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Don’t fight the stereotype: what kind of Latin papi are you?

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Simply put, the prototypical Latin papi can be defined as a good-looking, ass-shaking, seductive man from a Spanish-speaking country. Whether you despise or cherish that imagery is entirely up to you, but, without getting into the pros and cons of the label, let’s do a brief analysis of some of the most prominent papi pop stars in Latinoland. Why? Because these people are largely responsible for the stereotype.

Note: this is a very short list because I ran out of time/interest to write about other possible inductees (Marc Anthony, Ricardo Arjona, Miguel Bosé, Ricky Martin, etc). If you’re feeling creative and have nothing better to do with you life, write up your own profiles in the comments.

Beso, papi.


Why are thou, Romeo?

Tough on the outside, soft — really soft — on the inside

romeo-santos-papi-list

Although fully established as a deeply philosophical papi, Romeo Santos is a newcomer compared to the rest of the dudes on this list. But even if his timeline is lacking in length, Anthony’s cheeseball factor seems to extend beyond any foreseeable limit. After all, we’re talking about a big, tall, imposing man who, somewhat hilariously, makes women cream their panties by singing his entire repertoire in a Mariah Carey–like falsetto. You have to understand, people, there’s so much love and melodrama emanating from Santos, that he had no choice but to name himself after one of Shakespeare’s most tragically romantic characters. (BTW, if Romeo ever voices a cartoon character, it should be a helium-addicted Pepé Le Pew.)


Bukiness is next to godliness

The dilf

Marco-Antonio-Solis-papi-list

Marco Antonio Solís is the ultimate suave papi. His Jesus-like appearance used to freak you out when you were a kid, but he’s been making your mother swoon since before you were born. In fact, it’s highly possible that you were conceived to his music. Understand that not very many men can successfully rock a headband. But don’t let his godly, dilf-like appearance fool ya; back in the ’80s, while producing her music, “el Buki Mayor” engaged in a scandalous relationship with Marisela, whom at the time was underage and barely spoke Spanish. God is in the details, kids, so remember: the devil is supposed to be one of the most beautiful angels.


Like father, like son

The papi with daddy issues

Enrique-Iglesias-papi-list

In the early ’90s Enrique Iglesias used to portray himself as an innocent ballader. He was just a pretty boy singing pretty songs. Oh, sure, Quique’s pedigree was grand and renown—his father a best-selling artist, his mother a wealthy aristocrat—but he was just a timid, awkward kid who wore oversize long-sleeved shirts while singing in front TV cameras. Fast-forward to this decade and Enrique is now the kind of guy who nonchalantly leans on half-naked women while bragging about being “a freak.” Dude got rid of his dorky demeanor the same way he got rid of his mole. Just like Julio, his father — with whom Enrique has a very passive-aggressive relationship — Quique has been very successful at selling his Latin papi persona to the world. Good for him and all, but it should be noted that 80% of his fan base are now fist-pumping bros and their female counterparts.


Don’t look directly at the sun

The kind-of-a-dick papi (and that’s why people like him)

luis-miguel-papi-2

A papi is known as much for his music as for his womanizing (Mariah Carey, Stephanie Salas, Daisy Fuentes, Myrka Dellanos, Aracely Arámbula, Lucía Méndez, etc.), “el Sol de México” could easily be in a category of his own. Mostly because everybody deals with Luis Miguel on his terms and not the other way around. Meaning you don’t grant him an interview, a magazine cover, or live coverage—no, he grants those to you. And while many established artists still rely on big media to promote their work (see everyone else on this list), it’s been years since Luis Miguel last spoke to a legit reporter, showed up to an awards show, or posed for a photo. Social media? Like, communicating with some dirty peasant over the interwebz? No, thanks. Luis Miguel and his supposedly small penis don’t need that kind of lowbrow attention.

Surprisingly, even with all of his stuck up, bitchy behavior, Luis Miguel’s concerts always sell out and gossip shows, such as El Gordo y La Flaca and Ventaneando, constantly report even the most mundane details of his life.


