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Becky G & More Latin Urban Artists Come Together To Talk Being Latinx, The "Urbano" Genre & Collab Success

Becky G

Photo: Rich Fury/Getty Images for Billboard

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Becky G & More Latin Urban Artists Come Together To Talk Being Latinx, The "Urbano" Genre & Collab Success

Rising and megastars in Latin pop and urbano came together to chat about identity, the global growth of Latin music and other topics relating to what it is to be an artist in the age of social media on the last day of Hispanic Heritage Month

GRAMMYs/Oct 16, 2019 - 10:05 pm

Urbano music, or Latin urban, may have pop superstars like Drake and Justin Bieber singing whole versus in Spanish now, but in a panel featuring some of the biggest names in the genre, trailblazer Yandel of GRAMMY-nominated Puerto Rican duo Wisin Y Yandel, explained that he has spent the last 14 years of his career advocating for urbano music to get the respect it deserves.

"One of the hardest things for me was getting the genre accepted on the radio [and] on television. We have been here since the start when they didn't accept our music," he said on an intimate stage setting at the Neuhouse in Hollywood on the last day of Hispanic Heritage Month, Oct. 15, when asked about the challenges he's faced. "Unfortunately because of the content or whatever, for many reasons, but later we began to better the music, getting the songwriting down and that's when we started to see a change, but it was hard."

Yandel was joined by rapper/singers Wisin, Ozuna, and Farruko as well as singer Becky G to discuss identity, the global growth of Latin music and other topics relating to what it is to be an artist in the age of social media. 

In the time since the massive commercial success around Luis Fonsi's 2017 mega-hit "Despacito," artists in the reggaeton, trap and other pop-infused urban music genres are getting more global attention, thanks to YouTube and other online streaming platforms.

That wasn't always the case, Yandel reminded the crowd, but "we're here now."

When asked about the hardships she's faced as an artist before her rise in popularity, Becky G, who began rapping and singing in English at age 14 and is releasing her debut album under the Latin pop and urbano genres, said transitioning into Spanish-language music was a scary move for her. "Are they going to embrace me as one of their own?" she remembers asking herself. At the time she felt like she had to better her Spanish. Now the singer has had success singing alongside other urbano singers like Natti Natasha, who she featured in her hit "Sin Pijama."

Farruko, meanwhile, said the challenging part is staying relevant. Having fans continue to consume music in an age in which artists release music constantly online is key. "I think Farruko's point is really interesting," Wisin said when asked about the constant pressure to release music. "This is a content business. People no longer look for big names, they go after a good song." He noted that having an ear for good music that speaks to the culture now is vital to be successful.

On How Social Media Determines Success 

The panel artists agreed that social media has been great for their careers, allowing them to bring their music to the masses without having to physically be there, but as social media has grown to become a public sphere of opinions and critiques, balance is key. As an artist who was discovered creating covers of Kanye West and Jay-Z online, Becky G said social media definitely changed her life, but now it has also become an invasive aspect of it. "It's a blessing and a curse," she said. While she can connect to fans everywhere, she expressed that as a woman in the industry, some people take to social media to criticize her body and what she wears. "People feel entitled to speak on certain things."

Wisin later added that social media can be a tool that can help an artist become better. "The people that critique, some of the people that are the wisest about music are behind their phones," the "Escapate Conmigo" singer said. "Maybe a friend of yours won't tell you the truth because you are friends, but audinces [will]."

On Collaborating And Remixing

Several of the artists on the panel have been a part of successful remixes. Fellow panelist Ozuna said he felt like the remix is an opportunity to help advance artists' careers in addition to those of rising acts. 

"I think we are the genre that collaborates the most, the genre that comes together the most," the "Taki Taki" singer said. "We may have our differences, but when it comes to helping each other out, we always do."

Wisin added that collaborating is organically a part of the urbano genre. "Since the beginning, the genre began to sell itself as a project featuring several artists," he said, noting albums like Mas Flow- Los Benjamin by producers Tainy and Luny Tunes, which features various artists like Wisin y Yandel, Daddy Yankee, Zion and more. 

"The genre is huge now, but if we decided going forward to no longer collaborate and start to feed our egos, I'm sure that despite the best music we would make, the genre wouldn't have the impact it has now," he said. "Collabing has allowed artists outside the genre that didn't keep up with it respect it now. Huge artists like Enrique [Iglesas,] Jennifer [Lopez, Ricky [Martin,] [Luis] Fonsi, big artists from other genres decided to bet on our music, that's the urbano genre's credibility."

