With hits like “Despacito” and “Mi Gente,” reggaeton has finally gone mainstream (translation: White people have discovered it). Although people around the world are falling in love with the music that blends Caribbean music, Latin tunes and hip-hop, there is at least one musician who is not a fan.
According to Remezcla, Mexican superstar Aleks Syntek appeared on Spanish-language television show La Saga in August, and during an interview segment, the singer criticized the musical genre for its sexual lyrics, fantasies and rhythms. Syntek said, “Reggaeton music comes from apes … ,” later adding: “Well, you just have to watch them dance.”
The comments outraged fans of reggaeton and sparked immediate criticism from media outlets including Univision (which also owns this website). The music has a long history of resistance and protest among black Puerto Ricans and Panamanians, in the same tradition as hip-hop, jazz, blues, rock ’n’ roll and … well, damn near every form of music that black people created but is now termed “American.”
So, of course, Syntek did what any celebrity (aside from the president of the United States) does when he or she makes a racist comment: He took to Twitter and apologized … but not really.
“I acknowledge I was wrong in the way I expressed myself,” the statement loosely translates. “While it is not a musical genre that particularly attracts me, I reiterate my commitment to musical diversity. Respect to those who like reggaeton music.”
That’s it? This motherfucker slanders an entire race of people and their music and he just says: “My bad. I still don’t like the music, but if you like it, that’s cool with me.” Nothing about apes. Nothing about his dance comments. He calls that an apology?
When asked for comment about Syntek’s half-hearted apology, President Donald Trump did not say he thought it was fine; nor did he insist that Syntek be punished by being made to pay for the wall. Instead, the president suggested that Syntek be deported. When told the singer was a former reality-show star who broke Mexican television ratings with his version of The Voice, Trump looked wistfully into the distance, as if he were recalling a fond memory, then snapped back and suggested Syntek be brought to America so that he could be deported again.
Both Syntek and Trump later acknowledged that there are bad people “on both sides.”