When it comes to success in the world of Latin music, J Balvin's impact is undeniable.
However, one of his most recent tracks, "Perra," a collaboration with Tokischa, has come under fire for racist and misogynistic imagery in its accompanying music video.
So, what exactly are the details of the controversy surrounding J Balvin and "Perra"? Keep reading for a breakdown of all of the known facts.
What is the controversy surrounding J Balvin's song "Perra"?
"Perra," which means "female dog" in Spanish, was released at the end of August 2021 as the lead single to J Balvin's latest album, "JOSE." Ever since it was shared with fans, the collaborative track with Dominican artist Tokischa has received quite a bit of heat for the way its accompanying music video depicts women and people of color.
The video, which was released shortly after the song in early Sept. 2021, was slammed by fans for not only the song's lyrics but the symbolism within it as well. Tokischa sings lines about how she feels like "a dog in heat," and even goes as far as sitting in a doghouse for a portion of the video.
The misogyny of referring to women as dogs aside, the song's music video also caught a lot of flack for the way it portrays Black people. At various points in the video, Black actors can be seen donning masks and various prosthetic additions that depict them as dogs. Beyond even that, another scene sees J Balvin literally walking two Black women on leashes.
Due to the various controversial depictions and negative reactions from his fans, the government of Colombia, and even his own mother, the music video for "Perra" was pulled from YouTube on Oct. 17, 2021.
Per Rolling Stone, Colombian Vice President Marta Lucía Ramírez and Presidential Council for the Equality of Women Gheidy Gallo Santos shared an open letter that directly addressed "Perra" and the negative impact they feel it has.
"In his video, the artist uses images of women and people from Afro-descendant groups — populations with special constitutional protection — whom he shows with dog ears," the government officials wrote. "In addition, while walking, the singer carries two Afro-descendant women tied with neck chains and crawling on the floor like animals or slaves."
As for J Balvin's mother, per Listin Diario, she claimed that the video had her questioning, "Where is the Josésito that I know?"
J Balvin apologized for the music video on social media.
After that onslaught of bad press, J Balvin issued a statement regarding the music video's controversy and his decision to pull it via a video on his Instagram story. There, he apologized to anyone who was offended by the "Perra" video's imagery, "especially women and Black communities."
The artist also said that he has "always been about tolerance, love, and integration, just as I’ve always liked to support new talent — in this case Tokischa, a woman who supports her people, her community, and empowers women."
According to Rolling Stone, the video's director, Raymi Paulus, also issued a statement.
"Our creative process never aimed to promote racism or misogyny," he explained. "The Dominican Republic is a country where most of the population is Black and our Blackness is predominant in underground scenes, where the filming took place, and which was the subject of the video’s inspiration. 'Perra' was a video filmed in the neighborhood, with people from the neighborhood, and the use of people of color in 'Perra' was nothing more than the participation of our people in it."
This is far from the first time that J Balvin has been embroiled in controversy surrounding his music and public persona. In 2020, the Columbian-born artist received quite a bit of hate after using the hashtag #EveryLivesMatter in the wake of the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. He also was criticized for allegedly appropriating Black aesthetics in the music video for another one of his hit songs, "In Da Ghetto."