Becky G also noted the amazing experiences she has had collabing with women in the genre, even if people told her they were her competition. One of her biggest hits has been alongside fellow singer Natti Natasha in "Sin Pijama."

Despite other people's hesitation, she went with it because "I was thinking in a moment that was greater," she said. "There's a lot of hits, but a moment in history that had never been done before was the women working together without men, just reggeaton."

 

RELATED: Closing The Gap: How Latina Artists Are Combating Gender Inequality In Urban Music

 

On The "Urbano" Genre

While collaborating has helped bring eyes and ears to the genre, Farruko said award shows looking to celebrate the genre should not use it as an umbrella term to celebrate it in one category. "The genre has grown so much that we need to have several sub categories," he said, adding that having only one category has made urban artists them feel segregated. "There's trap, reggaeton, reggae-pop, reggae-tropical, there are different fusions within the genre and we can't put them all on one grill."

Wisin added that more urbano producers should get more recognition as a whole. "No one knows who they are and they have collaborated with big names."

The panel, organized by Valance Media, was hosted by Billboard's Leila Cobo during the week leading up to the Latin American Music Awards.

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Rosalía Announces First Solo North American Tour

Rosalía 

Photo: Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images

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Rosalía Announces First Solo North American Tour

El Mal Querer Tour, named after the Spanish pop star's latest album, will come to Los Angeles on April 17 in between her Coachella performances

GRAMMYs/Mar 20, 2019 - 12:25 am

Rosalía is set to perform at some of the most popular music festivals around the globe, including Primavera Sound in Spain, Lollapalooza (Argentina and Chile) and Coachella, but the Spanish pop star isn't stopping there when she gets to the States. Now, she has announced her first solo North American Tour with a string of dates that will bring her to select cities in the U.S. and Canada.

El Mal Querer Tour, named after her latest album, will come to Los Angeles on April 17 in between her Coachella performances. Then she'll play San Francisco on April 22, New York on April 30 and close out in Toronto on May 2.

 

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"I’m so happy to announce my first solo North American tour dates," the singer tweeted.

Rosalía won Best Alternative Song and Best Fusion/ Urban Interpretation at the 19th Latin GRAMMY Awards in November and has been praised for bringing flamenco to the limelight with her hip-hop and pop beats. During her acceptance speech she gave a special shout-out to female artists who came before her, including Lauryn Hill and Bjork. 

Rosalía has been getting some love herself lately, most notably from Alicia Keys, who gave the Spanish star a shout-out during an acceptance speech, and Madonna, who featured her on her Spotify International Women's Day Playlist. 

Tickets for the tour go on sale March 22. For more tour dates, visit Rosalía's website.

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Walk, Don't Run: 60 Years Of The Ventures Exhibit Will Showcase The Surf-Rock Icons' Impact On Pop Culture

The Ventures

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Walk, Don't Run: 60 Years Of The Ventures Exhibit Will Showcase The Surf-Rock Icons' Impact On Pop Culture

The exhibit, opening Dec. 7, will feature late band member Mel Taylor's Gretsch snare drum, a 1965 Ventures model Mosrite electric guitar, the original 45 rpm of "Walk Don't Run" and more

GRAMMYs/Nov 22, 2019 - 01:44 am

Influential instrumental rock band The Ventures are getting their own exhibit at the GRAMMY Museum in Los Angeles that will showcase the band's impact on pop culture since the release of their massive hit "Walk, Don't Run" 60 years ago. 

The Rock Hall of Fame inductees and Billboard chart-toppers have become especially iconic in the surf-rock world, known for its reverb-loaded guitar sound, for songs like "Wipeout," "Hawaii Five-O" and "Walk, Don't Run." The Walk, Don't Run: 60 Years Of The Ventures exhibit opening Dec. 7 will feature late band member Mel Taylor's Gretsch snare drum, a 1965 Ventures model Mosrite electric guitar, the original 45 rpm of "Walk Don't Run," a Fender Limited Edition Ventures Signature guitars, rare photos and other items from their career spanning six decades and 250 albums. 

“It’s such an honor to have an exhibit dedicated to The Ventures at the GRAMMY Museum and be recognized for our impact on music history,” said Don Wilson, a founding member of the band, in a statement. "I like to think that, because we ‘Venturized’ the music we recorded and played, we made it instantly recognizable as being The Ventures. We continue to do that, even today."

