meta-script10 Moments From The 2022 Latin GRAMMY Awards: Rosalía's Big Wins, A 95-Year-Old Best New Artist & Christina Aguilera Goes Ranchera | GRAMMY.com
Christina Aguilera and Christian Nodal
Christina Aguilera and Christian Nodal perform onstage during the 23rd Latin GRAMMY Awards

Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

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10 Moments From The 2022 Latin GRAMMY Awards: Rosalía's Big Wins, A 95-Year-Old Best New Artist & Christina Aguilera Goes Ranchera

Soulful, sensuous and visually stunning performances from Marco Antonio Solís, Ángela Aguilar, Anitta and others prove the vibrancy and multifaceted nature of Latin music.

GRAMMYs/Nov 18, 2022 - 04:09 pm

There’s still hope in these uncertain times of ours when a nonagenarian singer of sweet boleros can win a Latin GRAMMY in the Best New Artist category.

The 23rd edition of the awards not only gave audiences hope, but thrilled with a sprawling, vibrant banquet of sounds, colors and textures from more than 30 countries. The star-studded show demonstrated — one soulful, visually stunning performance at a time — that Latin music is not a single, monolithic genre.

From anthemic Mexican rancheras to bouncy reggaetón riddims and stark confessional ballads, these are the highlights of a ceremony that gave us many moments to cherish.

The Spirit of Salsa Lives On

At a time when salsa is often remembered as a beloved artifact from decades past, Marc Anthony deserves accolades for remaining true to the genre that made him a tropical icon during the ‘90s.

Backed by a seasoned orchestra led by keyboardist and producer Sergio George, Anthony performed a feverish reading of "Mala" — off his 2022 album Pa’llá Voy — heavy on the trombone riffs and byzantine piano tumbaos. "I’d rather sing than talk," the 54 year-old quipped when receiving the Latin GRAMMY for Best Salsa Album. "Mala" was also victorious in the Best Tropical Song category.

Rauw Alejandro Is Here To Stay

In a way, Rauw’s tight, intense performance celebrated his confirmation last year as one of Latin music’s biggest global stars. A medley including bits from "Desesperados" and "Lejos del Cielo," felt both smooth and urgent, and showcased his multiple talents as dancer, songwriter and vocalist.

The finale, a kinetic reading of "Punto 40" — his remake of the classic reggaetón cut by Baby Rasta & Gringo — proved that the Puerto Rican tastemaker has found a creative sweet spot. He is also listed as a contributor on MOTOMAMI, the Album of the Year winner by girlfriend Rosalía.

Christina Habla Español

Accepting her award for Aguilera in the Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album category, Ecuadorian/American diva Christina Aguilera remarked that she had wanted to record another Spanish language album since the release of Mi Reflejo in 2000.

The two-decade wait was definitely worth it, as her voice sounded deliciously gritty on her performance of rousing ranchera "Cuando Me Dé La Gana" with Christian Nodal, whose EP #1 FORAJIDO won the Best Ranchero/Mariachi Album race. Fittingly, their duet concluded with fireworks.

It’s Never Too Late — Seriously

As a rule, ties in award ceremonies leave behind a lukewarm aftertaste. In the case of this year’s Best New Artist, however, the joint victory of 25 year-old Mexican songstress Silvana Estrada and 95-year-old Cuban singer Ángela Álvarez was hands down the most emotional moment of the evening.

Both women recorded luminous albums marked by a deep reverence to the folk roots of Latin America. "This is for my dear homeland, Cuba — a place I will never forget," said Álvarez, standing next to her grandson, Los Angeles-based producer Carlos José Álvarez. After receiving an ovation, she left behind some inspiring artistic advice. "Even though life is difficult, I promise that with faith and love, it’s never too late."

An Album For The Ages

Released in March of this year, Rosalía’s MOTOMAMI is a cultural landmark a conceptual work of limitless imagination and wondrous stylistic plurality. It won awards for Best Album Of The Year, Best Alternative Music Album, Best Recording Package and Best Engineered Album.

The Spanish singer’s performance reflected MOTOMAMI’s own opulence. Wearing sunglasses and bright red lipstick, she played the piano and performed an achingly vulnerable "HENTAI," before launching into a gorgeous version of post-modern bachata "LA FAMA." The buoyant "DESPECHÁ," a recent single, found her dancing among the crowd, with a brief pit stop to greet boyfriend Rauw Alejandro.