Time to waltz

The spot-on, perfect papi 

chayanne-papi-list

Elmer Figueroa Arce, aka Chayanne, is actually a prime example of a Latin papi. Think about it: he’s a great dancer, a decent singer and, unlike the rest of the dudes on this list, he’s never been involved in any sort of media scandal, which makes him a class act. Plus Chayanne is never going to ask some whack singer, such as Pitbull or Usher, to groan and moan all over his tracks. Most importantly, Elmer understands his limitations and never goes over his head. He makes two kinds of songs, and two kinds of songs only: the romantic ballad and the upbeat club hit. No hip-hop crossover, no dubstep foolishness. And did you see Chayanne dance “Tiempo de vals” with his own daughter? This man is the perfect, dreamy dad.

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Why 6 of YouTube’s top 10 music videos of 2017 are in Spanish, explained

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YouTube released its annual list of the most popular music videos of 2017. 6 out of 10 of those videos are in Spanish, but more specifically, they’re from reggaetoneros. How did this happen? I’ll tell you.

First, let’s look at the list:

  1. Luis Fonsi – Despacito ft. Daddy Yankee
  2. Ed Sheeran – Shape of You
  3. J Balvin, Willy William – Mi Gente
  4. Maluma – Felices los 4
  5. Bruno Mars – That’s What I Like
  6. Chris Jeday – Ahora Dice ft. J. Balvin, Ozuna, Arcángel
  7. Nicky Jam – El Amante
  8. Jason Derulo – Swalla (feat. Nicki Minaj & Ty Dolla $ign)
  9. DJ Khaled – I’m the One ft. Justin Bieber, Quavo, Chance the Rapper, Lil Wayne
  10. Enrique Iglesias – Súbeme a la radio ft. Descemer Bueno, Zion & Lennox

1) So reggaeton is super popular now, huh?

Duh. It’s been mildly popular in Latin America since the late ’80s, but in the mid ’00s Daddy Yankee’s Barrio Fino LP essentially propelled the scandalous genre into the big leagues. I recently covered reggaeton’s mainstream success in this long-ass rant.

2) You knew “Despacito” was gonna be on the list, but how come it’s not the Justin Bieber remix?

“Despacito” was already popular in the Spanish-speaking world way before the Canadian got to it – in fact, I think the song had been out for almost 6 months when Justino Bieberto released his own “remix” (basically the same song sprinkled with some new phrases on top).

If 5 other Spanish-sung tracks made it to YouTube’s top 10 without Bieber’s help, it’s a curious indication that Justin probably helped himself out more than he helped Fonsi-Yankee.

3) How come Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, Rihanna, Britney, or any of America’s most popular singers are not in the top 10, since they usually dominate it?

Well, not all of them have released new music. Taylor Swift did, and the fact that she didn’t crack this top 10 is quite interesting.

But also not interesting at all, because maybe, just maybe, audiences might finally be tired of listening to the same 4 Swedish producers over, and over, and over.

Reggaeton is old hat to most Latinos, but to an international audience, that shit is fresh.

4) But, but, but AMUUURICAAA, nationalism, the English language, Trump, white power!

Listen, ever since MTV became a thing, most white teenagers in America want to be anything but white, even if the Trump era appears to say otherwise. Those same teenagers may turn conservative country music lovers later in life – it happened to my skater friends from high school — but, as young bucks, that “urban” lifestyle really titillates white people. That’s why Eminem is, much to the horror of this writer, still a thing.

Point is, reggaeton plays into all of the “urban” aesthetics, plus white America always has a Latin-curious thing going on (see “La bamba,” “Rico suave,” “Macarena,” “Suavemente,” or any other crossover hit).

5) Is reggaeton even reggaeton anymore? Or “urban”? Or whatever the fuck?

Nope. Besides a few exceptions, current reggaeton is basically just regular pop music with a different backup track (drum machine pattern, mostly). The original reggaeton, which was offensive, misogynist, political, highly sexualized and demonized, has been sanitized for mass consumption.

