[“MALAMENTE” by ROSALÍA]
Maria & Natalia: Hi!
Natalia: Welcome to “Guatever.”
Maria: I’m Maria Caamaño.
Natalia: And I’m Natalia Camino.
Maria: And today we are talking about something that’s…
Natalia: A little controversial.
Maria: A little bit spicy!
Natalia: But we have very strong opinions.
Maria: Yes, very… I think strong is the right word.
Natalia: Right? Look at me with my adjectives.
Maria: This has been kind of like… honestly, I think that it’s received enough attention, but I…
Natalia: It still doesn’t have a lot of attention.
Maria: Yeah, exactly. So, if y’all didn't know, on September 12th of this year, the VMAs took place. And one of the categories that was in there is “Best Latin Song.” So, the nominees for this category were Shakira and the Black Eyed Peas’ “Girl Like Me,” Maluma’s “Hawái,” Karol G’s “Bichota,” J. Balvin, Dua Lipa, Bad Bunny, and Tainy’s “Un Dia,” and Bad Bunny and Jhay Cortez’s “Dákiti.” And of course…
Natalia and Maria: Billie Eilish and ROSALÍA.
Maria: For, I don’t even know the song.
Natalia: I don’t even know the song
Maria: Literally. For “Lo Vas A Olvidar.”
Natalia: And so what’s interesting about this predicament in a sense is that, keep in mind this is the best Latin song…
Natalia: And one of the song nominations includes no Latin artists.
Maria: Literally. So naturally, that was the song that won.
Natalia: Yes. I think… So we want to dive deeper into ROSALÍA and kind of like what she represents within the Latin music industry of the appropriation of Latin culture by Spanish. And so I think it’s gotten to the point where we mentioned ROSALÍA and we’re… like some of our friends were confused.
Maria: No, yeah, literally.
Natalia: Because they're like, “Oh, I thought she was Latina.” And we’re like, “No, like, she’s not.”
Maria: She’s really not.
Natalia: She’s from Spain, which makes her Hispanic, but not Latina.
Natalia: But she has appropriated the culture to a certain point…
Maria: That’s just unacceptable. Honestly, me and Nat have – we’ve tried to record this episode probably like four times.
Maria: And honestly, it never sat right with us because we thought, Oh, people are gonna think that we’re trying to cancel her, that we’re trying to make it like a huge thing. It’s really not.
Natalia: We just want to bring awareness to this.
Maria: And like, have accountability. Because honestly, like, I love her music.
Natalia: No, like MALAMENTE was one of my most listened to albums. If you haven’t listened to it...
[Editor’s note: “MALAMENTE” is a song off ROSALÍA’s 2018 album El Mal Querer. The album is not called MALAMENTE.]
Maria: It’s beautiful.
Natalia: It’s beautiful.
Maria: But enjoying an artist’s music does not excuse their unacceptable behavior.
Natalia: And we felt like we could talk about this because many times like some publications or like certain people, either one, shouldn’t be talking and giving their opinion about this, based on their own identity. Or two, don’t understand the complexity of it fully.
Maria: Exactly. So we’ll break it down a little bit. As Nat said, ROSALÍA was born in Barcelona, which is in Spain – if you did not know. Which essentially makes her Hispanic. A lot of people don’t understand the difference between Hispanic and Latinx. So Hispanic means Spanish-speaking. So it essentially includes Spain and any other Spanish-speaking country, even if it’s not in Latin America.
Natalia: And then in regards to Latinx or Latiné or Latino/Latina – that’s an entire other argument and story – but that includes Latin American countries, including countries that don’t speak Spanish, such as Brazil, Haiti.
Natalia: There are a few others. But yeah, that’s the distinct difference.
Maria: Yes. And so I think that a lot of the time people have… they don’t understand the difference between it and I especially think that we’ve been seeing that with her getting so many nominations for the Latin category.
