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Bow Wow Threatens Revenge Porn And We All Should Be Disgusted

Low blow. 

Shad Moss, still known as Bow Wow, took an ex-lovers quarrel too far when he threatened to leak a sex tape between himself and former fiancée, Erica Mena.

Fueled by a seemingly innocent comment from Mena, Moss fired back undermining the media personality, insinuating she was promiscuous and had accumulated more than 500 sexual partners in her lifetime. Brushing the comments off, the mother-of-one shot back saying, "You mean the 500 bodies you stayed eating between my legs standing up little man."

Clearly emasculated by the clap back, the "Let Me Hold You" rapper went on Twitter begging fans to warn Mena before he used revenge porn to expose her.

 

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#BowWow still has words for #EricaMena 👀

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Revenge porn or "non-consensual pornography" is defined as the distribution of sexually graphic images of individuals without their consent. This includes both images originally obtained without consent (e.g. by using hidden cameras, hacking phones, or recording sexual assaults) as well as images consensually obtained within the context of an intimate relationship," according to Cyber Civil Rights.

The two began dating in 2014 while co-hosting the now-defunct BET video countdown series 106 & Park. Before the year came to an end, the two were engaged and even posed for engagement photos with People magazine in February 2015.  The couple called it quits nearly nine months later, leaving speculation as to what caused their so-called fairly tale relationship to end.

Speaking with Global Grind after the breakup, Mena hinted towards the rapper's behavior in the relationship. “I could have gone public about our breakup a month ago,” she said after the rapper began teasing images of him with the mother of his daughter Jovie Chavis.

“He does this to make headlines. Just leave me alone, I moved on; why are you still in your feelings? He’s literally posting about Joie to get on my nerves and it’s not working. He’s posting it to fuck with her head and to try to get a reaction out of me. Listen, I walked away silently. He’s an abuser.”

Mena revealed Sunday (Nov. 18) that the rapper was reportedly suicidal which led to the end of their relationship. “I left him after he tried to kill himself with my son in the house,” she said while sharing messages from one of the rapper's associates. “He’s been trying to link with me ever since.”

From an ethical standpoint holding on to explicit videos and joking about exposing them to cause emotional or physiological distress to a person is morally disgusting. But more than anything, it violates Georgia and Calif. Revenge Porn laws.

It also qualifies as a felony that could result in one to five years in prison and a possible $100,000 fine.

Degrading a woman for her sexual choices is one thing, but as the father of a 7-year-old girl, Moss' primary concern outside of being the host of Growing Up Hip-Hop should be showing his child how a man properly treats women. Releasing a sex tape with somebody who almost became her step-mother is nothing short of ridiculous.

Mena then responded noting that she had been in contact with Lisa Bloom, a popular civil rights attorney known for working with women who have been victims of sexual harassment.

 

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#EricaMena seems unbothered by this alleged tapey tape!

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What's most ironic is that last month (Oct. 2) Bow Wow released an emotional video to bring awareness to domestic violence, but is attempting to inflict sexual violence by threatening to release sexual images without the video participants consent.

It's a low blow which speaks to the rapper's mental health. It also showcases the casual toxic behavior that happens in the industry. The millions watching it all unfold on social media will more than likely follow suit.

READ MORE: Bow Wow Tackles Domestic Violence In New Video ‘Broken Heart’ 

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Will.I.Am Is Wrong About The State Of Hip-Hop

“It’s become the lowest-hanging fruit.”

That was Will.i.am’s assessment of hip-hop in an interview with Rolling Stone over the weekend (Dec. 1), and another troubling quote in the ongoing fallacy that rap is somehow a lower form of art. It’s the same trope many rappers – especially those who tend to steer towards white audiences – lean on when they want to “evolve” or “grow” as artists. Kanye West would rather design water bottles than dabble in the slums that are rapping. Tyler, The Creator wants to score movies because rap isn’t good enough. Miley Cyrus is going back to country because “Come sit on my d**k, suck on my c**k” and “Lamborghini, got my Rolex, got a girl on my c**k” music is just too vulgar for her.

