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Daddy Yankee, J Balvin, and Other Urbano Artists Call Out Latin Grammys for Exclusion

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  • Big names in Latin music like Daddy Yankee, J Balvin, Nicky Jam, and others criticized the Latin Grammys for not nominating urbano artists in the show’s main categories. 
  • While some have said this highlights the Latin Recording Academy’s long-running bias against urban music, others say urbano artists should take some responsibility for the lack of nominations since many are admittedly not registered Latin Grammy voters. 
  • The Latin Grammy’s responded by inviting the artists to “get involved with the Academy” and its voting process.

Nominations Released

Some of today’s most popular Spanish-language artists slammed the Latin Recording Academy this week, pointing to the lack of urbano artists nominated in the main categories of the 2019 Latin Grammys. 

The latest nominees were announced on Tuesday, which Academy President and CEO Gabriel Abaroa Jr. described as a “talented and diverse” representation of acts from across Latin America and the Iberian peninsula. 

However, many were disappointed to see that several of the biggest urbano artists were excluded from nominations for Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Album of the Year. 

The urbano genre essentially encompasses various styles like reggaeton, Latin hip-hop, dancehall, trap, and more. There is no doubt that urbano music has reached a greater audience in recent years with both solo projects and crossover collaborations. In fact, a report on the Grammy’s official website even notes that in 2018, urban Latin music dominated streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music, and Pandora. That same year, YouTube released its list of most-viewed videos, with eight of its top 10 being Spanish-language songs.

Critics say the lack of inclusion points to what they call the organization’s longstanding bias against urban music. While the reggaeton industry has voiced their concerns before, they decided to come together and do so much more prominently this year. 

Urbano Musicians Speak Out 

Artists like Daddy Yankee, J. Balvin, Nicky Jam, and others have taken to social media to share the message: “Sin reggaeton no hay Latin Grammy,” which means “Without reggaeton, there are no Latin Grammys.”

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Por la cultura y el movimiento !!

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J Balvin did actually earn a nomination for Best Urban Song, while Daddy Yankee scored a nomination for Best Urban Fusion/ Performance, however, the two still think the Academy could do more to honor their peers in major categories. 

“Despite being nominated, I don’t agree with the way they treated the genre and a lot of my colleagues,” Daddy Yankee wrote on Instagram in Spanish. “Remember one very important thing: Their platform was not the one that created this movement. This goes beyond a prize. This is culture, credibility, relevance, and RESPECT.”

Karol G, who actually won Best New Artist last year but did not earn a single nomination this year, said, “I want to make my support of [Daddy Yankee’s] words clear, independently from being nominated or not, without offending those who are nominated because it’s a moment they’ve worked hard for and deserve it.”

“I still feel the need to support this movement since it’s the only way to make a call that the academy, in the next few years, be more inclusive with a genre that works, is strong, revolutionizes and represents with big accomplishments for our Latin community across the world.”

Many have also pointed to Ozuna as another example of how urbano success isn’t translating over to the award show. The global megastar was just awarded four Guinness World Records for achievements like most videos to reach one billion views on YouTube and most weeks at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Latin Albums chart. But this year, the artist’s only Latin Grammy nomination was in the Best Urban Song category. Ozuna has not commented or joined in on the urbano movement at this time as he is currently off of Instagram to focus on his upcoming album.

Latin Grammy’s Respond 

In response to the social media call outs, the Latin Grammy’s released a statement on Wednesday saying, “The Latin Recording Academy has followed a strict voting process for the past 20 years. The members, through their votes, select what they believe merits a nomination.”

“The Academy has never influenced their decisions, have always honored, and respected their elections, even if there are people who do not agree with the results,” the statement continued. 

“Nevertheless, we hear the frustration and discontent. We invite the leaders of the urban community to get involved with the Academy, to get involved with the process, and to get involved with discussions that improve the Academy. At its core, The Latin Recording Academy belongs to its members, from all genres, and our doors are always open. Together we can all make it work. Let’s do it!”

The response hits on a note that some of the Academy’s defenders have also argued. Some say that urbano artists need to take some of the responsibility for the lack of inclusion since many of their biggest stars have admitted they are not registered Latin Grammy voters. 

Others say many independent labels and producers don’t understand the process of submitting a product or becoming a voter, however, at this point, it seems that both parties would like to address the issue to improve diversity in the future. Whether or not that actually happens will be interesting to see ahead of next year’s show. 

As for now, the Latin Grammy Awards are set to take place on November 14 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

See what others are saying: (MTV News) (Billboard) (Rolling Stone)




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M&M Announces “Progressive” Rebrand. Internet Asks: “Why?”