Don Wilson, Gerry McGee, Bob Spalding, and Leon Taylor are current band members. On Jan. 9, Taylor's widow and former Fiona Taylor, Ventures associated musician Jeff "Skunk" Baxter and others will be in conversation with GRAMMY Museum Artistic Director Scott Goldman about the band's journey into becoming the most successful instrumental rock band in history at the Clive Davis Theater. 

"The Ventures have inspired generations of musicians during their storied six-decade career, motivating many artists to follow in their footsteps and start their own projects," said Michael Sticka, GRAMMY Museum President. "As a music museum, we aim to shine a light on music education, and we applaud the Ventures for earning their honorary title of 'the band that launched a thousand bands.' Many thanks to the Ventures and their families for letting us feature items from this important era in music history."

The exhibit will run Dec. 7–Aug. 3, 2020 at the GRAMMY Museum

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Alicia Keys Unveils Dates For New Storytelling Series

Alicia Keys

Photo by Isabel Infantes/PA Images via Getty Images

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Alicia Keys Unveils Dates For New Storytelling Series

The artist will take her upcoming 'More Myself: A Journey' biography on a four-city book tour

GRAMMYs/Mar 5, 2020 - 04:07 am

After performing her powerhouse piano medley at the 62nd Annual GRAMMYs, R&B superstar, GRAMMY-winning artist and former GRAMMY’s host Alicia Keys has revealed that she will set out on a four-stop book tour next month. The storytelling tour will support her forthcoming book More Myself: A Journey, which is slated for a March 31 release via Flatiron Books and is reported to feature stories and music from the book, told and performed by Alicia and her piano, according to a statement.

Part autobiography, part narrative documentary, Keys' title is dubbed in its description as an "intimate, revealing look at one artist’s journey from self-censorship to full expression."  You can pre-order the title here.

The book tour will kick off with a March 31 Brooklyn stop at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. From there, Keys will visit Atlanta’s Symphony Hall on April 5 and Chicago’s Thalia Hall with Chicago Ideas the following day, April 6. The short-run will culminate on April 7 in Los Angeles at the Theatre at Ace Hotel.

Pre-sales for the tour are underway and public on-sale will begin on Friday, March 6 at 12 p.m. Eastern Time. Tickets for the intimate dates and full release dates and times are available here.

Keys won her first five career awards at the 44th Annual GRAMMYs in 2002. On the night, she received awards in the Best New Artists, Song of the Year, Best R&B Song, Best R&B Album and Best Female R&B Vocal Performance categories respectively. She has received a total of 29 nominations and 15 GRAMMYs in her career.

This year, Keys will also embark on a world tour in support of Alicia, the artist’s upcoming seventh studio album and the follow up of 2016’s Here, due out March 20 via RCA Records.

Brittany Howard, Brandi Carlile, Leon Bridges, 2 Chainz & More Join Small Business Live Benefit Livestream

Brittany Howard

Photo: C Brandon/Redferns/Getty Images

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Brittany Howard, Brandi Carlile, Leon Bridges, 2 Chainz & More Join Small Business Live Benefit Livestream

Proceeds from the event will be go toward loans to small businesses founded by people of color, with additional support to women-owned and immigrant-owned businesses, via Accion Opportunity Fund

GRAMMYs/Jun 16, 2020 - 04:13 am

This Saturday, June 20, artists including Brittany Howard, Brandi Carlile, Leon Bridges, 2 Chainz and more will come together for Small Business Live, a livestream fundraiser event for small businesses facing challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Proceeds from the livestream will go to Accion Opportunity Fund to support small businesses founded by people of color, with additional support to women-owned and immigrant-owned businesses.

“Entrepreneurs of color are denied credit more often and charged higher rates for money they borrow to fund their businesses. We need to accelerate support to underserved businesses in order to reach our full potential,” Accion Opportunity Fund CEO Luz Urrutia said. “We have to decide what we want our Main Streets to look like when this is over, and we must act decisively to keep small businesses alive and ready to rebuild. This is a fun way to do something really important. Everyone’s support will make a huge difference to small business owners, their families and employees who have been devastated by this pandemic, the recession, and centuries of racism, xenophobia and oppression.”

Tune in for Small Business Live Saturday, June 20 from 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. EDT on smallbiz.live. The site also provides a full schedule of programs and links to watch the livestream on all major digital platforms. To learn more about Accion Opportunity Fund, visit the organization's website.

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