Even if part of Will’s point, that the bar for entry into hip-hop is low, is true, the situation is more nuanced than that. The bar for entry has historically been low, which is how you end up with “Ice Ice Baby” running the world in the same year Ice Cube told us about AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted, or 69 Boyz’ “Tootsee Roll” doing the same while Nas gave us Illmatic and Biggie gave us Ready to Die.

If anything, the bar isn’t any lower, the net is just wider. Hip-hop has expanded so far beyond its Bronx house party origins that calling it worldwide feels like an understatement. If aliens are picking up Earth’s frequencies somewhere, there’s a good chance they’re hearing some hip-hop whenever they do. It’s that big.

In the ancient rap world Will speaks of, the one where he was part of a Los Angeles backpacker group that existed far, far away from the mainstream, rap was not a privilege, it was a necessity. Most of the black men and women who lunged towards rap did so as an escape and last resort. They did so from impoverished conditions, with few options and even less hope. Rap was a way out and, for some, the only way. It was truly life or death as their choices were either make it big by telling your story or return to your desolate conditions to live out the rest of that story. So they persevered.

This, of course, led to the golden era of rap, but plenty of sameness as well. Many of the stories were the same, even if the lexicons between regions were different. As rap continued to evolve, so too did the stories, and the perspectives that were introduced into the zeitgeist.

Eventually, we grew to a place where rap became a privilege and not a necessity. Now, after generations of rappers setting trends and generally being the coolest people in the room at all times, kids were aspiring to be rappers, not just resorting to that profession when they were out of options. Now, kids could study their favorites their whole lives and work towards being that. Suddenly, and perhaps unintentionally and with a ton of misinformation, rap was a desirable profession. Jay-Z rapped because he had to. It was that, or sell drugs and play that story out. J. Cole raps because he heard Jay-Z and wanted to follow in those footsteps. That’s growth of a genre of music and of a culture as a whole. That’s admirable, not scornful.

With that new influx of hopefuls came a whole new set of perspectives as well. If rappers in the ‘90s had to be the coolest and hardest mothaf**kers in the room, rappers in the 2000s changed that just a tad. Before then, rap only had Will’s perspective, the cool cousin who got all the girls and wore all the best clothes. When folks like Kanye started striking platinum, rappers could be Carlton as well.

In this era, the perspectives widened even more as the talent pool got exponentially bigger. As always, music and technology walk hand-in-hand as well. At the same time all those aspiring rappers began to come of age, technology advanced to a place that made it easier for them to try their hands at achieving their dreams. Computers made music easier to make, functionally not artistically, and the internet made it easier to spread it around. Before, if a young Chris Wallace wanted to make it rapping, he had to find a state of the art studio, pay large sums of money to record several songs, and then do the footwork towards getting attention from record labels himself. Now, Malcolm McCormick, a son of an architect and a photographer, only needed a computer, a microphone and an internet connection to rise to worldwide rapping fame.

In the world we live in now, we don’t get just Deebo’s story in rap–we get Craig’s, Smokey’s, Joi’s and Big Worm’s, too. Hell, we get Hector’s and the Pastor’s, too. And if we fall deep enough into a SoundCloud wormhole I bet we get Mr. Parker’s story, too. For all the complaints about Lil Yachty and the like, we still have Kendrick Lamar and his gravity. If you hate Lil Baby, you can find J.I.D. on the same playlist on your streaming service of choice. All of them exist, and none spite the other.

And this is all a good thing. Where hip-hop was once a specialty store, a Foot Locker of sorts where you could buy new sneakers and maybe even some socks and a shirt, now it’s a whole mall. You can get anything you need in hip-hop, as long as you’re willing to go find it. Foot Locker is still there, but you can go to Macy’s or PacSun, too.

