[OWLS] Natti Natasha and Giving Women a Voice in Reggaeton
Hey guys! Welcome back to the March OWLS blog tour. Chances are if you are reading this it’s because you were redirected here from Takuto’s post about the Stellar Women of Space Battleship Yamato 2199. Like January’s OWLS post, I will be veering off the anime course, courtesy of how little I have been engaged in the community lately #rip
In honor of Women’s History Month, the OWLS bloggers will explore the concepts of femininity and feminism. We each have our own definition of these two terms and we will explore our definitions using “feminine” characters from various pop culture fandoms. We will discuss how these characters are “feminine” or show signs of a feminist agenda. We will also share our personal stories about the amazing women that supported us in our lives as well as sharing experiences involving women’s rights, oppression within the patriarchy, and/or issues of growing up as a woman or having a feminine persona.
It’s been a while since I last wrote up a musical commentary post and I figured it was time I changed that. In the last post (read in Spanish), I wrote about the song “No me acuerdo” (I don’t remember) by Thalia and Natti Natasha and how I believed the song had destructive messages. I briefly wished I could go back in time and unpost that post so that I could use it for this month’s OWLS tour but as I sat down this morning, I realized I could expand on the topic.
Reggaeton is urban hip-hop and rap with Latin influences. Popular songs in the genre include Despacito by Luis Fonsi (the remix with Justin Beiber was played nonstop on the radio) and Gasolina by Daddy Yankee. Topics covered in reggaeton tend to be about sex, drinking, and partying and the genre is dominated by men. I actually hadn’t realized how much until I watched this video, which is a compilation of reggaeton between 2002 and 2018. On tally, I have three women in sixteen years, one in 2002 and two in 2017! I don’t count Shakira because while she was in a reggaeton song with Maluma, her songs tend to not line up in this genre. I also noticed that there were a few men like Wisin & Yandel and Don Omar who are some of our reggaeton veterans, reappearing multiple times throughout the years.
In all of those clips, we see that women don’t have a voice even though most of the songs in reggaeton are supposedly love songs to women. For example, while I love “Despacito” (Slowly) by Luis Fonsi, it also falls into the usual reggaeton cliches.
Quiero desnudarte a besos despacito
Firmo en las paredes de tu laberinto
Y hacer de tu cuerpo todo un manuscrito”
In this verse, the basic translation is: “Slowly, I want to undress you with kisses, slowly, I sign the walls of your labyrinth, I want to create a manuscript of your body.” Even though the depiction of the female love interest is tamer in this video (not as busty, laughing, dancing), the lyrics still conform to the genre. Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee are talking about sex being the endgame, which is then further cemented (to those who don’t understand the lyrics) with the thrusting motion the dancers make whenever they sing “despacito”
Another popular song is “Dura” (Hot) by Daddy Yankee. In this song, he is talking about a hot woman who has caught his attention and he talks about how attractive she is and “if that woman were mine”.
“Me gusta como mueve ese ram pam pam
Mi mente maquineando en un plan plan plan
Si me deja, en esa curva le doy pam pam
Cuál es tu receta no sé, esta pa’ comerte bien”
The verse under roughly translates to: “I like how you move that ram pam pam, my mind scheming on a plan plan plan, if you let me in those curves I’ll give [them] pam pam, what is your recipe, I don’t know, [but] it’s [good enough] to eat you up real good”. This one is a bit more explicit in the endgame than Despacito, which feels more like an innuendo. In this video there is more diversity in the type of women represented (skinny, fat, light, dark), however, they also don’t have a voice. In the song, we don’t know what they are thinking, only that they have caught the attention of this man and he has begun pursuit
Another common element in reggaeton is how overdressed men are and how underdressed or scantily or sexily dressed woman are. Daddy Yankee is wearing baggy clothes and in layers. The women are wearing skin-tight clothes and/or showing skin.
BELLA Y SENSUAL
The last song by men I’ll be looking at real quick is “Bella y Sensual” (Beautiful & Sensual) by Romeo Santos, Daddy Yankee, and Nicky Jam. The reason I chose this one is that Romeo Santos has always been associated with romantic music in the genre Bachata, so it was a bit strange to see him coming out with a song like this
“Yo sé que seras mía, ia
Cuando tiro no falla mi puntería, ia
Soy el mejor de esta trilogía, yeah
Pero quien tú escojas, te ganas la lotería
Bella y sensual, sobrenatural
Uno de nosotros te tiene que conquistar”
Honestly, this song is probably the one that bugged me the most as soon as I watched the video. There are just so many negatives here. To begin with, this video starts at a huge mansion with many women in sexy bathing clothes by a pool (while the men are fully clothed and in power as the owners of said mansion). We have Romeo Santos walking into the pool area and asking both Daddy Yankee and Nicky Jam if they’re ready to go to the studio, however, the two mention they should go out and have fun instead. Romeo Santos seems to be hesitant but ends up agreeing to the new plans. As soon as they arrive at Uptown, they end up finding “a woman” they find attractive and they serenade “her”
Choosing a verse to translate was hard for this one because each artist presents a different scenario, but I went with the following, which is sung by Daddy Yankee: “I know you will be mine, -ine, my aim never fails, -ails, I’m the best of this trio, yeah, but whoever you choose wins the lottery. Beautiful and sensual, supernatural, one of us has to win you over”
The reason I put “woman” in quotes is that I felt she was more of a prize in this song than all the others. She’s described as a lottery, clips of her in sexy intimates reoccur constantly, she’s usually at a lower level, and even though these men claim to have genuine feelings for her, she is nothing more than a part of a game they are playing with each other. When they start this serenade, Romeo Santos mentions the three have made a bet to see who “the woman” ends up choosing. They each talk about why they would be the better option and then the song ends with the implication that “the woman” has to pick one of them, which I roll my eyes at because these guys are so full of it
I would also like to mention that this woman is approached at three different times and at three different locations. Last time I checked, this was stalking…
One of the women that starts to show up in the reggaeton scene (in 2017) is Natti Natasha, a Dominican singer represented by Pina Records. Her first “hit” was “Dutty Love”, which was a collaboration with Don Omar who recognized her talent. After this, Natti released many songs in collaboration with some of the more influential male artists in the genre like Ozuna, Bad Bunny, and Daddy Yankee. Aside from my beef with “No me acuerdo”, which was a collaboration with Thalia, I have really enjoyed most of Natti’s music because they give women representation.