Moving Urbano Forward

2022 has been a particularly creative year for Karol G. Her ongoing collaboration with fellow Colombian producer Ovy On the Drums expanded the urbano landscape with a cinematic scope.

Her deeply emotional performance functioned as a summary of her recent achievements. It began with a languid quote from "GATÚBELA," then quickly morphed into the familiar strains of mega-hit "PROVENZA," which she performed walking down the aisles of the venue, followed by her dancers. Back onstage, she beamed dancing to the progressive post-reggaetón beat of brand new single "CAIRO," with Ovy playing ominous keyboard patterns.

Past And Present Of A Mexican Legend

A prolific singer/songwriter with a Midas touch for timeless romantic hits, Michoacán native Marco Antonio Solís was honored as the 2022 Latin Recording Academy Person Of The Year with a special gala held the night before the awards.

Solís performed twice during the ceremony first as a solo artist with majestic readings of "Si No Te Hubieras Ido" and ranchera-pop "La Venia Bendita," and then a sentimental "La Cárcel" with former group Los Bukis. "You’re not only the pride of Mexico, but of all Latinos," enthused presenter Emilio Estefan Jr. Solís expressed his gratitude and underscored the relevance of younger artists carrying the torch of Latin sounds around the world.

A Brazilian Diva Channels Reggaetón

A native of Rio de Janeiro, Anitta conquered the mainstream on the strength of a cosmopolitan musical palate that embraces reggaetón beats and lush strains of Latin pop. Her performance at the Awards was appropriately electric, beginning with the booty-grinding "Envolver," then segueing into the tribal excesses of "Rave de Favela," her orgiastic collaboration with Major Lazer. Far from relying on musty bossa novas, the Latin GRAMMYs found in Anitta a glimpse of Brazilian futurism.

An Uruguayan Maestro Wins Big

A perennial Latin GRAMMY favorite, Jorge Drexler added seven trophies to his collection, including the coveted Record and Song Of The Year awards.

The veteran troubadour appeared genuinely surprised as the Latin GRAMMYs kept piling up, but anyone who listened to the lovely orchestral arrangements of his album Tinta y Tiempo could have anticipated this moment. A collaboration with Spanish enfant terrible C. Tangana, "Tocarte" is an electro-canción gem, and Drexler performed it with Elvis Costello. "Vamos, Elvis," he exclaimed, just as the British legend launched into a blistering guitar solo. In one of his acceptance speeches, Drexler showed his generosity of spirit by thanking urbano artists for disseminating the beauty of Latin sounds internationally.

The Future Is Now

Having Nicky Jam perform a moody rendition of "El Perdón" his smash collaboration with Enrique Iglesias is in itself cause for celebration. But the singer went a step forward and created an indelible moment by inviting four young artists to join him onstage. Xavier Cintrón, Valentina García, Nicolle Horbath and Sergio De Miguel Jorquera are recipients of the Latin GRAMMY Cultural Foundation’s Prodigy Scholarships. The pairing of veteran stars with talented new voices was magical.

2022 Latin GRAMMYs: Complete Winners & Nominations List

Álvaro Díaz Embraces Love Lost On 'Sayonara'
Álvaro Díaz

Photo: Waiv

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On 'Sayonara,' Álvaro Díaz Embraces The Sadness Of Love Lost

Known for his vulnerable style of reggaeton, Álvaro Díaz’s sophomore album ‘Sayonara’ says "goodbye to the happiness you thought you found."

GRAMMYs/May 22, 2024 - 01:29 pm

Álvaro Díaz has a twinkle in his eye — he knows he’s onto something special.

"It’s crazy that it’s an alternative album, but also the most reggaeton I’ve ever made," Díaz says of his recently-released sophomore album, Sayonara. "It’s both worlds. I have my fingers crossed that people are going to love it."

Díaz, who is 28, has been making music since he was a teenager. A constant creative force, he grinded for years as an independent artist, building a solid fanbase in Puerto Rico before breaking into the wider Latin urbano scene with 2021 debut, Felicilandia, which layered fresh pop melodies onto playful reggaeton and trap beats, exploring the euphoria of love.

Notably darker and much more experimental than its predecessor, Sayonara marks the end of that "happyland" feeling. 

