It was an inspiring and enlightening evening on Tuesday, October 6, on the Zoom stage, when The Songwriters Hall of Fame® and The GRAMMY Museum®, in association with the Latin Songwriters Hall of Fame presented the latest installment in a continuing series of hit Songwriter events: "The Meteoric Rise of Latin Hitmakers: Top Charting Songs and Voices of Cultural Change."
Latin hitmakers Becky G (“Mayores,” “Sin Pijama”) De La Ghetto (“Sube La Music,” “1,2,3”), Play-N-Skillz (Lil Wayne, Daddy Yankee), Sons of Sonix (SOS) (Justin Bieber, Stormzy) and Tainy (Daddy Yankee, J Balvin) highlighted the A-list lineup of this virtual event, seamlessly moderated by Sirus/XM’s Director of Latin Programming, Bryant Pino.
After introducing all of the panelists, Pino thanked everyone for joining. He went on to pose a series of questions that prompted insightful answers from all. In answer to the first question, “how has the pandemic affected your writing,” Becky G explained, “the human side of me has been leading, being a daughter and a sister first, and doing what I can to help my community. I’ve started to think a lot bigger and deeper, acknowledging the power that we have as creators and letting people know they are not alone.”
“We used this time to finish records in London and to get things done. We’re looking forward to what we can accomplish,” said Mo Samuels and Mikey Akin of Sons of Sonix (SOS).
Pino asked, “How does being bilingual help?”
“I was too gringo for PR and too Spanish for NY, and being bilingual brought them together. My goal was to connect with both sides, and being bilingual helped,” said De La Ghetto.
Juan "Play" Salinas and Oscar "Skillz" Salinas of Play-N-Skillz commented, “Being bilingual gave us another fresh breath of air. We started off with hip hop and we were able to navigate into another world. It has also helped in life, and we got another breath in our career, being able to mix all of the crazy sounds.”
SOS talked about their experience as having been different, being from London as a melting pot culture. “The African scene is huge right now, and working with them and it was easy to blend. We were thinking outside of the box, mixing and making something new. We embrace culture and are making something fresh.”
Tainy said, “We all try to create a sound that will resonate with different kinds of people. Something special is happening now with Latinos.”
In answer to the question, “Do you feel music is global and transcends barriers,” Becky G said, “We speak about originality and within that word is 'origin.' When you come from your origins, you just have to ‘be.’ It’s that journey of coming back to who you really are.”
“We grew up with a bit of everything based in our African culture. The idea is always to grow by learning from different experiences,” said SOS, and Tainy agreed, “I tried to learn as much as I can from other cultures, not having the fear that anyone will mess with what I put out.”
Pino then asked, “Do you have any advice for the younger generation?”
De La Ghetto said, “Just be you and keep it to your own style,” while Play-N-Skillz said, “We're two Latinos from Dallas who started producing Texas hip hop. Be true to your roots and don't be afraid to switch up your game.”
“I started at 9 and I'm only 23, and when you think you know who you are, life throws you things. Don't be afraid to change and try something new. What's not growing is dead,” said Becky G.
In closing the event, Bryant Pino thanked all of the hitmakers, (taking the Zoom selfie below, to the delight of everyone), saying he had been honored to moderate this panel and that, “Each of you represent progress and empowering others.”
Pino gave a special shout out to SHOF West Coast Committee members, vice chair Kathy Spanberger, events director Barbara Cane and Latin SHOF president Delia Orjuela for their assistance in putting the panel together.
The Songwriters Hall of Fame West Coast Committee, spearheaded by SHOF Board Member and chair Mary Jo Mennella, along with Kathy Spanberger, Barbara Cane and committee members Rebekah Alperin, Joel Flatow, Michael Pizzuto, and Mike Todd, together with the GRAMMY Museum, has been producing annual events featuring legendary and contemporary hit songwriters since 2010. This Latin panel is the latest installment of the Songwriters Hall of Fame's continuing series honoring the legacies of legendary and contemporary hit songwriters.