With all of that comes plenty of music we don’t understand or value, but that doesn’t mean that music isn’t good or important. Mainstream has always gravitated towards a more accessible, or dumbed down sound when it comes to hip-hop. Some of the greatest rappers of all-time have capitalized on this trend and made careers out of that. That is why it’s called the music business. But that doesn’t mean the artistry isn’t there still. The current generation’s mastery of melody and cadence is just as impressive as the complexity and poignant lyricism of eras past. It’s just impressive in different ways. Jordan won one way, LeBron won one way, and now Steph Curry and his buddies are winning in another. But the game is still putting the ball in the hoop and preventing the other team from doing the same. The game is still telling our stories with an immaculate collection of sounds and organizing them into a song.

All of hip-hop comes from the same rebellious spirit that was encapsulated at those Bronx block parties in the ‘70s. All of it. Everything is about that youthful energy, and counter-culture. In taking the traditional, and changing it enough to invent something our own. Sure, we might not all enjoy the Lil Pumps and Tekashi 6ix9ines of the world, but somebody younger than us does, for sure. And sees it in the same light as we saw our heroes. Trend-setting, rebellious deities, speaking for us and telling our stories. They all come from the same place, even if they don’t sound the same. The bar is not lower, the net is wider, and the window into understanding the youth may be a little more opaque than it used to be. But that’s what age does to the eyes and the ears.

The constant degradation of hip-hop, its culture, its values and most importantly its sounds, is beyond problematic. The people who belittle the genre in an effort to hold it down, are the same ones who dabble in it every time they need a boost in popularity or the coolness factor. Hip-hop is the culture where they find their looks, their sounds, and everything else. We can’t let them work to depreciate the value of the culture they so often steal from.

It’s a classic case of gentrification, but this is a soil so pure it can’t be salted. This is a neighborhood so culturally rich, its natives can’t be run out of town even in the harshest of conditions, because we know once they buy up all this land they’re going to try to price us out. Don’t let them tell us hip-hop is the low hanging fruit when we know it’s the whole damn tree. If they can’t reach the sweetest of fruit at the top of the tree, that’s their fault. Not ours.

READ MORE: Stop Playing Into Female Rappers' Catty Feuds And Demand The Bars

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Stop Playing Into Female Rappers' Catty Feuds And Demand The Bars

“Real” rap fans, instead of playing into female rappers’ catty feuds, keep that same energy and demand the same bars expected from male rappers.

There is no such thing as “if you had fun you won” in the rap game. In its truest form, rap is a sport, and there aren’t multiple winners. Yes, multiple artists can bask in the same pool of success, but ultimately one wins that final gold star (especially when we’re talking about album sales, awards, etc). Especially in the realm of rap beef—the genre’s favorite game—there can only be one winner. We expect it. When it came to the latest squabbles between male rappers like Drake and Pusha T, fans debated over who won the war, but unfortunately, that energy has not been extended to the ladies of the game. Rap beefs between femcees, most notably Nicki Minaj and Cardi B, don’t foster the same reactions or expectations. It appears as though no one is seeking women to deliver diss tracks. We argue it’s an act of “anti-feminism” if they do. Instead, we marvel at the bi**hiness of their issues with one another, finding satisfaction in catty interviews and social media videos. But in the end, it’s a disservice to the culture and the movement of women who constantly ask for the word “female” to be stripped from the beginning of their titles so that it just says “rapper.”

Nicki and Cardi’s ongoing feud has been one of the most talked about beefs this year, but neither artist has been held to the same standard as their male counterparts of the same high-profile status. Their dual reached new heights last Monday (Oct. 29), when Nicki revisited her notorious fight with Cardi at New York Fashion Week on Queen Radio, offering fans $100,000 to uncover footage that proved Cardi was beaten senseless by Rah Ali. She also claimed Cardi had attempted to “stop her bag” by demanding other artists not work with her (which several other artists have accused Nicki of doing to them).