"My story with ‘Felicilandia’ ended in heartbreak," he tells GRAMMY.com. "I was just writing about my life. It’s like a nightmare when you can’t stop thinking of that person. The usual Puerto Rican [reaction] to a breakup is like,'Don’t worry, let’s go to the streets!'"

The first half of the record soundtracks this feeling of party and abandon. Perreo tracks like the Feid-featuring dancefloor banger "Gatas Sandungueras Vol.1" nod to old school reggaeton, while Diaz and guest Tainy twist into ravey house beats on "Fatal Fantassy."

With an assist from Spanish indie pop star Sen Senra, "1000Canciones" marks a turning point in the album’s mood. It’s slow, reflective and poignant, with unashamedly heartfelt lyrics. "I went to the streets, and played 1000 songs that reminded me of you / even though I knew it was late / I took my phone to call you," Diaz sings in Spanish.

Lovingly nicknamed "Sadvarito"by fans, Diáz’s vulnerability stands out amidst a reggaeton scene dominated by party hits and swag. Even the biggest hits on Felicilandia— "Lori Party" and "Babysita </3" — were tinged with heartbreak; and fans will be reassured to see his signature fragility thoroughly embedded in Sayonara.

"It’s just how I feel, sometimes I feel empty, sometimes there’s a lot to say," Díaz says of the album’s changing moods. 

At the end of the album, Díaz considers trying to get back with his former flame ("Quizás si, quizás no," featuring Quevedo). But, he soon realizes it won’t work: "You know it’s not the same — it’s just me saying 'Sayonara,'" he says. 

GRAMMY.com spoke with Díaz over Zoom about why reggaeton is the perfect heartbreak genre and how ‘Sayonara’ is his most experimental work yet.  

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Sayonara **comes three years after your debut, Felicilandia. There are some similarities in the two albums’ artwork, but we can see something’s gone a bit awry/**

There’s an explosion at the left of the Felicilandia artwork. We were predicting what was going to come. I’m a fan of when artists do these little things, merge album covers, or make songs that live in the same universe. 

Felicilandia is the way to find happiness, Sayonara is saying goodbye to the happiness you thought you found. 

When you’re with a person you create a world together. But, todo se fue a la mierda. That world has gone. On [the artwork for] Sayonara, I’m looking ahead, but you don’t know my intention. I could try to save everything, or I’m just taking the last look. 

The track ‘‘Gatitas Sandungueras Vol. 1’ feat. Feid, has dark undertones, even though it’s a song about partying.  How is the track related to the album’s main theme of overcoming heartbreak?

Me and Feid put everything into the song. It’s based on the story of missing her: you’re blind; you’re trying not to think about her.  

Feid is like my duo, we always talk about making projects together, and our fanbase likes it when we work together. He couldn’t be out of ‘=Sayonara —he was in Felicilandia singing a sad song, and now he’s singing a party song, so it’s a total contrast. 

Same with Rauw Alejandro, who is on the track "BYAK," and was also on Felicilandia single "Problemón."  It’s special to have Feid and Rauw on both albums. We didn’t want to repeat what we did before, we wanted to go in another direction. 

The album mixes a lot of different genres, but reggaeton is definitely at the foundation of Sayonara. What artists were your core inspirations?

The selection of the sounds, and the beats, reminds me of the golden era of reggaeton in the 2000s. We even used the old Fruity Loops software, and searched for inspiration in [LunyTunes & Tainy 2006 album] Mas Flow: Los Benjamins, or the [2003 compilation album], Blin Blin. All those albums that changed your life in Puerto Rico. That’s why the reggaeton tracks have 2000 vibes, it’s what I listen to. 

You’re known for making an emotional brand of reggaeton. When did you first explore reggaeton’s potential to be more vulnerable?

My fans’ favorite songs are my most heartfelt songs. Maybe my most played song on Felicilandia is "Problemón," but on tour, the song people go crazy for is "Babysita." It’s a song I recorded in my house, but it’s bigger than all my other tracks. 

So, I know how the people who follow me connect with me. The way I talk about heartbreak speaks to a lot of people; it’s more relatable than how other people sing about it. They call me "Sadvarito," so it was always a challenge to find a way to bring that Sadvarito energy to reggaeton. 

