The only thing missing at this year’s Premios Juventud – in terms of tapping into the current political climate – was an unsympathetic remix of Karol G and Anuel AA’s “Dices Que Te Vas” that’d be about un pueblo encabronado who tells Governor Ricardo “Ricky” Rosselló que se va, y (surprise) se va. What’s happening in Puerto Rico right now – a call for the removal of a proven corrupt leader on behalf of a unified, rising tide of people from around the globe who call PR home – was reflected and resounding throughout Thursday night; in large part because the participating artists deemed it to be necessary.
Prior to the night’s official start, several artists like Rauw Alejandro, Lunay, and Guaynna expressed their support for the #RickyRenuncia movement through interviews while backstage. Some showcased shirts screen printed with #RickyRenuncia or other iterations that drove that message home. Some jumped on Instagram live or quickly mentioned the trending hashtag. Winners and performers, alike, begot further success in calling attention to the issue by taking searing jabs. Eladio Carrion wore a “Renuncia” shirt during his performance of his hit “Mi Error” feat. Zion and Lyanno waved the Puerto Rican flag. But the first to open the floodgates of support for Puerto Ricans on the mainland was CNCO’s Zabdiel de Jesús with a hearty “arriba Puerto Rico!”
Pabllo Vittar and Enrique Acevedo followed suit in their introductions and award handoffs. But, it was people like Farruko, Pedro Capó, and YouTuber-turned-budding urbano star Daniel El Travieso, who hit the nail on the head by using their art to drive their message home. The latter added a much needed dash of comedic effect to the night, comparing Rosselló’s resilience to a partner that refuses to let go. A suited-up Farruko yelped “nosotros necesitamos líderes, no gente que nos roben” with PR’s black and white resistance flag waving behind him and his “Delincuente” guest star.
The seemingly never-aging, yet always relevant Daddy Yankee was perhaps the most forthright and effective in his message. Carried by a wave of screams and applause in agreement that shook Watsco Center, Yankee addressed the governor by directly looking into the camera and asking him to “quit his charge and hand off his power in a pacific, reasonable and diplomatic way and make way for new leaders to guide our nation the correct way.”
Residente, who released “Afilando Los Cuchillos” alongside his sister iLe and friend Bad Bunny amidst active participation in protests, made it clear to those participating in the award show that peace (and dare I add, thoughts and prayers) wasn’t what they needed — but a direct demand for Ricardo Rosselló’s resignation. It was encouraging and noteworthy that many artists decided to do so — and, if the otherwise pretty placid live crowd’s reaction is any indication, a welcomed change. During a time when artists’ political involvement is often so minimal to the point it’s harmful, it feels like those who are doing the least are doing the most. But if nothing else, it’s a start.