Natti was aware that she was a minority but she didn’t care and felt she needed to take back female sexuality from such a male-dominated genre. At least in her music, women are no longer submissive objects that men can dominate, and I believe this is why her popularity skyrocketed. Just like women try to find representation in other forms of media, they are finding that representation in Natti’s music
After her song with Don Omar, her next big hit was “Criminal” (Criminal) with Ozuna, who was and is one of the best known contemporary reggaeton artists. This is actually the song I first heard featuring Natti.
“Tú eres un delito que yo quiero cometer
Si por eso dieran tiempo, perpetual debieras ver
Para mis problemas que no quiero resolver, no
Tú me encantas, yo no te quiero mentir
Tú, tú eres para mí, yo no te quiero compartir”
This verse roughly translates to: “You are a crime I want to commit, if they would give a life sentence, you should see, I wouldn’t want to resolve my problems, no. I adore you, I don’t want to lie to you. You, you are for me, I don’t want to share.”
In this case, we finally see the woman as an aggressive partner. Natti clearly has feelings for (in this case) Ozuna (the man) as she shows her possessiveness towards his person vs. other reggaeton songs where only the man’s perspective is shown. She is also a playful woman who is sure of herself and uses that to her advantage
Another of her songs I recently listened to and really liked was “Tonta” (Fool), which she sings with Rkm & Ken-Y. I feel like many songs showcase women as the one who committed the wrong in the relationship (and caused supreme heartache for the man) or who was let go. That the man has power over her and that she should be sad about this. In “Tonta” Natti presents something different
“Si quieres irte, papi, por mí vete
Yo haré lo mismo así que no regreses
Cuando veas que otro disfruta conmigo
De todo lo que por tonto hoy te pierdes”
The verse translates to: “If you want to leave, papi, on my account leave, I will do the same so don’t come back, when you see another have fun with me, everything that you lost today for being a fool”. I think that something that is lost when translated is that the title is Tonta, which is a (female) fool vs. Tonto (male fool).
The title is supposed to be about the woman being the fool for breaking this relationship, however, Natti is clearly unapologetic in her lyrics and in the video, it’s clear that the men are the fools, still lingering on Natti and the pleasures she brought “him” while she has moved on. In fact, they are so engrossed in her (yet continuously denying the fact) that the female partners they walked into the club with leave them. They then find themselves in a labyrinth searching for Natti but when they reach the center they are alone. The empowerment of women is further showed when Natti shatters the fantasy world that Rkm & Ken-Y are living in, which was represented as a snow globe
PA’ MALA YO
I wasn’t able to find a gif for this one but this is actually the pose I wanted to draw attention to in this video so I guess it works out too. This song is “Pa’ Mala YO”, which is part of Natti’s new album illumiNATTI. I will leave the title kind of untranslated for now. It sounds like she is nominating herself (YO) for the “bad guy” role (Mala), so something like “I will be the bad guy”, but it also sounds like she’s saying “pa” (For) her “bad guy” personality (mala-yo) so “for (what is not stated) bad me”. I’m also not sure if by bad she means naughty or villainous, and I can’t figure it out from the video since it could be both
“Puedo ser bendición (O-ón)
Puedo ser maldición (O-ón)
Todo depende de cómo me trates
El infierno reside en mis labios, dime si quieres probar
Si con fuego tú quieres jugar, pues yo te puedo enseñar”
This is actually the first song I heard by Natti that isn’t a collaboration and I instantly fell in love with it. Actually, it might be one of the reasons I was inspired to write this post. The verse translates to: “I can be a blessing, I can be a curse, it all depends on how you treat me. Hell resides on my lips, tell me if you want a taste. If you want to play with fire, well, I can teach you.”
illumiNATTI is a 17-track album she released this year and they give more depth and empowerment to women. In the case of this track, Natti makes women dimensional. She can be a blessing, a curse, playful, naughty, consenting, and dismissive. She clearly says she’s going to seduce the man, she clearly says nobody controls her, and she mentions she’s single but never alone. This could mean she’s single and doesn’t care to find a partner, that she is fine the way she is, or (in this context) that she is single and can get a partner when she needs one. She is saying that women can be aggressive partners, that women can have sex whenever they wish (and shouldn’t be shamed for it), and they can also put a stop to male pursuers, wherein reggeaton sung by men this is the opposite
I also love how firm and dominant Natti portrays herself, sitting in what is normally considered a man’s pose (manspreading) but also critiquing the belief that woman shouldn’t “spread their legs” (have sex, usually premarital). This is further heightened with the type of clothing she is wearing. She is vulgar, sweet, tempting, and always in control
Natti also has many other songs that I feel really empower women in a genre that usually portrays women as sexual objects, but this post is getting really long so I won’t continue. Instead, I really recommend checking out Natti’s discography. Personally, I feel like Natti Natasha is really dominating the female perspective in reggaeton but we are also slowly getting more women emerging (like Becky G and Anitta). I hope we get even more with these ladies at the forefront.
Next up on tour will be Jack over at The Aniwriter (on the 19th!).
Like always, let me know what you think! And if you think I should write more of these musical commentaries (and for what songs)