What is your favorite reggaeton heartbreak song?

Damn, there’s a lot. It’s hard. 

My favorite reggaetoneros growing up were Zion & Lennox, they were my GOATS, and most of their songs are heartbreak songs. So, Zion & Lennox, "Solo Una Noche." 

There’s also a song on [Luny Tunes-produced 2005 compilation album] Mas Flow 2 which is my favorite ever: "Es Mejor Olvidarlo." That’s my jam. I used to blast that when I was little. I didn’t know heartbreak then, but I felt that.  

So you can cry to reggaeton?

You definitely can! Old school people may say you can’t, but, ey, reggaeton be having feeling. It will make you feel a type of way in a club. It could change your mood completely.

Connecting with fans is everything to you. On Sayonara, how are you hoping to reach people?

I have a really hard time saying goodbye. There’s a phrase: la esperanza es lo último que se pierde, I’m one of those types of guys; the last one who loses hope even if my world is going to pieces. I want to make her fall in love, like on the track "Quien te quiere como el nene." It’s saying I really love you, I want to fix things. 

The point of the album is for people to see what chapter they’re in. I’ve never been able to reach the last track, to finally be able to say Sayonara, but I know I will get there! 

One woman who listened to the album said it’s awesome to hear a man’s perspective — you go out and party, and then you miss her. She said, usually, for girls, it’s the other way around: you miss him at the beginning, then you go out to party. It gives it realism, boys really be like that. I love it when real life and music come together. I really hope people find themselves in the songs.

"Quien te quiere como el nene" is one of the more experimental tracks on the album, and unexpectedly goes into a drum and bass rhythm. How did that come about?

I did that whole beat with my mouth! I had it in my mind. I had the bass, but it needed a sound there. I don’t know why but I started making these sounds. I sent a demo to Tainy and asked, "Do you think you can do this?" Obviously, he can, he’s Tainy. Alongside Manuel Lara, my main producer, they took it to the next level. They are a dream team. 

You break from the reggaeton beat a lot in the album — "Fatal Fantassy" is very house. Tell us about these electro elements.

I like to experiment with different sounds. It’s harder for me to do reggaeton than do experimental things. Different tracks just come naturally. Tainy and I were listening to the album after we had 60 percent of it ready, and we felt like it was missing energy, it needed a bit more uptempo. So we did three sessions and came up with those ideas. 

I made a playlist with everything I want to do in the album, so I could say "I want a riff like this." I like to take a lot of ideas and work them little by little. My process is different to a lot of my friends who go to the studio and make three or four songs a day. I really like to feel like what I’m creating.  

You’re in Japan right now, and this album frequently mentions Japanese words, people and culture: from "Sayonara," "Kawa," "Majin Buu" and "Yoko." How did Japan influence you?

Japan is really important in this album, the names, the creation. I didn’t want it to be obvious, but it’s there, in the minimalism, the names, It’s magical for me to be now in Japan and listen to the album. I can say, damn this song feels like Toyko, this one feels like Osaka. Now I’m in Kyoto, and I feel "Quien te quiere como el nene" is definitely a song for this city. 

I’m a cinematographic guy, I create songs with movies on mute. I recreate the vibe, how I feel it would sound. Even movies filmed in Japan, like ‘Lost in Translation’—I watched that a lot and was inspired by that. That feeling of being lost, of not knowing what’s next. 

"Majin Buu" is one of the most heartfelt tracks on this album, and references a "Dragon Ball Z" villain. Why do you draw on that character?

It’s a 2024 alternative love poem! He’s a bad guy, but I flip and use it in a good way. 

I like to play with names, most of the time I have the name of the song. I knew I wanted to make a song with Majin Buu but I didn’t know how it was going to sound. The same day I made "Majin Buu," I made the track "Yoko."

Speaking of "Yoko," do you relate to the person who has been painted as the bad guy?

Definitely. When I watched the Get Back documentary about the Beatles on Disney+, I remember seeing Yoko every single moment beside John Lennon. They were inseparable until his last day. All the Beatles had a family, they all had wives, but it was Yoko who was next to John at every moment. 

It was a romantic way to say, I want you by my side like Yoko was with John Lennon. 

You're very close to your fanbase. Is there anything that artists can do to stay grounded with their fans? As you’re getting bigger, how do you manage the relationship with fans?

