Reggaeton acts call out Latin Grammys for lack of noms

Mesfin Fekadu, The Associated Press

Published Wednesday, September 25, 2019 5:08PM EDT

NEW YORK — Popular Latin performers such as J Balvin, Daddy Yankee and Maluma are lashing out at the Latin Grammys for dismissing musicians from the reggaeton and Latin trap world in the top categories at its upcoming awards show.

The Latin Grammys announced the nominees for its 2019 show Tuesday and the major categories — album of the year, song of the year and record of the year — didn’t include performers like Balvin, Daddy Yankee, Bad Bunny, Nicky Jam, Maluma or Ozuna, though the stars have dominated on streaming services, sold out arenas like Madison Square Garden, racked in millions of YouTube views and topped the charts with multiple songs.

The omissions were especially surprising since the Latin Grammys have 10 nominees in its top categories.

Balvin, who was the most nominated act at the 2018 Latin Grammys with eight, posted a photo of the Grammy logo with a large red “X” across it on Instagram on Tuesday. Words on the image read in Spanish: “Without reggaeton, there’s no Latin Grammys.”

“For the culture and movement,” Balvin wrote in his caption. Others performers shared the image across social media.

The Latin Recording Academy said in a statement to The Associated Press on Wednesday that they followed “a strict voting process for the past 20 years” when it comes to its nominees.

“The members, through their votes, select what they believe merits a nomination. The Academy has never influenced their decisions, have always honoured, and respected their elections, even if there are people who do not agree with the results,” the statement continued. “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.”

Balvin did receive two nominations — his collaborations with Rosalia (“Con Altura”) and De La Ghetto (“Caliente”) makes him a double nominee for best urban song — though he was shut out of record and song of the year. His new album with Bad Bunny, “Oasis,” was not eligible for the 2019 Latin Grammys but qualifies in 2020. Songs and albums released between June 1, 2018 and May 31, 2019 were eligible, and the 20th annual show will air live on Nov. 14.

Nicky Jam and last year’s winner for best new artist, Karol G, earned zero nominations while other stars like Bad Bunny, Daddy Yankee and Ozuna were restricted to categories such as best urban music album, best urban song and best urban fusion/performance.

“Despite being nominated, I don’t agree with the way they treated the genre and a lot of my colleagues,” Daddy Yankee wrote on Instagram. “Remember one very important thing, your platform was not the one that created this movement. This goes beyond a prize. This is culture, credibility, relevance and RESPECT.”

Maluma, who won his first Latin Grammy last year for best contemporary pop vocal album and will headline Madison Square Garden next week, also received zero nominations. He had huge success with his fourth album “11:11,” released in May. He wrote on Instagram that he was disappointed with the academy, adding that he’s confused and doesn’t know what to think.

“The only thing that stays clear is that the biggest prize is to see your concerts bursting and a public that loves you, and identifies with you. I love you my people, but I can’t hide this feeling that hurts me deep inside. Congratulations to all of the nominees from my heart, it gives me a lot of happiness to see a lot of ‘parceros’ (Colombian slang for friends) there,” he wrote.

The drama at the Latin Grammys mirrors hip-hop’s longstanding issue at the Grammys, where rap and contemporary R&B stars rarely win in the top four categories, which includes best new artist. When Childish Gambino’s “This Is America” won song and record of the year at this year’s Grammys, it became the first rap track to do so in the show’s 60-year history. Only two rap-based albums have won album of the year — Lauryn Hill’s “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” and Outkast’s “Speakerboxxx/The Love Below” — while only four hip-hop acts have won best new artist, including Hill, Arrested Development, Chance the Rapper and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.

At the upcoming Latin Grammys, veteran singer-songwriter Alejandro Sanz is the top nominee with eight. Breakthrough performer Rosalia, who won two Latin Grammys last year, is second with five nominations. Both acts are nominated for album of the year, along with Luis Fonsi, Ruben Blades, Sebastian Yatra, Paula Arenas, Andres Calamaro, Fonseca, Ximena Sarinana and Tony Succar.

Pop singers Camila Cabello and Alessia Cara also received nominations thanks to collaborations. Cabello is up for record of the year, song of the year and best pop song for “Mi Persona Favorita” with Sanz, while Cara and Juanes’ “Querer Mejor” is nominated for song and record of the year.

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