Nicki’s comments didn’t fall on deaf ears. Only hours later, Cardi B hit back on Instagram, recording a series of videos that addressed the various claims made by Nicki earlier that day. And it didn’t stop there; Nicki returned on Twitter with a rebuttal, before the two ultimately called a lukewarm truce.

READ MORE: Cardi B Responds To Nicki Minaj’s ‘Queen Radio’ Episode In Lengthy Instagram Rant

Admittedly, this might have been one of the most entertaining moments of the year. Hip-hop fans scrolled and cackled as they played Cardi’s videos one after the other before rolling over to their Twitter apps to see what Nicki had to say. Nicki’s line “baby girl write a rap” inspired a series of GIFs, as well as Cardi’s quotable: “how convenient is that.” But the point is not what was said, but where it was said. While both ladies spewed harsh remarks, none of it once touched wax. It was over social media, leaving the blogs—which both have protested in the past for writing salacious stories pitting women against each other—to tell their stories for them.

 

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This too much 😩😩

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More importantly, there was no encouragement from fans or media outlets to express their frustrations on a record. Instead, there were requests for the two to take lie detector tests (daytime TV host Maury Povich even offered to assist the artists in their dispute) or continue to air out their dirty laundry on the Internet. Legitimate brands participated in the mayhem; Steve Madden and Wilhelmina Models jumped on the first train to drama city to fuel the battle.

There’s a gross oversight in the hip-hop community when we as fans do not ask for the two most popular and historic female rappers to record diss tracks. When it came to Drizzy and Pusha’s feud in May 2018, we demanded a spar of (recorded) words and wouldn’t settle for anything less. Both artists delivered a series of diss tracks, including “Duppy Freestyle” and “The Story of Adidon,” but a majority of fans rolled their eyes when the two followed up their musical feud with interviews on LeBron James’ The Shop and "The Joe Budden Podcast." Twitter, especially, was flooded with figurative eye rolls, asking for the two to leave the gossip behind and thrust that energy into more music. The media even got involved—DJBooth published an opinion piece on Oct. 17 entitled, “Pusha-T Put It On Wax.”

READ MORE: Steve Madden Hopes Nicki Minaj And Cardi B Can “Reach Some Peace”

Likewise, Eminem’s battle royale with MGK also received massive support. MGK was praised for igniting vintage rap vibes with “Rap Devil.” Fans waited at the edge of their seats to see how Eminem would reciprocate. When Em hit back with “Killshot,” some fans posed the question of whether the feud would continue for another round. Others mulled over who won. So where was that energy with Nicki and Cardi’s eager spectators?

Of course there are male artists that we ignore as well. 50 Cent and Ja Rule’s drawn-out feud is one that only lives on social media. Fans have not encouraged their petty jabs; many insist they give it a rest due to the fact that no one really takes them seriously as rappers, especially since they have moved onto entrepreneurial endeavors. It would suggest the silence regarding Nicki and Cardi’s beef stems from the way we view both stars, as well as female artists and their rap beef in general.

 

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#PressPlay: #CardiB has more to say! (PART 2 👀🍿)

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Female rappers have been branded with the 50 Cent and Ja Rule stain from day one. They are the clowns of the industry until proven otherwise. Twitter never asked for an Azealia Banks and Iggy Azalea face-off or Azealia vs. Cardi because it would’ve been seen as a joke or petty. Fans just wanted to (smartly) discuss mental health in the music industry and show love towards Cardi in her moment of glory. They were even mum when Azealia went up against Nicki because, again, mental health is a serious issue.

To some, Cardi, Iggy and Azealia are not viewed as “serious” rappers. Cardi has mastered the art of producing a certified banger, but she is the relatable girl up the block. Additionally, Cardi is not a writer. She’s admitted to receiving help penning her own lyrics and therefore, should be automatically disqualified. Iggy’s missteps in the media and odd pairings in the pop sphere have left her in the dark, and although Azealia may be the most talented and technically-equipped artist of this generation, her commentary on race and blind attacks on the industry’s most beloved celebs (Beyonce, Lana Del Rey, Skai Jackson) have severely tainted her positioning on the respectability scale.