Again, I covered all of that here.

6) Are that many people in the US really, really listening to watered-down reggaeton? Let’s talk numbers.

Yes and no. This YouTube list is a global list, not just an American list. That indicates that a lot of people in the rest of the world also caught the reggaeton fever. But, speaking of numbers, there’s another possible reason as to why this genre suddenly blew the fuck up on YouTube.

There’s over 600 million people in Latin America. That’s double the amount of US Americans, but people Latin America may not be consuming their music the way many Americans do. I speak of iTunes, Spotify, Tidal, etc. Some of those are paid services, and I’m inclined to believe most people in Latin America are not paying for them. Americans probably are.

I hypothesize that people’s personal radio stations in Latin America consist entirely YouTube videos, and not Deezer/Pandora/Spotitidaltunes playlists. All of this means that Americans may be amassing more numbers on paid services instead of just YouTube.

7) How come there’s no women on this list?

Well, check out #3 again, but also know that there’s not that many reggaetoneras, which is a shame.

At some point, Ivy Queen managed to develop an audience, but, sadly, she’s a bit past her prime now, and I really can’t see her making a significant comeback. There’s a few new prospects, such as Tomasa del Real and Ms Nina, but I can’t see them being allowed into the Balvin/Maluma/Yankee/Jam club anytime soon.

There’s also Cardi B., and she sings reggaeton songs in her car, nail salons, and other places, apparently. But she’s not really a part of the reggaeton boom — not yet, anyway. (Give it time, though.)

8) Um, is Enrique Iglesias technically a reggaetonero? Wasn’t he, like, some dorky rich kid in loose sweaters?

Enrique was a dorky rich kid in loose sweaters, but that was back in the ’90s. Later he moved to Miami, started hanging out with Pitbull, Wisin & Yandel, Romeo Santos, and “reinvented” himself as a dorky rich kid with reggaetonero friends. Now he piggybacks off whatever trend is popular in the mainstream, just like most global stars, really.

It’s good for Quique’s career, I guess. But probably not for his lineage, since his dad appears to be ashamed of him. Isabel Preysler, his mom, is dating Mario Vargas Llosa, a Nobel laurete, so I can’t imagine her being super proud of her use-an-ass-as-a-pillow son:

So now you know.

LIKE/FOLLOW RICTUS ON FACEBOOK OR TWITTER, YO.

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Dramatic messages from my aunts hinder my process of trying to become a normal person

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Sometimes I peek outside my bedroom window, look at people’s ugly hairdos from afar – I live on the 4th floor of a dilapidated building in the Lower East Side – and wonder, “why can’t I be like them? Why can’t I go on with my life without being obsessed with petty shit? I, too, wanna enjoy Froyo. I wanna mingle with strangers, talk about the weather, and play frisbee in a park while listening to Maroon 5.”

But I can’t.

I can’t because of my family – specifically, my dramatic Mexican aunts – and the way they work up my neurosis. My mom is fine; she’s a stern, quiet, austere militant woman. But my aunts, whom I love and have a close relationship with, somehow passed a telenovela-esque gene my way.

Need proof? Here’s a redacted message from one of my tías. She sent it to me today at 3 in the fucking morning:

Which loosely translates to:

“She’s like a sister to me and I’ll be really sad [if she leaves]. I’m going to miss her. Another bitter Christmas for me. God, what a cruel life. Alright, mijo, take care of yourself!”

My aunt is upset because my mom – her sister-in-law – is considering moving from California to Oklahoma, where my sister lives. Now my aunt is close to committing suicide, or something.

But the best – and most dramatically endearing – part of her message is her cute, modest sign off: “alright, mijo, take care!” Like she just didn’t tell me her Christmas is about to be ruined by my mother.

Then again, it’s also genuinely endearing that she has such a strong connection to my mom, a woman she’s not genetically related to. The Latinos-are-super-family-oriented stereotype doesn’t usually sit well with me. Half of my immediate family does hate each other and, although movies like Coco show otherwise, Latino families can be just as fractured as any.

