Latin Trap and Afro Latinx Erasure: Tracing the real history of America’s latest music craze


Anh Nguyen | Associate Artist

Spearheaded by artists like Bad Bunny, Maluma and J Balvin, Latin Trap has quickly established itself as the newest craze in music industries across the Americas.

With vibrant imagery, powerful lyrics and a blend of Latin American rhythm and hip-hop undertones, Latin Trap is taking the Americas by storm and has quickly become the United States’ newest music craze.

Though it has been difficult for artists, music critics and fans alike to pinpoint a clear definition for the genre, Latin Trap can generally be recognized for its more traditional U.S.-inspired hip-hop and rap beats overlaid with Spanish lyrics. The pioneers of the genre hail from Latin America, with many of the most notable names coming from the Caribbean.

With a whopping four billion streams and counting, Latin Trap bad boy Bad Bunny is credited as one of the main players making the genre an international hit. Songs like Soy Peor, Amorfoda and Sensualidad placed him at the top of music charts, including those in the U.S. like Billboard Hot 100.

Other notable artists like Maluma, De La Ghetto and J Balvin have quickly become household names for many U.S. music fans, who revere the genre for not only its very danceable rhythm and colorful music videos, but also for its elevation of Latinx visibility in mainstream Western pop culture.

The representation of Latin America and, in turn, Latin American artists in the U.S. mainstream has been little to none, with certain break-out artists like Selena and Shakira being the exception. Latin Trap rising quickly to notoriety and remaining at the top of the charts has excited many Latinx music fans, both young and old, because of its sustained representation of Latin Americans for a broader audience.

But with all advancements of representation and reconstruction of identities in the public’s imagination, one must question who is being left out of the new narrative. Latin Trap is no exception, and critics have argued certain elements of its hypervisibility have been problematic.

Some may wonder how the rise of Latin Trap could be considered problematic, especially when all of the names dotting the top charts are Latinx. The question of representation and erasure is what comes most quickly to mind, especially when looking at the faces who are representing Latin Trap.

Many of the more popular songs in Latin Trap music have actually included Afro-Latinx artists, like Ozuna in “Hello” and Archangel in “Ahora Me Llama.” The problem isn’t the lack of cultural and musical production by Afro-Latinx artists, it’s the erasure of their labor in popular media.

This is why the inclusion of Afro-Latinx artists in conversations about Latin Trap and its roots is imperative. If non-black Latinxs of color and white Latinxs are credited solely for the creation of a genre influenced heavily by black diasporic groups while Afro-Latinx creators are made invisible, it will be a failed project.

What is important to note about Latin Trap is that with its growing popularity and international audience, it has the power to really increase visibility for Latinxs trying to define what Latinx identities mean for themselves, rather than the perceptions projected on Latin America by the Global North.

Instead, Afro-Latinx voices like Archangel and Ozuna, who were present for what some consider the initial formation of Latin Trap, should be uplifted and appreciated in the same way Bad Bunny is. The inclusion of all Latinx voices in the creation of a globally recognized genre is the only way Latin Trap will truly be “Latin.”

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