Heating Up the Latin Grammy’s

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After an arduous year full of work and great music, we are finally back again for the most prestigious awards for the Latin music industry. This year, the Academy is preparing the 20th edition of the Latin Grammy’s, and to celebrate we have some new nominees, big names, and some drama. 

Shoutout to all the nominees on the heavily disputed “best new artist” category: Nella, Fer Casillas, Greeicy, Paulo Londra, Burning Caravan, Cami, Chipi Chacón, Elsa y Elmar, Juan Ingaramo.

The Latin Grammy’s were born in 1997 after the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences decision to create a Spanish and Portuguese counterpart to fit the Latin Music universe. Right at the turn of the new millennium on September 13, 2000, the 1st Annual Latin Grammy Awards gave Carlos Santana and Mexican band Maná “Record of The Year,” “Song of the year” for Marc Anthony, and between all big names, rising superstar Shakira won “Female Pop Vocal Performance.”

Find the list of nominees here! 

Around the same time during the early 2000s, the Latin Academy and the world witnessed the birth of a music genre that would change pop music forever: Reggaeton. Reggaeton went from being underground to mainstream music, and Daddy Yankee rose as one of the “fathers” of the style – officially known as “The Big Boss” – and it was him who initiated an Instagram protest against this year’s Awards. 


The Controversy

As siblings that do not want to share toys, the Latin Academy and Reggaeton have grown together, and they share a story of hate and some love: some saying that the genre is “trash,” and the reggaeton artists saying that the Academy is benefiting from their world success.

Daddy Yankee shared a picture on Instagram that says “Sin Reggaeton, no hay Latin Grammy’s” (without Reggaeton, there are no Latin Grammy’s), protesting against the lack of recognition of the genre by the Academy. Yankee, backed by Colombian superstar J Balvin (and others), argue that the Academy has failed them in creating a Reggaeton category for the awards, after almost two decades of top-charting hits, and the creation of new sub-genres. 

After letting some fire burn and reading from various points of view, we can see that both contenders are to blame. Beginning with the accused: the Latin Academy, it is fair to point out that it has continuously undermined Reggaeton as not worthy of competing against other genres. 

The Academy

All styles that have enough artists to choose from and relevant following of audiences should be able to have their seat at the table. Times change, some genres decrease following and artists, and others grow, so it is not crazy to create/cancel music genre categories. 

Reggaeton has enough history, and artists in Latin America for voters, critics, musicians, ethnomusicologists, and others to trace its origins, establish it as a genre on its own (and not just “urban style”), and select the best quality music of the year to be awarded. Reggaeton artists are tired of being assessed under the “urban” and “fusion” categories, that compete against Hip-Hop, Trap, Rap, and they also argue that there is enough music out in the market to determine good vs. bad quality. 


But in agreement with the great journalist Leila Cobo, and legend producer El Chombo, the Reggaeton genre and its movement are to blame as well. Growing up on a defensive position against critics, Reggaeton artists and producers have failed to get involved in the Academy and make their way for “fair play.” J Balvin argues that they want to be fairly judged by musicians that know about Reggaeton, but they all have failed to move their influences and leverages to put the knowledgeable people in charge. Also, the Reggaeton genre has been changing through the years, and artists have allowed pop and fusion artists and sound mix between, causing a divert from the “pure” Reggaeton sound.

“Many of Reggaeton’s biggest names (…) admitted they’re not registered Latin Grammy voters. Many independent labels and producers have no notion of the process of submitting products and becoming a voting member, much less rallying the troops to support and vote for it.” 

Leila Cobo on Billboard Magazine

It is essential to highlight that THERE ARE MULTIPLE NOMINATIONS FOR REGGAETON ARTISTS for various awards and other broader categories like “urban fusion” where they compete against different smaller genres as well!! Big media outlets are writing that these artists did not get any nominations, which is FALSE. 

But of course, some people do not understand the real message of the protest in question and take advantage of it. Some Reggaeton artists, not happy for not getting any nominations, decided to mix up Daddy Yankee’s message and say things like no reggaeton artists were nominated, or that they deserved to be on some lists but denied for being Reggaeton artists. To all of these: it is fine to lament not being on the list, but there are many more “reggaetoneros” who worked hard as well that did not make it, so check your ego and hopefully next year, “Pretty boy.” 

We can always learn from the past to shape our future: the boycott of the 1989 Grammy awards by Will Smith and D.J. Jazzy Jeff did affect the Academy. Times have changed, media has changed, it is time to act accordingly and responsibly.

The 20th Annual Latin Grammy’s

Tune in on November 14 at 8 pm Eastern time to watch the 20th edition of the Annual Latin Grammy Awards! No doubt it will leave a lot to talk about afterward! 

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