On the 29th of September 2017, to the shock of the world Beyoncé released an Instagram post announcing her collaboration with the break out Reggaetonero J Balvin from Medellín Colombia on his number one hit ‘Mi Gente’ alongside renowned French-Mauritian DJ Willy William.
Beyoncé announced that the funds produced by the song will be donated to the relief efforts in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean after Hurricane Maria and also Mexico after catastrophic earthquakes hit the North American country. So shortly after the worldwide phenomenon ‘Despacito,’ which took the world by storm and after Justin Bieber’s collaboration with the Puerto Rican stars Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee, Beyoncé followed in the young star’s footsteps by jumping onto a Spanish language track and singing in Spanish.
Reportedly J Balvin ‘almost passed out’ when Beyoncé agreed to collaborate with him after waiting only two days for his request to be accepted. Close sources to the ‘Crazy in Love’ star have stated that her reasoning behind her desire to collaborate with J Balvin was due to her daughter Blue’s love for his music. Beyoncé and her daughter were described to have gone crazy for the song listening to it together from sun rise to sun down. The track is a typical Latin American track with high energy and the two artists interchanging lines with exceptional dynamism. The track has racked up over 42 million plays on YouTube
However, can it be argued that this is a sign that Spanish language music is here to stay? It seems that ‘Despacito’ has opened up a completely new market into the music charts, the UK and American markets have always been barred off from certain artists who sing their songs in another language. Which has led for many artists who have popular songs in one language to do an English translation to reach that same success in the Anglophone world. Nonetheless, this is becoming more and more unnecessary. Young people, old people, people of different sizes and races, are coming together and listening to music that they cannot understand, but are brought together by the intoxicating rhythm and beats the music provides to them.
Yet, this is not the first time that Beyoncé and other artists have done translations from their songs into Spanish. In 2006 on Beyoncé’s album B-Day, she included two of her most well-known songs ‘Listen’ and ‘Irreplaceable’ and translated them into Spanish. The unapologetically Bronx babe Cardi B also translated her popular trap song ‘Bodak Yellow’ into Spanish. It is clear that artists have always understood that tapping into Latin American/Spanish speaking market was lucrative. But, now more than ever English-speaking artists are continuing to show their interest in collaborating with artists from Latin America.
The music industry’s growing acceptance of the Spanish speaking world highlights the buying power of the Latin community in America. Despite the fact that, millions of people of Latin descent have been born and raised in the States, they are not losing their connection to their language or culture. Which in turn, is forcing popular culture to shift, to absorb the culture of the largest growing community in America. Although it could be assumed that due to the growing anti-immigrant sentiment expressed in the 2016 Presidential election against Hispanics, we would have been correct to assume that there would be a push back against Spanish simmering its way into aspects of public life in the States, however 2017 has proven all but the contrary.
To conclude, the growing popularity of Spanish language music and Spanish and Latin American culture throughout the world is only a positive thing. It seems that we are living in a climate where people are clinging to their culture, and seek to reject anything that is foreign or different to them. However, one thing that connects all people together is music, ‘Despacito’ and ‘Mi Gente’ are being played from London to Tokyo and people despite being alien to the cultures and language are still willing to rock out to the songs and just have fun. These songs are a symbol that we can unite, and work together, that we can forget our differences because all in all we are all a part of one race, the human race, and that we all have more in common than we may think.
Listen to the bouncy collaboration below: