6 Times Latinos Were Center Stage at the MTV VMAs

Lead Photo: Art by Alan Lopez for Remezcla
Art by Alan Lopez for Remezcla
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The MTV VMAs had its fair share of must-see and controversial moments — from Madonna’s questionable “tribute” to Aretha Franklin to Cardi B and Nicki Minaj throwing shade at each other in their speeches. But the VMAs were also a celebration of Latino artists — on and off the stage — and the music that has experienced renewed mainstream visibility in the last year.

We witnessed Maluma become the first solo Latino artist to perform in Spanish, and Cuban-Mexican singer Camila Cabello won Video of the Year for her single “Havana.” There was also a major Jennifer Lopez retrospective that celebrated her 20-year career and a Logic performance that highlighted the separation of children from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Latino culture and the issues our communities face were front and center at the VMAs. Take a look at some of the most memorable moments from the 2018 show.


Logic performed with kids separated from their parents by ICE.

Logic is known for his socially conscious performances, which highlight relevant issues, including mental health and suicide to immigration and racism. Last night, the rapper opted to spotlight the separation of families at the U.S.-Mexico border. During his performance of “One Day,” the 28-year-old brought children of immigrant families on stage with him. The kids wore “We Are All Human Beings” shirts, while Logic sported a “F*ck the Wall” T-shirt.


Maluma was the first solo Latino artist to perform in Spanish.

Though fellow Colombian Shakira was the first Latino performer to sing in Spanish at the VMAs when she took the stage alongside Alejandro Sanz in 2005, Maluma was the first one to do so by himself. The 24-year-old singer performed his VMA-nominated single “Felices los 4” and stirred controversy on Twitter when he kissed a dancer at the end of his performance.


Jennifer Lopez highlighted her Bronx roots with Ja Rule & bedazzled Timbs.

For her Video Vanguard performance, J.Lo dedicated the second half of her appearance to her first album On the 6. The Bronx-born singer rode a 6 train on stage and switched outfits from a gold glitter bodysuit to equally bedazzled sweatpants, a hoodie, and matching Timberland boots. She also brought Ja Rule on stage to sing “I’m Real,” a nod to her first performance at the VMAs in 2001.


J Balvin's "Mi Gente" won the Best Latin category.

Mtv Mi Gente GIF by Scorpio Music - Find & Share on GIPHY

While J Balvin was not present at the VMAs, the Colombian singer took home his first Moon Person for his hit “Mi Gente.” French artist Willy William, who’s featured on the track, accepted the award in J Balvin’s place. The single also had a remix with Beyoncé, which she now sings on her On the Run II tour with Jay-Z.


Camila Cabello won Video of the Year.

Camila Cabello GIF by 2018 MTV Video Music Awards - Find & Share on GIPHY

Cuban-American singer Camila Cabello took home the Moon Person for Video of the Year, defeating big names like The Carters (Beyoncé and Jay-Z) and Drake. The singer also shouted out Latino social media personalities Lele Pons and Lejuan James, who appeared in her video for “Havana.” Cabello also stirred controversy when she dedicated her award to Madonna, after the “Like A Virgin” singer talked about herself during her tribute to Aretha Franklin.


Cardi B faked a Baby Kulture appearance and won Best New Artist.

Cardi B GIF by 2018 MTV Video Music Awards - Find & Share on GIPHY

Cardi B might not be a new name on the block, but the VMAs seemed to think so, as she took home the VMA for Best New Artist (to be fair, Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber also were relatively big when they won the award, too). Bardi also opened the VMAs with a fake baby Kulture appearance that later turned out to be a Moon Person statue and joined J.Lo and DJ Khaled when the trio won Best Collaboration. “Bronx bitches is poppin’,” Cardi shouted during her acceptance speech.


Jessie Reyez performed at the VMAs for the first time.

Canadian-Colombian singer Jessie Reyez, who was nominated in two categories, performed her single “Apple Juice” the first time on the VMAs stage.