READ MORE: Azealia Banks & Cardi B Exchange Words Over Representation Of Black Women

Unfortunately, when the female artists finally reach that pillar of serious success, it somehow makes them exempt from competition, as if they are invincible. Nicki’s resume deems her an undisputed opponent. Her solid verse on Kanye’s “Monster” is immortalized, and since she’s been the only female rapper in the game for such a long period of time, everyone has steered clear of testing her. The only time you’d expect any support from a vet is when she’s up against another vet. “ShEther,” Remy Ma’s diss track targeting Nicki, garnered the appropriate reaction, but even then, the Barbz attempted to slander Remy’s character with Billboard stats and plaques, arguing that a response record was not required of an artist at Nicki’s level.

In the end, fans stay silent because they view one or more of the parties involved as jokes or because they are trying to protect a legacy. There’s a Mary Poppins’ bag of endless excuses why female rap beefs go unnoticed, but they all would suggest that there is a double standard happening in hip-hop. Come on, even the most elementary of rappers have drummed up buzz for musical back-and-forths. Lil Pump and J. Cole went tit-for-tat on the “F**k J. Cole” and “1985,” respectively, and fans were deeply invested.

Why pay for a Lie Detector Test @NICKIMINAJ... when mine is FREE! I’ll get to the bottom of this! https://t.co/7Cnryu8d22

— The Maury Show (@TheMAURYShow) October 30, 2018

Supporters have a responsibility to invest and hoist female artists onto the same pedestal as male rappers. Aside from watching them roast each other on social media or ask that they hold hands and hug it out for representation sake, request that they engage in a good ol’ fashioned rap beef. “ShEther” is proof of the reward that comes when you see a rap beef through. The track forced fans to have a debate, discuss and dissect bar-for-bar, so much so that it garnered the attention of the masses (it peaked at No. 3 on Billboard’s U.S. Bubbling Under R&B/Hip-Hop Singles.) The reception would’ve likely been 10 times as great if fans had put the pressure on Nicki to respond.

With Nicki being a seasoned artist, we would hope that she would play into the feud simply to demonstrate why she is the queen she proclaims to be on record. Or, we’d even want someone in Cardi’s corner to tell her to shut her opponent up the old fashioned way (sans the screenshots of stats reports). But even more disappointing than the two women involved are the countless Barbz and Bardi Gang members who have grown passive and rolled over as the current faces of female rap handled their issues like two high school girls using their posses to relay the message that they hate each other. Do better.

READ MORE: Ellen DeGeneres Pokes Fun At Nicki Minaj-Cardi B Feud

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Reggaeton's Leading Ladies Combat Exclusion With Unfiltered Sexual Expression

Women at the forefront of reggaeton's second wave are loudly embracing their bodies and their sexuality.

Karol G, Natti Natasha, and Becky G are the women at the forefront of the most recent wave of reggaeton, Latin trap, and urbano music. They’ve each carved a space in a genre that has long been hostile to female artists, dominated by men who’ve centered women’s bodies in every aspect of their artistry and refused to create alongside them. But for the first time in its history, there’s more than one woman with a seat at the table. These women are bold. Their lyrics are sexually explicit and their lusty expressions of desire uninhibited. They’re operating outside the cultural and religious norms dominating Latin America and the U.S.-Latinx diaspora. Their mainstream success seems to suggest that Latinx people as a whole are shifting towards something more inclusive and less harmful. They’re pushing back on the once-impermeable parameters of Latinx machismo and misogyny. Still, it’s crucially important to acknowledge that, at its core, the room for aberration that has been afforded them is the direct product of their privilege as conventionally attractive, non-black Latinas.

