There is a month left for the celebration of the Latin Grammy Awards, but the anger generated at his expense between Residente and J Balvin does not seem to have an end. The two exponents of the urban genre have been locked in for several days after the second called for a boycott of the awards granted by the Latin Academy. That is the official reason. But René Pérez’s aversion to José Álvaro Osorio –and vice versa– entails other issues of greater significance such as political activism, respect for the roots of the urban and the resentment of reggaeton musicians towards an industry that beats them as it fills up. the pockets with their benefits.
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Puppies against Michelin stars
The Latin Grammys were born in 2000 in response to the American counterparts and their underrepresentation of the Latin American sound and talent. They have 53 categories ranging from pop to jazz, rock, tropical and urban genre. But only the latter has caused sparks to fly between the two artists.
J Balvin, who this year is nominated for three awards – song of the year and best urban song for Water, the soundtrack to the SpongeBob movie, and best performance by Your poison-, has criticized that reggaeton is included under the label of the urban along with rap and trap and that it does not have a category of its own. That would increase your chances of getting more nominations. Or so the Colombian believes.
The Grammys don’t value us, but they need us. It is my opinion and I have nothing against the other genres because they deserve all the respect. But the trick is already boring. We give them ratings but they don’t give us respect.
Puerto Rican Residente, former founder of Calle 13, has been tough in his attacks on J Balvin, whose music he has compared to hot dogs (hot dogs) and has accused him of wanting to compete with the “Michelin stars” of urban music. “You are telling people to boycott the awards and not to celebrate the artistic life of Rubén Blades, you bastard,” said René in reference to the Panamanian singer-songwriter who honors the Latin Grammy this year. “A guy who, unlike you, writes his songs and feels them.”
The truth is that each one has generated different relationships with the Grammys. Residente is an old friend of the Academy from Calle 13, with whom he won in 2006 in the sections of new artist, album and music video. The successes have continued, sometimes in the general category and others under the urban label, which this year J Balvin despises. René’s idyll at the Grammys has continued until last year, when he won the trophy for best rap song and best song of the year with Before the world ends and René, respectively.
“If the Grammys don’t value us, then why do I have 31 awards. I’m not urban, I don’t rap?”, Rene answers. For his part, Balvin has only four Grammys and all of them from the urban “subcategory”. “I would believe you about the boycott if last year, when you were nominated 13 times, you had not gone, but there you did not ask for a boycott,” Residente reproaches him in a two-minute video uploaded to his networks, which he later deleted on request of his rival.
“You have to understand that it is as if a cart of hot dog he’ll be upset that he can’t win a Michelin star. And don’t get me wrong, José, your music is like a shopping cart. hot dog, Everyone likes it, but when people want to eat well they go to a restaurant, which are the ones who win Michelin stars “, René continues. The metaphor has not only been fed to the networks, but has also been used by J Balvin himself to launch merchandising of his new album. But the final sentence of the video synthesizes the reproach of some artists in the sector to Balvín: “If you don’t have a pencil, José, you have to lower 20”.
The “purity” of the urban
J Balvin is one of the most commercial reggaeton artists, and not only because of his music. It has been the image of Nike, McDonalds, Fortnite or the aforementioned SpongeBob. At the same time, he is accused of not writing his own songs and not singing them – without the use of autotune. For all this, his contempt for urban etiquette and his claim to separate reggaeton from rap or trap has angered singers such as Residente or Yotuel, vocalist of Orishas. As a result of the controversy at the Grammy Awards, the former reminds him that there are other styles that are not even “on any list”, such as “salsa, bossa nova from Brazil or flamenco”.
I am interested in people knowing the type of person you are. Tell your old man that instead of comparing yourself to the economist Peter Drucker, as if you were an economics genius, to teach you values because not everything in life is business.
The Latin Grammys have praised Juanes, Visitor, Juan Luis Guerra and Natalia Lafourcade during these years. Most of them do not amass the fortune (20 million dollars) nor listen to them (60 million monthly listeners on Spotify) of J Balvin. Hence René Pérez’s criticism because he calls for a boycott “of the only mass medium that real artists have to promote their music.” “Pipers from San Jacinto from Colombia with a nomination can do a small tour to bring food pa their houses”, continues in a new five minute video in response to your marketing campaign.
Residente also compares him with the Puerto Rican Tego Calderón, for some the best reggaeton artist in history, speaker of social injustices and political causes, and less awarded than Balvin. Calderón only has a Latin Grammy for best urban music album for The one that is worth, is worth. “And you won’t hear Tego complain,” he replies.
“I am interested in people knowing the type of person you are. Tell your old man that instead of comparing yourself to the economist Peter Drucker, as if you were an economics genius, teach you values, because not everything in life is business “, has criticized him. “There are also the street codes, speaking up front, having compassion for others, the one I had when you called me crying when uploading the video asking me to please download it, and I downloaded it.”
Reggaeton as a political weapon
Another of the criticisms that underlie Residente’s message, and to which Colombian artists and personalities have joined, is the political lukewarmness of J Balvin towards the mobilizations in his place of origin. “My father taught me to love my country above all things,” he says. “That is why I had to write you the only message you dedicated to Colombia during the demonstrations, and a Puerto Rican wrote it to you,” the artist revealed. “Your country burning in flames and you pending to release an album.”
In July 2019, well-known reggaeton artists such as Daddy Yankee, Luis Fonsi, Ricky Martin, Residente and Bad Bunny led some of the demonstrations in Puerto Rico against President Ricardo Roselló. Sharpening the knifes, the song that René released with Bad Bunny, was chanted during the marches and was transformed into banners with phrases such as “Let all the continents know that Ricardo Roselló is incompetent, homophobic, liar and criminal.” At that moment there was no longer any doubt: reggaeton was a great speaker for the cause of Puerto Rico.
On the one hand, with this act they referred to the origins underground of rap or hip-hop, where the workers’ struggle, poverty, racism and police brutality were more present than in reggaeton, a genre that launched them to stardom. But, at the same time, they provided their international image and managed to put the protests on the front pages of the whole world, something that without their faces would have been much more difficult. And that J Balvin has not done now or ever with the protests in Colombia.