording Academy when nominations were announced in September. Maluma, J Balvin, Daddy Yankee, Natti Natasha, Nicky Jam and more artists soon after spoke out in defense of their genre on social media. Now, Maluma is sharing more about the controversy.   

"To be honest, I don't feel like I'm a part of the Academy. Like, I don't know, they want me out," the Colombian singer tells ET while promoting his new collaboration with Hennessy. He won his first Latin GRAMMY last year for Contemporary Pop Vocal Album for F.A.M.E., and has received 10 other Latin GRAMMY nominations over the course of his career. His fourth studio album, 11:11, was released in May and has earned various nominations at other awards shows. 

"The whole genre, reggaeton music, we change lives. We're doing amazing things for the world, and I feel like they don't see it," Maluma continues of the Latin Recording Academy. "It's kind of sad because we all appreciate and we all respect the Academy. When we see the nominations, it's like, 'What did I do wrong?' Like, [it's] so random and so weird and not being a part of it, you feel like you're not part of the Latin Academy." 

"That's why we wanted to talk about it and see what's going on with the Academy," he adds. "I think it has to change."

The Latin Recording Academy addressed the backlash in a statement obtained by ET in September, stating "we hear the frustration and discontent." "We respect and admire all the genres that compose the world of Latin music," the Academy added, explaining that they've followed a strict voting process for the last 20 years, and inviting urban artists to get involved with discussions to "improve the Academy."

Balvin, who earned just two nominations for this year's Latin GRAMMY Awards, shared a passionate explanation of his frustrations on Instagram in September. 

"I know there’s a lot being said about reggaeton and the phrase 'without reggaeton there is no Latin GRAMMYs,'" Balvin said 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 spoke out about the confusion over categories at the awards show, and advocated for rap, reggaeton and trap categories to be separate, rather than included under "Urban." 

"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."

Maluma says his message for the Latin Recording Academy is simple. "I love them, I respect them, but I feel kind of sad that we're not there, because we're giving a good message to the world, and I'll say it again, changing lives," he tells ET. "We're inspiring, and it's incredible they don't see it. Like, what else do we need to do for them to see what we're doing?"

The 25-year-old singer does, however, have hope that things will change. 

"I think it's going to happen, actually, because we have to talk about it," he shares. "It's something happening inside the Academy, but I think next year, I hope we all will be there."

For now, Maluma is focused on other projects. He just finished filming Marry Me with Jennifer Lopez, is in the middle of his 11:11 world tour and is working on new music. "I have a bunch of things happening, good things," he reveals. "I feel like it's just the beginning and there's so many beautiful things [in the works]." 

One of those projects is his partnership with Hennessy, for which he's collaborated on limited-edition sunglasses, a cocktail kit, and more. 

"I think Hennessy is the perfect brand for me, because I went to Cognac in France and saw the whole process, how they do their cognac, and they work so hard. And I identified with them. I feel the same, I work very, very hard to make projects for my fans, so we are very connected," he shares.

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