Maria: Which is also like, honestly, like me and Nat have talked about this. It’s complex because they obviously can’t make an entire category just for Spanish people when it comes to like, let’s say this is the MTV VMA’s for like the US, let’s say. It differs when it comes to like the Latin Grammys, but…
Natalia: It’s a complex issue that doesn’t necessarily have a solution and one, like ROSALÍA does produce good music, and she deserves recognition. But just the way in which the Academy or like the music industry operates, it in a way undermines the hard work of Latinos/Latinas. And because of this, we feel like it’s problematic.
Maria: Yeah. So, essentially, as we’ve already said, Billie and ROSALÍA won the Best Latin award for their song “Lo Vas A Olvidar,” which first of all, none of them are Latin, so why were they nominated? First of all. Second of all, this song did not deserve to win anyways.
Natalia: In comparison to the other songs nominated, ROSALÍA and Billie Eilish’s song barely ranked, I believe. And even if it did, it was not a huge success.
Maria: No, like I genuinely when I see it every time I’m like – I’ve heard it but it wasn’t something that I added to a playlist.
Natalia: Meanwhile, like “Dákiti” by Bad Bunny – all these songs charted so high.
Maria: Yeah! Maluma’s “Hawái” charted super high…
Natalia: “Un Dia”!
Natalia: Also, because the other songs are a lot more representative of Latin music, I think.
Maria: Oh, definitely.
Maria: So, another reason why me and Nat talk a lot about the ROSALÍA issue is because she loves to say that she’s Latina.
Natalia: She made this entire TikTok, where it’s like the audio.
Maria: Oh, yeah! “I'm an island girl…”
Natalia and Maria: “Me no speak-y English!”
Natalia: As if she is either Dominican or Puerto Rican.
Natalia: And that’s like, what she meant through the audio. And so like, even if you just read the comments, it’s very polarized…
Maria: We can read some of them if you want.
Maria: Some of the comments on this TikTok are… People said, “Colonizer vibes,” “Spaniards when they colonized Latin America: Only espanish!” Everyone was arguing, like fighting. Yeah, cause people were like, “Why are you so pressed? Like she can say… she can do whatever she wants!”
Natalia: And I think this is even like a debate within the Latin community. It’s just like, to what extent?
Maria: Yeah, like, I didn’t get annoyed that much at like the TikTok. I – the thing that, and Nat knows – this really made me mad. Um, Billboard has this series, called “Growing up Latino.” And they did an episode on ROSALÍA. And it was like, she was like, she says she feels 100% Latina because she feels at home in countries like Panama and Mexico. And people make her feel so nice. And like, okay?
Natalia: It’s one thing to like – obviously, she should feel welcomed in these countries, but another thing is to self identify.
Maria: Yes. I don’t want to say that like she’s not…
Natalia: Like discredited the challenges she…
Maria: She’s faced because like, obviously, it’s hard to make it in the US music industry just...
Natalia: In general.
Maria: Like, as someone who’s international in general. But I still think that like – me and Nat have talked about this. There’s a lot of Latino talent that deserves, also, recognition.
Maria: Yeah. And she’s taking up those spaces, like by adding her into these categories and by continuing like – this isn’t the first time she’s gotten like a Latin VMA.
Natalia: No, and like in 2019, like the Latin Grammys…
Maria: Oh, yeah!
Natalia: She swept, which…
Natalia: To the point where other Latino artists…
Natalia: Boycotted. Like J. Balvin, who was like…
Natalia: Like, I think Daddy Yankee even said something about it.
Maria: Yeah, I think so.
Natalia: And so like, these giant names within the industry…
Maria: …were mad because it’s true!
Natalia: These spaces were created for Latinos, and are being taken up by people who are not Latino.
Maria: Exactly. And also, like, it’s super annoying that she keeps getting placed in the urban category. Like the urban music category. And like, I wouldn’t say that she makes urban music.
Natalia: It’s similar to like – for like a more American reference – Tyler, the Creator being placed within the rap category. Like a lot of people were mad about that. I think it was in 2020 when this happened, and even he was like, “I’m in this category because I’m black, not because of the music I produce.” But for ROSALÍA, she keeps being placed in the urban category, which is a predominantly like…
Maria: A lot of urban music comes from Afro-Latino roots.