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The company hopes its characters will “reflect the more dynamic, progressive world that we live in.” 


M&M Revamps Candy Characters

The green M&M — the femme fatale of the candy world — is swapping her tall white gogo boots for a pair of classic sneakers as part of Mars’ new effort to make the brand more “inclusive, welcoming, and unifying.” The change sparked a swell of backlash online from those who think the plain Jane facelift is unnecessary. 

“M&M’S has been around for more than 80 years and this year the brand continues to evolve to reflect the more dynamic, progressive world that we live in,” the company said in a statement on Thursday.

“The refreshed M&M’S brand will include a more modern take on the looks of our beloved characters, as well as more nuanced personalities to underscore the importance of self-expression and power of community through storytelling,” the statement continued.

The company said it hopes for fans to notice an “added emphasis on the ampersand to more prominently demonstrate how the brand aims to bring people together.”

What fans noticed, however, was the fact that the green M&M is no longer, well, sexy. Formerly known as Ms. Green, her prefix was dropped and her poses are less flirty. The same happened with Brown, also a female, who had her footwear changed to lower her heel. The company wants the two to represent a “force supporting women.”

In character bios on M&M’s website, Green described herself as a “hypewoman” who wants to “see more women in leading roles.” Brown says she is “Not bossy. Just the boss.”

The other characters are getting new styles as well. Red, the macho leader, is going to become more friendly and collaborative. Orange is getting to lean into his high anxiety, admitting in his profile that he can’t leave the house without “panicking.”

Twitter Mocks Rebrand

But it turns out, many people were seemingly happy with the gender-normed M&M characters just as they were. Rolling Stone put out a piece asking that Mars “let the green M&M be a nasty little slut.” The Guardian accused the company of “slut-shaming” the iconic candy cartoon.

On Twitter, the redesign was met with even more criticism. 

“I will REFUSE to buy m&m’s until they make the green one SEXY again,” one person tweeted.

“They told green m&m she couldn’t go to euphoria high school anymore,” another person wrote. 

“Finally an M&M with mental health struggles,” someone joked about Orange. 

Others mocked it as an overall small and meaningless gesture of equality from a large corporation. 

“Who needs equitable pay, healthcare, voting rights?” One person tweeted. “That stuff is for chumps. What we need is Woke M&Ms to carry us through these tough times.” 

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (CBS News) (The Independent)

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Jay-Z, Other Artists, Sign Letter Supporting N.Y. Bill to Block Use of Rap Lyrics in Court

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The legislation aims to “protect all artists and content creators, including rappers from having their lyrics wielded against them by prosecutors.”


New York Senators Introduce “Rap Music On Trial” Bill

Jay-Z and a slew of other rappers and artists signed a letter this week in support of a New York law that would prevent rap lyrics from being used as evidence in court. 

The bill, titled Rap Music on Trial, was introduced in November by state Sens. Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan) and Jamaal Bailey (D-Queens). Rap Music on Trial aims to “enhance the free speech protections of New Yorkers by banning the use of art created by a defendant as evidence against them in a courtroom.”

“The legislation will protect all artists and content creators, including rappers from having their lyrics wielded against them by prosecutors,” a statement released by the senators said. 

If the law were passed, in order to submit lyrics and other creative works as evidence, prosecutors would need to present “clear and convincing proof that there is a literal, factual nexus between creative expression and the facts of the case.”

Hoylman, Bailey, rappers, and many other advocates believe that rap lyrics are often used unfairly in court.

“The use of rap and hip-hop lyrics in particular is emblematic of the systemic racism that permeates our criminal justice system,” Bailey explained in a statement.

Major Artists Sign Letter Backing Legislation

The letter signed by Jay-Z echoed those concerns. It was written by his lawyer, Alex Spiro, and University of Richmond Professor Erik Nielson. Meek Mill, Big Sean, Fat Joe, Kelly Rowland, and Robin Thicke were among the other artists who put their names behind the cause. 

“Rather than acknowledge rap music as a form of artistic expression, police and prosecutors argue that the lyrics should be interpreted literally — in the words of one prosecutor, as ‘autobiographical journals’ — even though the genre is rooted in a long tradition of storytelling that privileges figurative language, is steeped in hyperbole, and employs all of the same poetic devices we find in more traditional works of poetry,” the letter said. 

According to Spiro and Nielson, using rap lyrics allows prosecutors to “obtain convictions even when other evidence is lacking.” They also argued the strategy specifically harms young Black and Latino men, who are “the overwhelming majority of artists in these cases.”

