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Latinx Actors Are Not Here For Chicago's Whitewashed 'In The Heights' Rendition

The Latinx community has questions that need answers. 

Before Hamilton, esteemed actor and playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda created the Tony Award-winning musical In The Heights. The Broadway production set in the predominately Dominican-American neighborhood of Washington Heights naturally featured a predominantly Latino cast, but a Chicago rendition of the acclaimed show isn't playing by the blueprint.

Latino performers have been vocal about their frustration surrounding Chicago's Porchlight Musical Theatre's decision to cast a white actor, Jack DeCesare, as lead in a city that is 28 percent Latino and home to an array of professional Latino theater companies. DeCesare will take on the role of Usnavi, the indisputable star of the show originally played by Miranda during In The "Heights' tenure in New York City's prestigious theatre district, a grand opportunity that many Latino performers were excited to claim as their own.

"With [In The Heights], people felt excited, we felt like we had to show up and audition. It was important to be in a show that is from us, by us, with our own voice," Chicago-based actor Tommy Rivera-Vega told NBC Latino. "We were excited about it and then seeing that lead role go to someone who was not Latino, we realized that it was not an equal playing field. How can a white person act Latino better than a Latino?"

Many have joined Rivera-Vega in voicing this question, while deeming the theatre company's choice as a careless decision that promotes the deeply-rooted practice of whitewashing that often dilutes stories created by and for people of color.

"What seems to be Porchlight's problem is that they are taking the universality of Hamilton and trying to apply it to [In The Heights]," Princeton University theater professor Brian Herrera said. Heights is a universal story too, but told specifically through Latino voices. Trying to get to universality by skipping the specific voices misses the whole point. There is a reason why Heights was told with Latino voices in the first place."

Amid the controversy, the Porchlight Artistic Director Michael Weber released a statement to NBC Latino. "We are saddened that we have upset our colleagues, we acknowledge their concerns and we share their desire to help move the entire industry to a place of both better ethnic representation and more effective casting processes."

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Ethan Miller

Report: Streaming Services Account For 93 Percent Of Latin Music's Revenue

A new report by the Record Industry Association of America (RIAA) found that streaming is now making up 93 percent of Latin music’s total revenue in the U.S., Billboard reports. This amount is in comparison to the 75 percent made of all other genres in total in the U.S. by the various streaming platforms available. It’s estimated that now Latin music currently accounts for 4.2 percent of the total $9.8 billion dollars of the music business in the U.S. The figure has increased since last year, which stood at 4 percent.

"Latin music’s transformation from a physical-based business to a streaming driven one is even faster than the overall U.S. music market’s turnaround," reads the 2018 Latin music revenue report. Most of the revenue comes from paid subscriptions, which make up a total of 58 percent of the genre’s revenue.

These paid subscriptions all come from music/content streaming services like Amazon Unlimited, Spotify Premium, Apple Music, which all grew 48 percent year by year. Ultimately, the growth generated a cool $239 million. Revenue from other ad-driven platforms like YouTube and Vevo garnered a total of 34 percent, which made $93 million. The sub-category made Latin music 24 percent in revenue, which is three times larger than the average eight percent made off the U.S. general market.

The artists whom helped push forward the genre digitally within the last year have been: Ozuna, Daddy Yankee, J.Balvin and Karol G, among others. "Overall, the Latin music market is showing signs of strength again," the report stated. "We are excited for the next chapter of this comeback story."

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Nicky Jam And Ozuna's "Te Robare" Video Transports Them To Another World

Nicky Jam and Ozuna are on a mission to get the girl they want at all costs. A black and white montage serves as the backdrop for their playful new video for their latest single, “Te Robare,” which translates into the mischievous: “I’ll steal you.”

Throughout their performance, a bevy of beautiful women have brief interludes that go from talking in a vaporized infused telephone booth to breaking into a sexy dance group sequence. "We are very happy to be able to share this new single with the fans of the reggaetón genre, we are sure that they will enjoy this song as much as we do,” Nicky said in a press release.

Despite the video featuring a slew of women, it's worth noting that it looks sexy but classic. Jam prides himself in creating this type of imagery in his visuals. In 2017, he told Billboard, "Our audience is so broad that we have to make videos where women look beautiful and conservative and are treated with respect because the videos are seen by kids and adults," he said. "Other reggaetóneros who do what they do are targeting one audience. They don’t have the same responsibility we do."

In addition to releasing new music, Nicky Jam is kicking off his "Intimo Tour 2019" on April 11 in Chicago and will go through the month of May. Watch the video for "Te Robare" above.

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Ozuna And Darell Travel Through An Industrial Conquest Denouncing A Bad Love In "Vacia Sin Mi"

Gloomy cloudy skies are looming over an industrial like setting dotted with huge heavy duty trucks, as beautiful young ladies clad in yellow jumpsuits surround Ozuna in the visuals for his new single, “Vacia Sin Mi” featuring Latin trap artist Darell.

The new track is centered around the plight behind a romance gone wrong, and Ozuna is denouncing the love interest that did him wrong.  Through a hypnotic slow beat, he sings on beat about wanting nothing to do with her. He’s moved on and so should she. Darell assists the singer with brash vocals, which sound like the Spanish version of rapper Future’s signature raspy syrupy drawl.

“We want to show people a completely new concept, always looking to surprise the fans that have always supported my artistic career,” Ozuna stated in a press release.  

“Vacia Sin Mi” is the 27 year-old’s latest single off his forthcoming project NIBURU, which will be released under the record label Dimelo Vi. Just recently, the reggaeton artist made history by garnering 23 nominations for the 2019 Billboard Latin Music Awards.

We’re curious to see what new music and sound his forthcoming project will bring. Last year, he told VIBE VIVA about his previous album, Aura and what it represents for him. "Aura" is what one reflects in the heart, what you bring into the world, and what people want to learn from you,” he said. “In this situation particularly, it reflects what I have learned from fame, from all this going around my life. I interpreted all that in this album. I made international collaborations, which is something that didn’t exist in the past.”

Watch the video for “Vacia Sin Mi” above.

 

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