Though unexceptional in many ways, Latin American culture fiercely clings to orthodox conceptions of sex and women’s participation in it. Catholic values are tightly woven into Latin American society and are inextricably tied to moralistic ideas about chastity, virginity, and purity—ideas that serve to strip women of their right to bodily autonomy. In the end, women are reduced to either the saintly domestic type ideal for marriage and childbearing or the seductive sex object whose value is limited to just that.

In part, the hostility toward women that pervades the Latin American music industry is a direct reflection of these values. Artistic expression and political subservience do not readily harmonize. If other musical genres have been male-dominated, then reggaeton has been especially so. It’s a genre marked by the profane and the impolite, an intentional rejection of middle-class moral codes and puritanical attitudes. The grit, the nasty lyrics, the profanity, the sweaty perreo symbolize everything that “decent women” should eschew.

 

Reggaeton's Unspoken Heroine

The first wave of reggaeton emerged in the ‘90s and early 2000s and its ripples were felt throughout the world. Women provided the subject matter, the visuals, the sex factor, and the perreo, but, with the exception of Ivy Queen, were all but directly denied the opportunity to succeed as artists. Jenny La Sexy Voz’s contributions to the genre and relative anonymity are perfect examples of the ways reggaeton exploited women’s bodies and sexualities while barring them from benefitting materially from it. She’s the woman whose sultry vocals and sexy hooks shaped the bangers that catapulted the likes of Wisin y Yandel and Daddy Yankee to international stardom. She’s the “dame paleta” behind their hit “Paleta,” the “papi, dame lo que quiero“ on Wisin y Yandel’s “Rakata,” one of the only reggaeton songs up to that point to land on the Billboard Hot 100. Her vocal features, however, were never credited, her contributions went largely unrecognized, and more importantly, she never received royalties for them. Ivy Queen, the single woman to experience success comparable to that of the men who dominated the genre at the time, often talks about the struggles she faced as a woman who wasn’t willing to settle for anything less than standing alongside her male peers.

When asked about sexism in the Latinx music industry in a 2015 Vivala interview, Ivy Queen answered, “Honey, I have enough stories to write not one, but several books.” Her success, to this day, remains the most transgressive success story in the genre. She didn’t look like the women in reggaeton videos, and she certainly didn’t exude the kind of sex appeal that her male counterparts liked to capitalize on. But her talent was undeniable. One of her biggest hits, “Quiero Bailar,” was an ode to women who relished in their sexuality on the dance floor and felt no shame about it. It was also a nod to women who wanted to make clear to men the difference between a dirty perreo and an invitation to have sex. Even if not explicitly so, it was a feminist call for bodily autonomy and the need for consent and respected boundaries. Her mainstream success, however, remained an anomaly for many years, especially after the fervor that drove reggaeton’s success fizzled out.

 

Reggaeton's Pop Music Resurgence

Since the second mainstream wave of reggaeton, birthed by Daddy Yankee’s megahit “Despacito,” 2018 appears more open to the idea of women participating in the genre, not only as physical bodies and faceless hooks but as female artists creating alongside their male peers. Colombian artist and songwriter, Karol G, has been in the game for a few years now; her 2017 debut album Unstoppable reached the second slot on Billboard’s Top Latin Albums chart. Her video for “Ahora Me Llama” featuring Bad Bunny has over 600 million views on YouTube. She received two Latin Grammy nominations, including Best New Artist and Best Urban Song. The lyrics to one of Karol G’s 2018 singles, “Mi Cama,” playfully taunts a cheating ex-lover by letting him know that her bed’s been extra busy since she left him. She sings the hook “mi cama suena y suena” (“my bed screeches and screeches”) over the sound of creaky bed springs. During a concert, Karol G told the story of an interviewer who allegedly shamed her for what they deemed to be salacious lyrics, to which Karol G responded, “Lástima que la tuya no, y se nota.” (“It’s a shame that [your bed] doesn’t [screech]. And it’s obvious.”) Throughout the years, she’s remained vocal about her challenges with sexism in the Latin American music industry. “There are so many men and you can count the women on your fingers, and it’s not because we’re not here. There’s tons of talent.”

