Words by Melissa Sanchez
A number of major urbano artists have spoken out about a lack of representation in this year’s Latin Grammy nominations. On Tuesday the nominations for this year’s Latin Grammy Awards were announced ahead of a November 14 ceremony in Las Vegas. There were nominations for a number of reggaeton/urbano artists, including Bad Bunny, Daddy Yankee, and Ozuna in the genre categories. However, a handful of artists have spoken out against the Latin Grammys for not nominating artists from the genre in major categories such as Record, Album, or Song of the Year.
“Without reggaeton, there’s no Latin Grammys,” is the message posted on Instagram by artists such as Nicky Jam, Natti Natasha, Karol G, J Balvin. Writing on his Instagram, Balvin stated that the protest is “for the culture and the movement.”
Within hours, Daddy Yankee, J Balvin, Natti Natasha, Lunay, Anuel AA, Karol G, and many others, had posted fiery messages on their social media accounts, many including a striking image of a Grammy silhouette with the phrase (and hashtag) that read, “Sin reggaeton NO Hay Latin Grammy” “Without reggaeton there in no Latin Grammy”].
Daddy Yankee, who this year received a nomination under the Best Urban Fusion/Performance category, wrote “Though I am nominated, I don’t agree with the way the genre was treated, as well as many of my colleagues. Remember something,” he said, addressing the Academy, “Your platform didn’t build this movement” — a clear reference to reggaeton’s enormous worldwide success.
In response, the Academy released a statement on Wednesday saying that it does not attempt to influence it’s voting members’ decisions and welcomed more urban artists and executives to get involved in the process, essentially asking them to be the change they want to see.
“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. Together we can all make it work. Let’s do it!”
The exclusion of urbano at the Latin Grammys is being observed as a parallel of the long-simmering criticisms over how the English-language Grammys recognize achievement in hip-hop. Historically, rap artists have rarely been nominees or winners for top awards. Even genre-specific awards have been widely seen as bungled, such as the infamous 2014 episode in which “Best Rap Album” was presented to Macklemore for The Heist over Kendrick Lamar’s landmark Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City.