Fans made me. Especially during those years when my project didn’t have the light it deserved, my fans were there for me. It’s important for me to have a healthy relationship with them. 

I always try to put myself in the shoes of a 16-year-old and think what things could he say to me to make me fall in love with this project?, or what did this artist do that made me a superfan? I try to create experiences. In the run-up to releasing Sayonara, we did listening parties with 15 fans in different parts of the world, with exclusive merch. Seeing the reactions of the people is important for me. 

I’ve been making music since 2012. Some [artists] don’t know the hustle; they get big after two to three years. But [success] is not given, it’s earned. I get the rockstar mentality, but that’s not me. It’s impossible for me to lose touch with the fans. 

[Sayonara] is a celebration for me and for the fans. I want to do small shows in Puerto Rico, places I played when I was started. I love the shows where you can feel people’s emotions. When you get big, you kind of lose that. But to me, that connection is magical, I never want to lose that.

Kenia Os Unveils Her 'Pink Aura': How The Mexican Pop Star Let Her Feminine Energy Shine

Anitta performs in Sao Paulo, Brazil

Photo: Mauricio Santana/Getty Images

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Enter Anitta's Brazilian 'Funk Generation': 5 Takeaways From Her New Album

Anitta brand-new album 'Funk Generation' is the culmination of a long-held dream to bring Brazilian funk to the world. Read on for five ways Anitta's genre-bending album showcases an "energy that's very unique to Brazil."

GRAMMYs/Apr 26, 2024 - 01:31 pm

After establishing herself as a global pop star, Brazilian singer Anitta is bringing the music of her country to the forefront. On the just-released Funk Generation, the Latin GRAMMY nominee puts a spotlight on funk carioca — Brazilian funk.

On the 15-track album, Anitta sings in Portuguese, Spanish, and English over funk carioca beats, which are Brazil’s aggressive and hyper spin on genres like hip-hop and Miami bass. As with her previous releases, Funk Generation has elements of EDM, reggaeton, and pop, but the rhythms also known as baile funk are the star. The album represents a new era for Anitta, which she first kicked off in June with "Funk Rave," a single and video that captures the spirit of Brazil's favelas where funk carioca was born. 

Anitta later introduced Brazil's melodic funk subgenre to her global audience with the dreamy "Mil Veces." Now Anitta is expanding her funky world by bringing artists like Sam Smith, Brray, and Bad Gyal into her funky world.

"I'm going to accomplish making a lot of artists and people like funk," Anitta tells GRAMMY.com, adding that she hopes listeners "start embracing this rhythm that's very good, that invites you to dance, and that has an energy that's very unique to Brazil."

Funk Generation follows Anitta's rise to international stardom. Following a decade of making her mark in Brazil and later Latin America, Anitta went fully international with her 2022 album Versions of Me and the viral hit "Envolver." The album helped Anitta garner a GRAMMY nomination for Best New Artist in 2023 and a Latin GRAMMY nomination for Record Of The Year. She later told GRAMMY.com that "dreamed" of putting out a Brazilian funk album.

Anitta has made that dream come true with Funk Generation. Here are five takeaways from her genre-bending album, including insight from the Brazilian superstar herself.   

Anitta Said Making A Funk Carioca Album Was A "Challenge"

In March 2023, Anitta revealed that she was trying to get out of her contract with Warner Music, alleging a lack of support from the label. After parting ways with Warner in April, she signed a new deal with Republic Records and Universal Latin shortly after. It seems that her new label home offered the support she was looking for: She released "Funk Rave" in June 2023. 

"This funk album has been a challenge for me because it's not a rhythm that people are doing out there," she says. "It's something that’s very new that I'm going to introduce to people so they like it, listen to it, and try to do it as well."

She Wants to Continue To Breaking The Divide Between Latin America & Brazil

While Brazil is a part of Latin America, there still exists a bit of a cultural divide with Spanish-speaking Latin American countries because of language differences. On Funk Generation, Anitta aims to bridge that gap by featuring Latin music acts who embrace her  Brazilian funk vibes. 

On the sultry "Double Team," she is joined by Puerto Rican singer and rapper Brray and Barcelona-based artist Bad Gyal, who performed with Anitta for the first time at awards ceremony Premio Lo Nuestro in February. They get into the groove in Spanish with no problem alongside Anitta.

