Words by Victor A. Rodriguez
Two decades ago a Latina singer was told she’d never make it in Tejano music because it’s dominated by men. Lucky for us, she didn’t listen. She not only entered the world but became one of its greatest icons. Her name was Selena Quintanilla.
Two decades later history is repeating itself. However, this time it’s a group of Latina artists taking over another male dominated genre – reggaetón. For years the genre has often objectified women and prized material possessions above all else. Yet, slowly but surely, reggaetoneras are taking hold. However, what is special about this breakthrough is, they are now not just excelling individually, but also collectively. And they realize they are stronger together.
So, who are these reggaetoneras? Becky G, Natti Natasha, Anitta and Karol G, have become a group of Avengers of sorts. Each a superhero in their own right, but as a collective group unstoppable. As individual artists each has a unique backstory worthy of its own telling.
Mexican American singer/actress Rebecca Marie Gomez, known professionally as Becky G, started out as a pre-teen. Her family’s financial woes forced her to focus on a career at the earliest of ages. The result was teaching herself to play guitar at eight years old and jumping into the audition circuit. Breaking through when she recorded a reggaetón track in Spanish called “Mayores”. What would follow was a steady string of collaborations with reggaetón heavyweights such as Daddy Yankee, Bad Bunny and J. Balvin. 2019 saw Becky G release a long awaited solo album Mala Santa. Oh, we can’t forget that collab with a certain other reggaetonera also plying her trade – Natti Natasha – the two would go on to make another hit “Sin Pajamas”. Speaking of Ms. Natasha.
Natalia Alexandra Gutiérrez Batista, aka Natti Natasha has taken a different path to success. Her training came in the Dominican Republic at the School of Fine Arts in Santiago. By the age of 18 she headed to New York City with hopes of reaching greater heights. Indeed, she did, signing to Don Omar’s record label. There she recorded several tracks with Farukko, Daddy Yankee and Don Omar, himself. In 2017 came a collaboration with Ozuna entitled “Criminal”. The track shot straight to the top of the charts. The rest as they say, is history. 2018 saw the aforementioned collaboration with Becky G and 2019 also brought the release of her debut album IllumiNatti, which features collaborations with Sebastian Yatra and The Jonas Brothers.
Yet, the United States wasn’t the only place the ladies were doing their thing. South of the border, Larissa de Macedo Machado, aka Anitta was on the come up in her native Brazil. In 2000 she signed to an indie label and was off to the races, one more label jump would occur before landing at Warner Music Brazil. A string of singles and appearances would occur, and her musical footprint continued to increase. Then would come the collaboration with J. Balvin, “Machika” in which she would crossover. Since then she’s become a reggaetón star in her own right. Counting collaborations with Natti Natasha, Becky G, Maluma and countless others within her catalogue.
The final piece of this reggaetoneras quartet is Carolina Giraldo Navarro. Known professionally as Karol G. She got her start by participating in the talent show The X Factor. In 2013, she collaborated with Nicky Jam and released the song “Amor De Dos”, which reached over 100 million views on YouTube. Like her sisters in arms in 2019 Karol G also released her first solo album entitled Ocean and collaborate with Nicki Minaj on the infectious smash “Tusa”. Since then it’s been nothing but sold out concerts, awards show’s and accolades.
The artists openly acknowledge and encourage the union. Natti Natasha perhaps said it best. At a #WomenIntheLead Panel during the Latin Billboard awards. Telling the audience “It was more about not being afraid of doing certain things. Not being afraid of collaborating with other females, not being afraid of singing as a solo artist. That’s the key to becoming successful in this industry: to dare and to not be afraid.”
For daring, and not being afraid these reggaetoneras make up our Latinas of 2019.