Several high-profile artists have experienced this practice themselves. In their joint statement, Hoylman and Bailey pointed to a 2019 case where Tekashi69’s lyrics were introduced in court to compel him to become a government witness to avoid harsher sentencing. 

Per a report from Rolling Stone, the late Drakeo the Ruler was subjected to something similar while on trial for a 2016 murder case. Before he was acquitted of the crime, prosecutors attempted to use lyrics from his song “Flex Freestyle” in an effort to make jurors think he brought a group of armed people to a party to target the victim.

In the letter, Spiro and Nielson pointed to research that “identified hundreds of cases” where rap lyrics were exploited in court, noting that the genre has the “potential to be highly prejudicial.”

In one study they cited, two groups were given identical violent lyrics, but one group was told those lyrics came from a country song, and the other was told it was rap. Members of the group who believed the lyrics were rap “were significantly more likely to view them as threatening and in need of regulation” than members of those who thought the words came from a country song. 

“Nobody thinks Johnny Cash shot a man in Reno just to watch him die, or that David Byrne is a psycho killer, but routinely rappers have their lyrics used against them in criminal trials,” Hoylman said in a November tweet. 

“As these and other studies suggest, weaponizing rap music against its creators is racially and culturally discriminatory,” the letter concluded. “It is also an affront to the First Amendment protections that everyone in this country should be entitled to.” 

See what others are saying: (Rolling Stone) (Billboard) (The Gaurdian)

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Britney Spears Sends Cease and Desist to Jamie Lynn Over Book Tour

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Britney’s lawyer claimed that Jamie Lynn’s “ill-timed book” contains “misleading or outrageous claims” about the singer.


Britney Spears Slaps Sister With Cease and Desist

Britney Spears sent a cease and desist letter this week demanding her sister, Jamie Lynn, stop “referencing Britney derogatorily during” her book tour.

The two sisters have been embroiled in a heated war of words over the last week, largely prompted by Jamie Lynn’s new memoir, “Things I Should Have Said.” In the book and during its accompanying press tour, Jamie Lynn has discussed a variety of issues, including Britney’s controversial conservatorship, their father’s struggles with alcoholism, and what it was like to be raised in her older sister’s shadow. 

“We write with some hesitation because the last thing Britney wants is to bring more attention to your ill-timed book and its misleading or outrageous claims about her,” Britney’s lawyer, Mathew Rosengart, wrote in the letter, which was obtained by Variety. “Although Britney has not read and does not intend to read your book, she and millions of her fans were shocked to see how you have exploited her for monetary gain. She will not tolerate it, nor should she.”

The Spears family has been the subject of international headlines over the last year as the legal battle to free the “Toxic” singer from her 13-year conservatorship took off. Britney has been vocal about the fact that she felt largely abandoned by her family while she was in the conservatorship, claiming they did nothing to help her. A Los Angeles judge officially terminated the arrangement in November, giving the pop star newfound control over her life. 

“Having endured a 13-year conservatorship that stripped her of civil rights and fundamental liberties, Britney will no longer be bullied by her father or anyone else,” the letter continued. “Britney was the family’s breadwinner and she also otherwise supported you. Publicly airing false or fantastical grievances is wrong, especially when designed to sell books. It is also potentially unlawful and defamatory.”

Spears Sisters Duke it Out on Social Media

During the press tour, Jamie Lynn has conducted interviews aired on “Good Morning America,” “Nightline,” and the “Call Her Daddy” podcast with Alex Cooper. Britney has taken issue with several stories Jamie Lynn told, including one where she claims Britney locked them inside a room together with a knife because she was “scared.”

“I’ve never been around you ever with a knife or would I ever even think to do such,” Britney wrote in one Twitter post denying the story.

“Hope your book does well, Jamie Lynn !!!!” the singer wrote in another post. “My family ruined my dreams 100 billion percent and try to make me look like the crazy one.”

Jamie Lynn has defended her choice to write the memoir, arguing that she is “speaking my truth to heal my traumas.” 

“I hate to burst my sister’s bubble, but my book is not about her,” she wrote. “I can’t help that I was born a Spears too, and that some of my experiences involve my sister.

Rosengart mentioned this statement in the cease and desist letter. 

“You recently reportedly stated that the book was ‘not about her.’ [Britney] takes you at your word and we, therefore, demand that you cease and desist from referencing Britney derogatorily during your promotional campaign,” he wrote. “If you fail to do so or defame her, Britney will be forced to consider and take all appropriate legal action.”

See what others are saying: (Variety) (USA Today) (Rolling Stone)

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