"It's been many years since Brazil has gotten to this international level, that a lot of people are listening to Brazilian songs, and I know I've worked a lot for this to happen," Anitta says. "More Latin artists coming to Brazil, who are curious and interested in making a career there.

"It's been very important for me to create this cultural exchange because the Latino countries and Brazil are side-by-side, but it's like there's a big barrier between them because of language," she continues. "With music, we can break through."

Sam Smith Embraces Funk Carioca For The First Time 

It’s not only Latin music acts who are getting in on funk carioca with Anitta. British superstar Sam Smith joins Anitta for the freaky "Ahi," and Smith's soulful voice soars over the sleek Brazilian funk rhythms. The collaboration shows how determined Anitta is to push the music of her country into the mainstream with Smith being one of most prominent pop artists from the UK to embrace the genre. 

The song also marks an important moment for LGBTQIA+ representation with Anitta, who is bisexual, teaming up with the non-binary GRAMMY winner.

Funk Generation Spotlights Brazilian Talent 

Anitta shares her platform with more Brazilian acts in the alluring "Joga Pra Lua," an EDM-infused funk banger that invites the listener to a block party where they get lost in the music. 

Translated to "play for the moon," the track is produced by fellow Brazilian DENNIS (who recently scored a global hit with the remix of "Tá OK" featuring Kevin o Chris, Karol G, and Maluma). Anitta is also joined on the track by Brazilian hitmaker Pedro Sampaio, who sings in Portuguese.

Anitta Is Looking Toward The Future Of Funk Carioca

Despite the few features, Funk Generation is an album where Anitta largely shines solo. She not only puts a spotlight on the Brazilian genre with this LP, but pushes it to new places. One of the standouts is the frenetic "Grip" where Anitta blends Brazilian funk with elements of Miami bass music that’s reminiscent of the ‘90s. She sings in Portuguese, English and Spanish throughout the song.

Whereas funk carioca played second fiddle to many other genres in her previous album, now the tables are turned in Funk Generation. She seamlessly blends pop with funk carioca in the fully English track "Love in Common" that could sneak those rhythms onto Top 40 radio. Anitta also finds a common thread between Brazilian funk, reggaeton, and Afrobeat in the multicultural banger "Aceita."

 The future of baile funk looks bright in Anitta’s hands.

Meet The First-Time GRAMMY Nominee: Anitta On The "Insane" Success Of "Envolver," Representing Brazil & Reshaping Global Pop

Women's History Month 2024 Playlist Hero
(Clockwise, from top left): Jennie, Janelle Monáe, Anitta, Taylor Swift, Victoria Monét, Ariana Grande, Lainey Wilson

Photos (clockwise, from top left): Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Coachella, Paras Griffin/Getty Images, Lufre, MATT WINKELMEYER/GETTY IMAGES FOR THE RECORDING ACADEMY, Paras Griffin/Getty Images, JOHN SHEARER/GETTY IMAGES FOR THE RECORDING ACADEMY, Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

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Listen: GRAMMY.com's Women's History Month 2024 Playlist: Female Empowerment Anthems From Beyoncé, Ariana Grande, Jennie & More

This March, the Recording Academy celebrates Women's History Month with pride and joy. Press play on this official playlist that highlights uplifting songs from Taylor Swift, Victoria Monét, Anitta and more.

GRAMMYs/Mar 8, 2024 - 04:44 pm

From commanding stages to blasting through stereos, countless women have globally graced the music industry with their creativity. And though they've long been underrepresented, tides are changing: in just the last few years, female musicians have been smashing records left and right, conquering top song and album charts and selling sold-out massive tours.

This year, Women's History Month follows a particularly historic 66th GRAMMY Awards, which reflected the upward swing of female musicians dominating music across the board. Along with spearheading the majority of the ceremony's performances, women scored bigtime in the General Field awards — with wins including Best New Artist, Record Of The Year, Song Of The Year, and Album Of The Year.

Female empowerment anthems, in particular, took home major GRAMMY gold. Miley Cyrus' "Flowers" took home two awards, while Victoria Monét was crowned Best New Artist thanks to the success of her album Jaguar II and its hit single "On My Mama." As those two songs alone indicate, female empowerment takes many different shapes in music — whether it's moving on from a relationship by celebrating self-love or rediscovering identity through motherhood.

