Last night, Beyoncé surprised fans by teaming up with J Balvin for a remix of “Mi Gente,” the Colombian reggaetonero’s hit with Willy William. Even better, Beyoncé announced that she would donate the song’s proceeds to hurricane and earthquake relief for victims in Mexico and the Caribbean.
Within a half hour of its release, the Bey-Balvin union racked up more than 100,000 YouTube views, and the comparisons to “Despacito” came almost as quickly. Listeners began comparing Beyoncé’s Spanish to Bieber’s, with one headline even proclaiming that Beyoncé had been “inspired” by Justin Bieber’s Spanish on Daddy Yankee and Luis Fonsi’s viral smash.
To say Beyoncé is following Bieber’s footsteps is a hot pile of blasphemy and basura — and the Beyhive quickly pointed out on Twitter that we can’t forget the entire body of work Bey has released in Spanish, as well as her history of embracing her Latinx fans throughout her career. In 2002, she hopped onstage at The Latin Grammys with Destiny’s Child and joined Alejandro Sanz to sing “Quisiera Ser,” contributing verses in English and jumping in on the chorus in Spanish (Let it be known that Justin Bieber was eight at the time).
Five years later, Beyoncé partnered up with Alejandro Fernández for “Amor Gitano,” a song she helped write and produce, and that served as the theme for Telemundo’s telenovela El Zorro. “Beautiful Liar,” her Grammy-nominated duet with Shakira, came out that same year. Though it was in English, our mouths dropped when we saw Bey alongside the Colombian-Lebanese belly-dancing queen, and the duo later released a Spanglish version of the jam called “Bello Embustero.”
Bey was really feeling her Spanish skills in 2007; she went on to record the Spanish version of “Irreplaceable” for a primarily Spanish EP called Irreemplazable — there was even a norteña version of the track. In 2008, she released a Spanish-language version of “If I Were a Boy.” In 2011, she dropped a live recording of “Irreemplazable” to raise funds for Oxfam, WaterAid and Greenpeace.
Queen B has also said multiple times that she rides hard for Selena. In 2007, she told People en Español that the Tejana queen was a major influence for her growing up in Texas. She even shared her favorite Selena bop in an interview with Solange last year. The perfectionist has performed the Spanish versions of her song flawlessly over the years — with no “burrito” or “Dorito” swaps, unlike Bieber.
In 2008, she even expressed gratitude to her Latino fan base for their support in an interview with Latina Magazine. “I would thank them for embracing me…I’m just jealous that I wasn’t born Latina. I wish I had been because the culture is so beautiful. I’m very grateful Latinos are embracing me.”
So while “Despacito” has undeniably brought more Spanish into the mainstream recently, Bey isn’t new to this marketing strategy. She’s seen the power of singing in Spanish and collaborating with Latino artists for years — and more than a decade before Bieber. But we don’t need to call bullshit on the Bieber nonsense, because the Bey Hive did it way better. Check some of our favorite tweets below: