“I love my life in between two worlds, representing two flags,” Becky G mused onstage during day two of the Baja Beach Fest in Rosarito, Mexico on Saturday (August 17). “As a second generation] Mexican-American raised in the streets of Inglewood, you don’t know how much this means to me.”
The feisty Chicana artist was one of the welcome additions to the all-urbano, all-Latinx roster, following the cancellation of Cardi B's headlining performance two weeks ago. The other addition was Nicky Jam.
Becky G took the stage first. Rocking minty white Filas and huge hoop earrings, the bilingual singer and rapper went through her deliciously sleek numbers, like bubblegum EDM banger “Banana,” and her wildly successful hit “Sin Pijama,” which features Dominican femme fatale Natti Natasha. Her heart-filled and riveting performance was one of the biggest highlights of the two-day festival.
“I’ve been told that I’m not that Mexican for the Mexicans and not that American for the Americans. Well, what am I gonna do?” she told the crowd. “I’m proud of where I was born and raised, and that blood, no one is gonna take that away from me …] My story started here in Mexico] before I was born, before my parents were born. So when people tell me you’re not Mexican, come to my mom’s house and I will show you.”
With about 90 percent of the 30,000 fest-goers in attendance hailing from the U.S., and the other 10 representing the Mexican region and beyond, Becky G’s statements about identity hit home, resonating with that larger crowd of people who are likely also bicultural.
“It’s an audience that identifies with the current culture and music movement because this was us before it was trendy, and it will be us even if the trend ends,” the singer told Billboard backstage moments after her show. “More than anything, I felt so proud and so happy to have my loved ones at the show,” she said, in a nod to family and extended family from both sides of the border who were present at her performance.
Following Becky G, Nicky Jam arrived to the stage sporting a tee emblazoned with “Killin’ It” and played a set worthy of his status as reggaeton royalty.
On the first half of his set, he showcased numerous chart-topping hits that belong to the current new wave of pop-flavored reggaeton, including the sultry “Hasta el Amanecer,” the Latin-Grammy nominated “X” and the insatiable lovelorn urban-ballad “El Perdón.” Midway through, he busted out his grittier bangers from the mid-aughts, the era that globalized maximalist EDM-tinged reggaeton.
“He cantado desde hace 20 años. Era un estúpido que no sabía de lo que estaba hablando (I’ve sung for 20 years. I was an idiot who didn’t know what he was talking about),” Nicky Jam told the audience, referring to the raw and hedonistic lyrics that old school reggaeton boasted.
Fellow Puerto Rican Bad Bunny took the stage late in the evening, thanking fans for allowing him to flex his craft, and playing a succession of hits. These included "Te bote:" the multi-artist collaboration was performed individually by every the artists who featured on the track, but interestingly enough, it was not performed as a collab during the fest.
Earlier that day, urban newcomer Sergio Elias from Guadalajara showcased his homegrown Mexican urbano recipe for the large crowd. He appeared overwhelmed and giddy to be in good company, and sharing a lineup with idols like J Balvin, who he grew up listening to.
“I felt a connection to perform in front of Mexicans,” he told Billboard backstage. “And in front of 30,000 people!” The young artist, who is a part of a new wave of urbano rap in Mexico, seemed positive about the movement’s commercial growth. If Panama, Puerto Rico, and more recently Colombia have been at the forefront of the evolution of the art form, it might be Mexico’s turn to enter the global spotlight.