The recent successes of women in music is a testament to the trailblazing artists who have made space for themselves in a male-dominated industry — from the liberating female jazz revolution of the '20s to the riot grrl movement of the '90s. Across genres and decades, the classic female empowerment anthem has strikingly metamorphosed into diverse forms of defiance, confidence and resilience.

No matter how Women's History Month is celebrated, it's about women expressing themselves, wholeheartedly and artistically, and having the arena to do so. And in the month of March and beyond, women in the music industry deserve to be recognized not only for their talent, but ambition and perseverance — whether they're working behind the stage or front-and-center behind the mic.

From Aretha Franklin's "RESPECT" to Beyoncé's "Run the World (Girls)," there's no shortage of female empowerment anthems to celebrate women's accomplishments in the music industry. Listen to GRAMMY.com's 2024 Women's History Month playlist on streaming services below.

Residente
Residente

Photo: 5020 Records

interview

Inside Residente's 'Las Letras Ya No Importan': How His New Album Shows The Rapper In Transition

"It’s an album that marks a musical transition for what’s coming for me," Residente says about his sophomore record, 'Las Letras Ya No Importan.'

GRAMMYs/Feb 26, 2024 - 08:07 pm

Puerto Rican rapper Residente wants to embark on new adventures.  

The artist born René Pérez Joglar has dreams of directing movies and acting, writing books, and making for pleasure — not to pay the bills. These goals reflect a new attitude, one resulting from time spent reflecting on the passage of time and the presence of death.

Residente's sophomore album, Las Letras Ya No Importan (Lyrics No Longer Matter), echoes this transitory period. An extensive body of work, featuring 23 tracks, with several songs surpassing the five-minute mark. Las Letras is an act of deeply intimate rebellion.

"It’s a very personal album, and I sought to connect with myself in many moments throughout," Residente tells GRAMMY.com. 

While Las Letras explores topics already a hallmark of his music — the music industry, political systems, Puerto Rico — it's also exceedingly vulnerable. The 28-time Latin GRAMMY and four-time GRAMMY winner opens up about depression and personal relationships, and confronts mortality.

Lead single "313" is inspired by Residente's late friend Valentina, whose voice appears in the first interlude. As Residente recounted to El País of Spain and GQ Spain, Valentina was a violist, and the last messages they exchanged on WhatsApp were at 3:13.

The song begins with a French verse, fulfilling Valentina’s wish, expressed in the first interlude, to do something in that language. "Les paroles n'ont pas d'importance," (words no longer matter), a female voice whispers, followed by a spectacular string arrangement.

Residente revisited older works during this period of creative transition, and the record features previously released tracks  "René," "This Is America," and "Quiero Ser Baladista."

 Las Letras Ya No Importan features many collaborations, with actress Penélope Cruz, Spanish singer Silvia Pérez Cruz, Rauw Alejandro, Ricky Martin, Christian Nodal, Arcángel, Jessie Reyez and others making appearances. Hip-hop icon Busta Rhymes is featured on "Cerebro," while Big Daddy Kane makes an appearance on "Estilo Libre" with Vico C.

GRAMMY.com spoke with Residente via Zoom about the process that led him to his second album, the symbolism behind "313" and the artistic connection to Spain.  

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

What inspired you to create Las Letras Ya No Importan?

It’s an album that marks a musical transition for what’s coming for me. It feels diverse; it also has songs with which I may not feel as connected [to] now because several years have passed since I made them. There are newer songs with which I do connect, which have a bit more to do with the way I want to start working on my music in the future.

"René" is part of this album, even though it came out four years ago. This is an album I was going to release during the pandemic. 

We have "René," which is very personal; we have "313," which I also feel is personal; then "Ron en el piso," [a song about the passage] of time, the collaboration with Nodal ("Pólvora de Ayer") also touches on the theme of time, of enjoying everything.

You confront death in several songs. In "René," you sang about losing a friend; in "Ron en el piso," you see your funeral; and in "313," you draw inspiration from your late friend Valentina. What is it about death that inspires you?

It’s something I’ve been going through in recent years. I lost many people I love, and it made me much more reflective when it comes to understanding time, the things I want to do, and the things I’ve stopped doing.