Mexican-American singer and actress Becky G has also made a name for herself in the reggaeton and Latin trap scene. She’s featured on Daddy Yankee’s “Dura” remix, which reached the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s Latin Airplay. Her single “Mayores” featuring Bad Bunny also topped the same chart. The song features a lyric that includes sexual innuendo: “A mí me gustan más grandes/Que no me quepa en la boca/Los besos que quiera darme” (“I like them bigger/So that they don’t fit in my mouth/The kisses that he wants to give me”). When discussing the buzz around that particular lyric with Billboard, Becky G boldly reaffirmed her commitment to defining her values on her own terms. “Every time someone would bring up the lyrics, it’s like they were trying to make me scared, ‘That’s not what you meant.’ No, that’s exactly what I meant. I was very aware of the moment I recorded the line. Who are you to tell me what makes me feel sexy, what makes me feel empowered?”

 

Reshaping Reggaeton's Masculine Landscape

Becky G asked Natti Natasha, a Dominican singer, and songwriter, to hop on the song “Sin Pijama.” It’s one of the only recent songs in the urbano genre to top Latin charts and not feature a male artist. The video for the song, a satire playing up tired stereotypes about hypersexual Latinas, has almost a billion views on YouTube. In a Vevo interview, the two dive into conversations about gender inequality in Latin American households, public resistance to women who own their sexuality, and challenging gender roles in relationships. Natti Natasha has collaborated with the likes of Daddy Yankee, Ozuna, Bad Bunny, RKM & Ken-Y and Don Omar, to name a few. Her feature on Daddy Yankee’s “Dura” remix is every part as sexual and gritty as Daddy Yankee and Bad Bunny’s: “Papi, si tienes el size, vente, enseñame lo que hay” (“Daddy, if you have the size, come, show me what you got”).

These women are not adornments in music videos or uncredited features to be capitalized on then pushed aside. They’re openly embracing their sexuality, often times objectifying men and reducing them to their bodies, and they’re doing so in shameless, indelicate ways. Undoubtedly, things have changed for some women since the early 2000s. But to ignore the confinements within which such transgression is possible would be remiss.

 

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GIRL POWERRR @nattinatasha 👸🏽💕👸🏽 We’re out here!! Muchas gracias to my @spotify @vivalatino famila for such a special night! 📷: @vivphann

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The question becomes, who is allowed to be openly sexual as an expression of freedom and affirmation and who gets shamed and chastised for it? The overlap among the women who’ve graced the Latin charts in the last couple of years should be apparent to anyone who’s been watching. Karol G, Natti Natasha, and Becky G are all openly cisgender heterosexual women. They’re conventionally attractive, thin, and most importantly, light-skinned non-black women—the kind who men deem worthy of respect and reverence even as they defy convention.

In a Red Bull mini-documentary celebrating the legacy of Ivy Queen, Chikki, an Afro-Dominican photographer, artist, and reggaetonera, highlights the racist double standards for female sexual expression: “When I was in high school, if I listened to reggaeton, I was considered ‘ghetto’ but if a white girl listened to it, everyone was like, ‘Oh wow, how sensual, how different.’ It’s good that [reggaeton] is reaching globally, and that it’s touching people from all backgrounds. But at the same time, it’s neglecting the people that actually started it. The roots of reggaeton are black no matter how you paint them.” Black Latin women are the essence of reggaeton—they are its creators and tastemakers—but they have yet to be represented or acknowledged as such by the industry. Instead, they remain props in music video backgrounds, consumed and discarded by artists looking to add an “authenticity” factor to their image.

The confines of Latinx machismo and sexual repression may be fluid for some Latin women, but certainly not all.

READ MORE: Pure Energia: Colombia’s Reggaeton Ruler J Balvin Returns

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