Becky G: L.A.’s homegrown, go-to Latin pop star

Becky G remembers several things about February’s Super Bowl at SoFi Stadium: the swarm of football fans that descended on her hometown of Inglewood; the halftime show headlined by Dr. Dre; and how keen her friends were to celebrate the Rams’ victory at a posh Hollywood club.

“I’m so thrilled to have grown up in LA,” says Becky, pausing to show off an elaborate “Los Angeles” tattoo on her forearm — “but figuratively speaking, Hollywood is upside down. Nobody dances, it’s about who sits at the table with whom. I’d rather throw a carne asada at my house!”

Outside the club, a bouncer actually turned her away for lack of Hollywood credentials, but the Latinos who worked the valet were delighted, as were the cooks and dishwashers who ran out of the kitchen to meet her. “That’s what Latino fame means,” says Becky.

Even in Los Angeles, where Hispanic communities make up half the city’s population, Latinos in the parallel universe are often rendered invisible outside of their enclaves, and those who “make it out” will presumably exist in the service of wealthier (and whiter) people. But 10 years into her music career, the Latin Grammy-nominated pop star has used her power by making it back in.

Speaking to Becky on Zoom, she’s getting jazzed up backstage at Madrid’s Wizink Center before her performance at Spain’s Distrito Urbano music festival. The 25-year-old just found out about her four Latin Grammys nominations: Urban Song for “Mamiii,” her single with Karol G; and Song of the Year, Record of the Year and urban fusion/performance for “Pa’ Mis Muchachas” or “For My Girls,” the cheeky trap hit that heralded Christina Aguilera’s long-awaited return to Latin music and also featured Argentinian The MCs Nicki Nicole and Nathy Peluso.

“I want to take a moment to recognize how wonderful it is for me personally to experience these moments of success with other women,” says Becky. “It gets lonely here!”

A woman in a red floral dress at an awards ceremony

Becky G at the 22nd Latin Grammy Awards in 2021.

(Eric Jamison / Invision / AP)

Unlike the average solo star, Becky finds strength and inspiration in being a team player. It’s a quality that has become essential to her strategy as an artist between Anglo and Latin American markets; from Bad Bunny to Snoop Dogg, Becky’s staff can usually count on her to have both the street savvy and pop glamor they need to perfect their party anthems.

“[Becky G] helped me a lot and she taught me a lot too,” Colombian singer Karol G told The Times in 2021. After Karol G[iraldo] and Becky G[omez] triumphed over a media-produced feud with “Mamiii,” which peaked at number 15 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming Becky’s highest-charting hit. The Gs’ camaraderie reached a fever pitch when they performed the song at this year’s Coachella while their mothers cheered them on.

“I’ll never forget walking a red carpet at an awards show in Miami,” says Becky. “One journalist said, ‘Oh, here’s another G. How does that feel?’ assume that [Karol G] tried to take [my] Place. I just thought, ‘We actually need more Gs!’”

Perhaps Becky’s drive to share her accomplishments stems from being the eldest of four siblings in her Mexican-American family and breadwinner before she even finished elementary school. After an economic crisis forced her family out of their Moreno Valley home and into her grandparents’ garage, Becky took up commercial voice acting and grew her following by singing covers of R&B songs on YouTube. Signed to RCA at age 14, she scored her first two hits: her 2013 throwback to J.Lo, “Becky From the Block,” followed by 2014’s “Shower,” an English-language bubblegum ditty. originally written for Katy Perry.

“I was always on a mission as a kid,” she says. “It was out of survivability. I didn’t do it because it was fun. And I didn’t just do it for me. I did it for my family and my community.”

Breaking into the US mainstream seemed like a fast track to independence for a young Becky, until it felt like the wheels were spinning out of control. Following the release of her 2013 EP Play It Again, progress on Becky’s debut album inexplicably stalled. She began to find a sense of belonging working with fellow Latinos like Pitbull and Mexican DJ trio 3BallMTY, with whom she debuted at Coachella in 2013.

“Spanish music gave me the drive as a young woman in this industry to find my own voice,” she says, describing herself as a “200 percent kid,” or someone under pressure, both Hispanic and authentically embody Anglo-American culture. “I think someone in the field of psychology should study the impact on us 200 percent kids of crossing cultures and trying to assimilate to both sides.”

Much like her idol Selena Quintanilla, Becky didn’t grow up fluent in Spanish; Aside from occasional conversations with her grandparents, who are from Jalisco, Becky expanded her Spanish vocabulary as an adult. She hired her cousin Cristina as a traveling Spanish teacher who helped prepare Becky for her travels during her performances in Latin America and Spain.

Spending the last six years with her Argentinian boyfriend, FC Dallas soccer player Sebastian Lletget, Becky’s Spanish accent morphed into a well-travelled mix of dialects. Her honeyed soprano voice takes shape in the rhythms she sings along to, whether it’s with her “Honorary Tío” Snoop Dogg and Banda MS on her regional Mexican trap song “Qué Maldición” or the reggaetón groove of “La Loto” . Tiny and Anita.

“When I started, it was considered an artist’s downfall if they jumped between genres because then there wasn’t an identity to cling to,” says Becky.

“In the beginning I wanted to be a rapper like Tupac, but who could also sing songs on my guitar like Taylor Swift. And I could do it in English, Spanish or Spanglish because I am pocha‘ she adds, slightly poking fun at her own fluctuating knowledge of Spanish. “But [people] were like, “How did you get from Tupac to Taylor Swift?” Only Becky would do that.”

With her 2019 debut album Mala Santa, Becky shed her reputation as the Latina girl-next-door with a collection of sexy pop-reggaeton collaborations including Sin Pijama, her tag team with Dominican MC Natti Natasha and Mayores,” her duet with then-rising SoundCloud rapper-turned-global superstar Bad Bunny.

On her 2022 album Esquemas, which translates to schemata, Becky displays her individuality with the hard-won adaptability of an Inglewood girl. She does like Uma Thurman in Kill Bill, cutting off her naysayers with razor-sharp verses in Spanish; but she settles back into her good-girl sensibilities in the Elena Rose-backed doo-wop number “Flashback” and the disco-pop number “Bailé Con Mi Ex,” which topped the Billboard Latin Airplay chart.

“This record is melodically, lyrically and sonically by far the most comprehensive I’ve ever made,” she says. “I listened to every single song a cappella because I wanted to make sure every vocal note represented me and the artist I’d become.”

Becky G’s rise in the music industry has motivated her to executive produce at least two series of screenplays, including one inspired by her mother, Alejandra. “I say to every meeting, ‘No more stories about us without us,'” says becky She’s also launched her own vegan-friendly makeup brand Tresluce Beauty — and hasn’t ruled out the possibility of recording more English-language music.

“Latinos have to play so many different positions,” says Becky. “Without each of us doing our part, we will not let our voices be heard. If we don’t use our platforms, if we don’t show our support for each other, how do we do it? We have to stand up for each other.”

https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/music/story/2022-11-02/becky-g-la-vanguardia Becky G: L.A.’s homegrown, go-to Latin pop star

Sarah Ridley

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