Made in America Festival highlights Latin artists

Malina Seenarine and Geoffrey Shamah

International superstar Bad Bunny made history on Labor Day weekend by becoming the first Latin artist to headline at Made in America, a two-day music festival in Philadelphia, founded and curated by Jay-Z

While the 28-year-old Puerto Rican artist drew in massive crowds of reggaeton fans, there was no shortage of Spanish-speaking musicians at the festival. This year’s lineup featured a record number of Latin artists including well-known names like Ryan Castro, Chimbala and Fuerza Regida.

With the presence of so many Hispanic artists, the festival saw a shift in its target audience as features have typically been hip-hop and rap stars such as Justin Bieber and Travis Scott. This change allowed up-and-coming Latin artists to be introduced to new and bigger audiences.

Fuerza Regida, who originates from California was the first act of the Mexican urban genre to play at the festival.

“We grew up with Mexican music. At the same time, we grew up with rap and everything else. So we got the Mexican genre, the Mexican instruments and mixed it with rap,” Jesus Ortiz-Paz, vocalist of the group, said in an interview with The Ticker.

The group, who is currently on their “Del Barrio Hasta Aquí” tour, which has sold-out four shows, was recently nominated for hot Latin songs artist of the year, duo or group award at the Billboard Latin Music Awards.

The group’s success speaks to the recent push of Latin music to the mainstream. When given a platform, Latin music reaches far beyond the communities they originate from.

The band speaks proudly of their success, saying, “a couple years back you wouldn’t see no Mexicans on stage at these types of festivals and now little by little our music and genre is breaking barriers.”

Ortiz-Paz spoke to the diversity of fans on the East Coast. “There’s more mixed culture that listens to our music because on the West Coast it’s mainly Mexicans,” he said.

During Bad Bunny’s performance, which drew in crowds of tens of thousands, fans waved flags from Puerto Rico, Colombia, Mexico and more.

His new album “Un Verano Sin Ti” has broken records in the music industry, with many fans being introduced to the music in a language that they otherwise would not have been exposed to in their daily lives.

“This years Made in America was special. With @sanbenito closing out the festival as a Latin artist, he brought out all the latinos loved being surrounded by my people & fans that don’t know spanish but know good music”  a festival-goer Tweeted .

“Un Verano Sin Ti” has remained on the Billboard Top 200 list for over ten non-consecutive weeks since its release, making it one of the most successful albums of the year.

At over two billion streams, the album holds the record for the most streamed album on Spotify, surpassing the numbers of his co-headliner Tyler, The Creator.

Preceding Bad Bunny’s explosive set, Colombian artist Ryan Castro made a heartfelt shout-out during his performance to all of the Latin American countries that were represented by the flags worn and waved by festival-goers.

Despite Castro’s success, the artist echoed the gratitude that he and many other Latin musicians feel when they see such large audiences in the states. “I want to dedicate this to the Latinos that are here tonight,” Castro said in Spanish.

The Hispanic population in the US is the second largest ethnic group in the country. With these figures reaching beyond 62 million people, it reflects a growing trend nationwide that has seen an increase in immigration from South America and Central America over the past few years.

In an interview with Mitú, Bad Bunny said he owes his success in the United States to “hardworking latinos who have helped make the country what it is today.” A statement that truly reflects what it means to be “Made in America” in 2022.