That’s why I’m also transitioning to cinema. I’ve always wanted to make films, directing, being behind the scenes, not being on stage.  I’m crazy about dedicating myself entirely to that.

I discovered acting now in a movie I starred in [In the Summers] that won the Jury Award at Sundance. When I saw it, I didn’t know I was the protagonist until I watched it. [The film] encouraged me to follow that too, and I’m going to want to act, direct; I want to dedicate myself to that for a while fully.

The album has a lot of life, and even though the lyrics no longer matter, you still have much to tell. You already said the album is very personal, but how would you describe it?

I can describe it in two years, not right now. It’s transitional. That’s what happened with Calle 13; everything was a musical and lyrical change from the second album onwards.

Residente represented a fusion of world music and rap. Now, in this one, I’m using a lot of strings, cellos, and double bass. I’m going to experiment a lot with different instruments in different ways. I’m going to be creative without the need to balance the album.

What’s coming next doesn’t have that artistic pressure. The only artistic pressure I want to have is to do the highest I can, which happens organically, not feeling pressured but naturally.

I want to do art as I did in college [at Savannah College of Art and Design]. I was never thinking about people or trying to convince anyone, and I was completely free, and that’s what happened with "313." I had the freedom I always wanted to have.

There’s substantial symbolism in "313," from the faceless dancers, the color pink. What was your vision with the visuals?

The dancers represent time. Penélope [Cruz] can represent many things, from life to Valentina, my friend, who inspired me to make the song. Penélope controls me, holds me, flies me, brings me back, and then I decide to control my life and time. That’s why I raise my hands, and everyone raises them, and time is running out, and then you see a sunset.

Sunset marks the end of something. The colors of the costumes also have some dusk elements. You can see at the end when I’m disappearing; it fades and blends with the end of the sunset.

These are decisions I make that are both aesthetic and technical. I put masks on the dancers because I liked it aesthetically. It also helped me speed up the process with makeup. I had to find creative ways to maintain the video’s aesthetics and make everything more agile because in filming, everything is time, and I had little of it.

What’s the idea behind the song "Las Letras Ya No Importan?"The arrangement is magical, with a numerical sequence from one to eight in different languages and a voice spelling of the alphabet.

That was the initial track. Before "313," I had this idea that I dreamed of with some basic notes, and it turned into something big.

There’s a voiceover of Penélope [Cruz] that says that we were eight [people in the studio], we are on an 8th street in New York, in studio B, which, if you look at it, it resembles the number 8. Everything connected with eight and [that number] also at a time level can mark infinity. So, I connected all that with the immensity of letters and languages. That piece’s runtime is five minutes. I think it’s pleasurable. I like that music, which resembles what I want to do.

Leo Genovese, an excellent musician and musical genius, made the arrangements. I greatly respect him.

In "Cerebro," you showcase your skill and vocal speed; what was it like collaborating with Busta Rhymes, whose own flow is iconic?

We met, and he loved the concept of what I was working on. He was a very humble, good person to me. After we met in person and talked for a while, he went to write after I sent him everything I had written in English.

I created ["Cerebro"] a while ago…. That’s why I tell you that the album has several concepts that I had to let go of because it was too much, and a lot of time had passed. I had a previous concept when I released the song "René" [in 2020], which is why it’s on the album. [At that time] I was working with the brain waves of different animals and people, and I made music with those brain waves.

This song ["Cerebro"] is part of that, and that’s why it’s called "Cerebro." The album was originally going to go that route. Then I didn’t do it; maybe I’ll connect to it in the future because I loved that idea.

What has Spain meant to you? The country has been so prominent in the trailers you’ve released and in the collaborations in your latest songs.

I've been making frequent trips to Madrid. This past year, I was there a lot; I was more in Madrid than at home. I traveled, wrote, and filmed videos like "Problema cabrón" and "313."

 I grew up with Spanish cinema by Almodovar and a bunch of directors I admire, and I wanted to collaborate with the actors I grew up watching in movies.

This album has many personal elements, and cinema is very intimate for me. I saw [Penelope Cruz] in [the movie] Abre los ojos when I was a kid; working with her now is a dream. The same goes with Javier Cámara and Najwa (Nimri) [who is in the film] Lovers of the Arctic Circle by Julio Medem. I saw all these people, and now being able to collaborate with them, be friends with them, talk to them is a dream. Everything is very connected to my life.

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