Karol G, Bad Bunny and more on breaking barriers in Latin music
"This is a movement," Karol G told ABC News.
Latin music is having a huge moment right now.
From Bad Bunny, who won best música urbana album at the 65th Annual Grammy Awards, to fellow Grammy-nominated artist Karol G, who recently won a Moonman at the MTV Video Music Awards on Tuesday for the song "TQG" with Shakira, many across the globe are gravitating toward Latin music.
"This is a movement," Karol G told ABC News for its special: "The Latin Music Revolution: A Soul of a Nation Presentation." "They don’t even know what we are saying, but they vibe with the music. That is special. I love that."
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Connecting others with Latin music
Karol G, who is known for songs like "Qlona" and "Mañana Será Bonito," has captivated fans over the years with her lyrics and upbeat music.
The singer grew up in Colombia and was inspired by her father to pursue music. When she became a fan of Selena Quintanilla at just 11 years old, Karol G knew she wanted to be an artist just like the late Tejano singer.
She released her first song, "En La Playa," in 2006, and since then, the singer has been able to bring people together in a way that some say is connecting people across borders, culture and language.
"Before you see everybody was listening to English music, even me," Karol G said. "But right now, people from all over the world, they [are] doing that, but with our music in Spanish."
The singer said some come to shows with signs that say they are learning Spanish through her songs. Karol G has also received notes from her fans about how her music has helped them.
"They write me things like every day with problems at their work, with their families, with their body, with their weight, how they see themselves," Karol G said about her fans.
"What Karol has is a lot of charisma," singer Nicky Jam told ABC News. "She speaks what she feels. She makes girls feel that she’s their best friend."
Using music to break barriers
Not only has Karol G made a name for herself in pop culture, the singer is also using her music to break barriers. Specifically, her music falls in the reggaeton genre, which is a Caribbean-style sound mixed with Spanish influences.
Historically, the genre has tokenized women, according to music critic Katelina Eccleston. But many like Eccleston say Karol G, who recently signed to Interscope Records, is setting a "precedent for what women are able to achieve" in music.
"All the time, the first thing was because you’re a woman, so this is not going to work," Karol G said. "This is not the way."
Singer Bad Bunny, who collaborated with Karol G on the 2017 song, "Ahora me llama," is also reaching many across the world with his music.
His "El Último Tour del Mundo" tour in 2022 became the fastest-selling tour since 2018, according to Billboard. The artist also made history this year at Coachella by becoming the first Spanish-language artist to headline the festival’s main stage.
Through his music, the Puerto Rican native has called attention to many issues that matter to him most. In his hit song, "El Apagón," the artist puts a spotlight on the blackouts people experience in Puerto Rico, especially after the catastrophic Hurricane Maria in 2017. In 2019, Bad Bunny also dropped "Afilando Los Cuchillos" with Residente and iLe, amid civil unrest in the U.S. territory’s capital.
"Bad Bunny is at his core, an artist of resistance," Vanessa Díaz, a journalist and professor who teaches the course "Bad Bunny and Resistance in Puerto Rico" at Loyola Marymount University said. "That comes from his life growing up in a colony of the U.S., under extremely harsh policies that led to the current crises in Puerto Rico, and we see how that has impacted his music."
"He didn’t have to do any of that," Díaz added. "That’s what he’s choosing to do as an artist and I think it’s really incredible to see that evolution and to really study and understand that historical significance."
A new generation of music
With Karol G, Bad Bunny and other artists growing the fanbase for Latin music, some say it’s helping bring visibility to the genre while also educating people about social and political issues, and diversity and inclusion.
Gloria Martínez, the Colombian singer known as Goyo, is an example of an artist who is doing just that by using her celebrity platform to advocate for increased Afro-Latino awareness and representation.
"It’s so important for me to talk about Afro-Latino people and our history," Goyo told ABC News. "We celebrate our culture, in order to be able to open up spaces for others."
Goyo, who got her start with the Grammy award-winning group ChocQuibTown, has made a name for herself as one of the few Afro-Latina pop stars. Prior to ChocQuibTown, she said she "didn’t see people" like herself and her community on TV.
Goyo is also committed to anti-racism work. In 2020, she organized an international alliance of artists and music industry workers called the Conciencia Collective aimed at ending racial and social injustice.
Her work earned her the Agent of Change award at the 2023 Billboard Mujeres Latinas En La Música in May.
"That’s a reflection of a lot of the work that she’s been putting in outside of her music," journalist Jennifer Mota said about Goyo. "The emotional labor and the intention that she’s put into really educating the industry labels, communities, listeners on the racism in Latin America, and also how we can really create change as a community."
ABC News' Sabrina Garcia and Jhasua Scicchitano also contributed to this report.