But my aunts are cool. I still love them, even if they hinder my process of trying to become a normal, Maroon 5-loving person.

Just kidding. Maroon 5 sux. I wouldn’t piss on them if they were on fire.

Oh and the woman pictured in this post is not my aunt, but Talina Fernández, an aunt-like woman whose dramatic statements have been seared into the collective memory of many Mexicans:

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Hearing an American boy disrespect his mother culture shocked the sh*t out of me

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Sometime in the late ‘80s, when he was still in grade school, a Mexican boy hounded his mother in a Target store in California. He wanted something, she wouldn’t budge.

The woman, a working-class mom of one boy and girl, came from an austere background. Having raised half of her 11 siblings when she was still in a teenager in Mexico, the woman was privy to the psychological tricks most kids use when they guilt their parents into buying them goods.

Still, the mom was a fair person, a trait she demonstrated a year before when, after months of suffering through her children’s nagging, she bought them a Nintendo. It was an expensive gift, especially for a working mom whose husband only chipped in the bare minimum for immediate necessities. Her kids were usually well-behaved, so she acquiesced, but with a warning: “I’m not going to buy you anything for the rest of your lives.”

Her children were fine with the clause.

But there was an unforeseen catch, at least for the kids: the expensive entertainment system was shipped with only one game – Super Mario Bros. – and the mom, not exactly a tech savvy woman, cared little about the mechanics or playability of the gizmo.

Her children asked for a video game console, not a console and a bunch of pricey games, so her kids had to make do with whatever came inside the Nintendo-branded box.

As a result of playing the same game for over a year, those kids learned to beat Super Mario Bros. with their eyes closed. Once the initial excitement wore off, playing the video game was no longer a cool pastime, but redundant task, and the Nintendo experience came up very short.

But before it fully became a devil’s bargain, that day, at that Target store, her son’s persistence actually got to the Mexican woman. After a year of constant harassment, the boy’s plea broke her impenetrable, ironclad contract, and she agreed to buy her children – her son, specifically – a new game.

She didn’t explicitly agree – she never did. The woman’s way of saying “yes” was simply avoiding the word “no.” Her almost military approach to education would probably be seen as some form of psychological abuse in these modern, befriend-your-child times. But even if the kids were too young to understand her methods, they understood her signals, or lack thereof.

Hardened Mexican mothers believe in resilience, not fragility, and their faint leniency still comes with limitations: “Pick one game – and not the most expensive one,” she warned. In order to pacify that frenzied Mexican child, Target employees would’ve needed to drown him in vat of potent anesthetics, but another boy’s shopping experience – an American whose mother was also by his side – did the trick.

The Mexican boy, too excited to think clearly, was curious about which game the other child was going to choose. The American boy, blond and blue-eyed, was wearing British Knights, a very coveted pair of sneakers, and the Mexican boy, sporting no-name kicks, assumed the other gamer normally got his way.

Because boys with MC Hammer’s shoes always got their way.

“Pick one, Johnny – and hurry,” ordered the American mother. A Target employee was standing behind her with keys to the display case. “Surely he’s played a lot of these games before, so he’s probably going to pick the best one,” the Mexican boy surmised.

“Don’t rush me, mom! Stop being such a bitch,” the American boy replied.

“Fuck the Nintendo game – I’m about to witness a murder,” the Mexican boy thought to himself. He expected the American mother to pick up her son, toss him face first into the unopened display case, and warn the boy that if he cried while picking out glass shards from his forehead, she was just going to kick his ass all over again, but in the car.

That’s what the Mexican mom would have done to her son, but the American mother just rolled her eyes, grumbled, and cautioned: “Johnny, keep it up and I’m not going to buy you a damn thing.”

Her son, too, rolled his eyes.

Flabbergasted, the Mexican boy looked at the Nintendo games, his mother, who was browsing through merchandise one aisle away, and his ugly shoes.

The American boy picked Super Contra. The Mexican boy picked something else.

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