Colombian star J Balvin apologized for her recent music video, Perra, a week after it was removed from YouTube.
Released in September, the video showed Balvin, who is white, walking with two black women on leashes; while other black actors were made up to look like dogs.
The Dominican rapper Tokischa, who appears in the song, also performed a scene on all fours inside a doghouse.
“I want to apologize to anyone who has been offended, especially the black community,” Balvin said on Instagram.
“I am not who I am. I am concerned with tolerance, love and inclusiveness.
“I also like to support new artists, in this case Tokischa, a woman who supports her people, her community and also empowers women.”
.@JBALVIN apologizes for the “Perra” video with #Tokischa. “My message has always been tolerance, love and integration,” he adds. pic.twitter.com/bXOzXv9MVf
– Latin billboard (@billboardlatin) October 24, 2021
Balvin, 36, is one of the greatest artists of Latin music, with global sales of over 35 million records. In the UK, she scored two top 10 hits: 2017’s Mi Gente, which included a guest verse from Beyoncé, and her 2018 Cardi B collaboration I Like It.
Perra is taken from the star’s sixth studio album, José, a 24-track opera that mixes her colorful, graphic reggaeton with more intimate reflections on her upbringing and mental health issues.
The single, whose title translates as “bitch” in English, falls firmly into the first category.
An edgy and sexually charged street anthem sees Balvin rhyming with Tokischa, who describes himself as a “dog in heat” and suggests “let’s fall in love like strays”.
Both the song and the video drew criticism after their premiere on September 7th.
Colombia’s vice president and chancellor, Marta Lucía Ramírez, said the song is “sexist, racist, chauvinist and misogynist”.
“In her video, the artist uses images of women and people of Afro-descendants – population groups with special constitutional protection – that she presents with dog ears,” she wrote in an open letter published on 11 October.
“In addition, while walking, the singer carries two Afro-descendant women tied with chains around their necks and who crawl on the floor like animals or slaves.”
She encouraged Balvin and the music industry to sign a petition that “includes various commitments to promote women’s rights in music and prevent violence against them.”
Last week, Balvin’s mother told a Colombian news station that she berated her son for the song.
“When I found out, I called him [and asked], ‘Where is the Josésito I know?’ “, Alba Mery Balvin told Cosmovisión.” That song is not … I don’t even know what to say. I haven’t seen my José anywhere. “
The star deleted the video from YouTube on October 17, but waited a week before apologizing.
“As a form of respect, I removed the video eight days ago,” she said on her Instagram story. “But as the criticism continued, I’m here to make a statement.
“Mom, I’m sorry too. Life gets better every day. Thanks for listening to me.”
Tokischa also apologized in an interview with Rolling Stone; trying to explain the thinking behind the images.
“It was very conceptual. If you, as a creative, have a song about dogs, you will create that world,” he said.
“I understand the interpretation that people have had and I am really sorry that people have felt offended. But at the same time, art is expression. It is creating a world.”
Raymi Paulus, Tokischa’s manager and director of the video, added that the video was intended as a “satirical representation” of the “many contexts of the word ‘perra'”, as well as life in the poor neighborhoods of the Dominican Republic, and the the way its people are viewed in society.
“Our creative process has never aimed at promoting racism or misogyny,” he said. “The Dominican Republic is a country where the majority of the population is black and our darkness is predominant in the underground scenes, where the filming took place and which was the subject of the inspiration for the video.
“Perra was a video shot in the neighborhood, with people from the neighborhood, and the use of black people in Perra was nothing more than the participation of our people.”
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