One of the biggest hits in Latin music last year was "Sin Pijama." The ode to sexy sleepovers peaked at No. 4 on Billboard's Hot Latin Songs chart and was certified 13x Platinum. When the song reached No. 70 on the Hot 100, with the music video amassing over 1.4 billion views, its success became ubiquitous. One might expect names like J Balvin, Bad Bunny, or Ozuna to be responsible for this monster hit, but it's actually two women: Mexican-American singer Becky G and Dominican reggaetonera, Natti Natasha.
Since the global breakthrough of Latin music with the success of “Despacito” in 2017, the women in the genre were teaming up with the men to secure recognition, but "Sin Pijama" proved that girl power is just as, if not more, profitable.
"The industry, the press, the audience would rather see women compete against each other and fight against each other," Becky G said in an interview with Billboard. "I would like to change that. So many people told me not to do 'Sin Pijama' with anybody. Imagine two powerhouses coming together. That's lights out. That's a moment in music history. That's more than just a hit song. That is making a statement that will change the game and that's exactly what we did."
Whereas women in Latin music often have the media pitting them against one another, “Sin Pijama” breaks that mold. The collaboration proves, in reality, these women are supportive and pushing for one another to be successful. Another reggaetonera, Colombia's Karol G, also combated that competition archetype with one of her recent collaborations.
Karol G scored a big hit last year with Venezuelan sibling duo Mau y Ricky on their collaboration “Mi Mala.” The song about being a bad girl didn’t take off until the trio decided to rework it in early 2018 with more female voices, adding Dominican-American artist Leslie Grace, Argentine singer Lali Espósito, and Becky G. The resulting success led to Mau y Ricky earning their first charting hit on the Hot Latin Songs chart and their first platinum certification in the U.S. The fans bases behind these four ladies have generated more than 200 million views for the song's music video.
Before assembling those stellar collaborations, Karol G and Natasha spent most of this past decade building their careers and following in the footsteps of Puerto Rico's Ivy Queen, the original queen of reggaeton. Meanwhile, the Inglewood-based Becky G was trying to become a pop star. She managed a top 20 hit on the Hot 100 with 2014's "Shower." To broaden her horizons and embrace her Mexican roots, she swerved full-time to Latin music in 2016 with her single “Sola.”
The three women amassed their followings, but as men like Puerto Rican supertars Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee were opening up more ears to Latin sounds with “Despacito” in 2017, Karol G, Becky G, and Natasha linked up with the guys in the genre to score the biggest hits of their careers at the time. The ladies solo songs were pulling in big numbers on their own, but their collaborations with the men were putting them on par with the men’s astronomical amount of plays and views. Bad Bunny featured on Karol G's "Ahora Me Llama" and Becky G's "Mayores," while Ozuna worked with Natasha on "Criminal." Those songs turned Karol, Natti and Becky into Latin music stream-queens.
Collaborating with the guys seemed like the thing to do for the women to continue rising in industry, but 2018 and the recent successes of "Sin Pijama" and the "Mi Mala" remix disproved that old formula.
In this past year, the number of women collaborating in Latin music has risen significantly. Aside from amassing millions of video views and on-demand streams, the women are asserting their place in the genre while delivering messages filled with female empowerment. With women often serving as objects or afterthoughts in Latin music, the ladies teaming up together are bringing more real and rounded female representation to the table. There's power in numbers and they're harnessing that to speak up and give voice to the women who are also streaming Latin music.
Following last year's "No Me Acuerdo," another huge female-only collaboration with Natasha, Mexican icon Thalía followed that in January with "Lindo Pero Bruto" featuring Espósito. Backed by spacey reggaeton beats, the ladies indulge in and take aim at male bimbos. The song's title translates to "Cute But Stupid" in English. They received a bit of backlash from men asking what if the lyrics were turned onto a woman. "How many centuries, how many years have gone by for a song like this to exist?" Thalía responded. "We’ve truly [as women] lived so many decades in which the roles have been the complete opposite, and it’s now a time in which things are said as they are, there’s no filter."
In February, Natasha released her debut album IlumiNATTI and surprisingly omitted the Ozuna collaboration "Criminal" from the tracklist. Instead the features on it are from Brazilian superstar Anitta on "Te Lo Dije" and Puerto Rican singer-songwriter Kany García on "Soy Mía." The former translates to "I Already Told You" in English, so the women let their man know if he slips up, it's adiós, and the latter translates to "I Am Mine." Natasha and García are a dream team on the breezy bachata track. They promote self-love and push back on the notion that a woman needs a man.
March was a big month for women in Latin music. Mexican singer Sofía Reyes dropped "R.I.P." with Anitta and British pop star Rita Ora, which featured lyrics in English, Spanish, and Portuguese. The global girl power was real on the tropical kiss-off to the haters. A few days after Maluma dropped his song "HP," Mexican icon Gloria Trevi teamed up with Karol G on "Hijoepu*#" that actually spells out the word he tried to shorthand. On the reggaeton bop, the ladies go in on an unfaithful lover and call him out for what he truly is: the Spanish slang for "son of a bitch."
April was all about Anitta when she dropped her multi-lingual album Kisses. On the standout track "Banana," she collaborated with Becky G. In English and Spanish, Anitta trades verses with Becky about having a sweet tooth for some loving. The ladies harness their sexuality and wield it with authority on the bedroom banger. In the music video, the two actually straddle a giant banana and flex their assets. At the Billboard Music Awards that month, Anitta and Becky brought that candy-coated fetish to the main stage in a bold and vibrantly-colored performance.
Karol G released her second album Ocean in May. On "La Vida Continuó," she imparts words of wisdom with Brazilian sister act Simone & Simaria, who translate the message into Portuguese. The ladies beautifully harmonize in saying that life continues on after a guy up and leaves. She also teamed up with Cuban rapper Danay Suárez on "Yo Aprendí." Last year Karol G worked with Tini Stoessel, a pop star who is putting Argentina on the map, on "Princesa." Stoessel keeps the girl power alive on "22" with Colombian singer Greeicy. On the cumbia-inflected bop, they're steadfast in singing that heartbreak won't stop them from living their best lives on their birthdays.
In June, hip-hop trio ChocQuibTown from the primarily Afro-Colombian city of Chocó, collaborated with Becky G on "Que Me Baile." The group is comprised of members Gloria "Goyo" Martínez, Miguel "Slow" Martínez, and Carlos "Tostao" Valencia. Goyo and Becky demand the listeners to indulge in hot-and-heavy dancing with no strings attached on the tropical club cut. In the music video, with the ladies styled like queens sitting on their golden thrones, that message comes off more like a royal decree. ChocQuibTown's guys solely provide support to Goyo and Becky laying down the law of the land.
As for the future of women collaborating in Latin music, Becky G said that she pitched the idea of a joint album with Natasha following the success of their single "Sin Pijama." With J Balvin and Bad Bunny recently dropping their Oasis album, this could be the perfect time to see that ladies-equivalent album. Becky has also expressed interest in doing a Latina "Lady Marmalade"-type project with Natasha, Karol G, Espósito, and Anitta.
As the women continue to pair up and make it a more common practice that people are becoming receptive to, let's hope ideas like Becky's are seriously taken into consideration.