Natalia: And for a Spanish person, someone from Spain, to be nominated within those categories and taking up that space.
Maria: Yeah, that just doesn’t sit right with me.
Natalia: That’s problematic.
Maria: And it’s like, me and Nat have said it over and over. This is not to discredit her.
Maria: She makes really good music, and like she’s a great performer.
Natalia: I mean these past songs? Possibly...
Maria and Natalia: Hmm.
Maria: But wait, here’s the thing though. I think that her songs have decreased in value because she’s trying to replicate what she sees people like getting… like being successful in reggaeton. And like she’s trying to get into dembow now!
Natalia: So, ROSALÍA is classically trained in flamenco and the beauty of her music is the way in which she fuses these like traditional flamenco sounds with a more modern take. And her, I think, even moving away from that in a sense is like… like her music has, in a way, not been as good. Or not as original. Like, her music isn’t original anymore.
Maria: No, like, it just sounds really basic to me now. Honestly, like, even if we discard the entire thing about her identity, I just genuinely think that she shouldn’t be getting awards if her music is also just not that good anymore. Like, I’m sorry, but like it’s just not that good anymore.
Natalia: Maria and I have discussed this for a couple of years now, actually.
Maria: Yeah, it’s been years actually.
Natalia: And it’s honestly just like – it’s a continuous problem going on within the industry. And obviously, like, we don’t really have a means to solve it. But we do think it’s important to bring light to these types of situations that are always kind of like swept under the rug.
Natalia: Her winning and being nominated is a representation of a bigger problem that I think that needs to be discussed more. And obviously, like, we’re only really touching the surface of this situation.
Natalia: She also stole Rauw Alejandro!
Maria: She also stole Rauw! That one, me and Natalia will never be okay with.
Natalia: That’s where a lot of people were like this is the line.
Maria: Yes, she… That’s it. That’s where I draw the line. Good for her.
Natalia: I mean, get it, I guess.
Maria: Good for her. I mean, but… Damn!
Natalia: Not our man!
Maria: That one hurt me! Oh, no. Yeah. Um, obviously, me and Nat are not experts. We are not scholars! This is just our opinion.
Natalia: And our observations.
Maria: Yes. And definitely, we can’t solve anything. We have no type of power in the music industry. We are just two measly college students making a podcast.
Natalia: But yes, if you obviously have different opinions, we’re happy to hear it. And like, I think everyone has a different perspective on this. And there’s a lot of debate.
Natalia: Even within the Latino community.
Maria: Yeah. Cause I feel like there are some people who are like, and I’m not – this isn’t in any way accusing – there are people who are willing to be like, “That’s okay.” Some people – I mean, we’re not going to get into this debate because this is a huge debate. And I don’t think that also me and Nat have a say in what is cultural appropriation and what is cultural appreciation. That’s a whole nother debate that we won’t get into.
Natalia: And obviously, the lines are blurred in many cases.
Maria: Exactly. So it’s like, we can’t decide what’s right or wrong. We can just talk about what doesn’t sit right with us. But, we can at least talk about the music industry, because I do think that that is indicative of a whole nother problem.
Natalia: A bigger problem. Yeah, but yes, thank you for listening.
Maria: This was a little bit more serious than we usually do. Hmm.
Natalia: Let us know what you think.
Natalia: Leave your thoughts in the comments.
Maria: I – is this gonna be a recurring thing now?
Maria: No, but yeah. Thank you so much for tuning in. And yeah, if you guys have any comments, or would like to have a discussion about this…
Natalia: Let us know!
Maria: Reach out to me or Nat.
Natalia: And thank you so much for listening.
Maria: Thank you so much. This has been Maria Caamaño.
Natalia: And Natalia Camino.
Maria: For NBN Audio.
[“MALAMENTE” by ROSALÍA]