Rosalia: Outside Cultural Appropriation
Rosalía Vila Tobella, known mononymously as Rosalía - a Spanish singer—has officially hit stardom, winning two Latin Grammys in November 15th this year, and being nominated for five awards in said award show. Yet she has come a long way—from the start, when she first discovered the Camarón de la Isla at thirteen years old, and her spark for Flamenco started to burn. She has had many years of studying the traditional dance and way of singing, since she studied for twelve years the Spaniard form of expression, dance, singing, and all traditions.
What has surprised the Spaniards (especially the Gypsy people from the south of Spain), is that Rosalia isn’t from Gypsy origins, or even from the south. She was born in a small town at Barcelona, called Sant Esteve Sesrovire.
Everybody listen to her songs, especially her hit one “Malamente,” and the tunes, beats, and lyrics can get into our minds rapidly and swiftly. What is really interesting, is that the twenty-five-year old’s songs are inspired by a thirteenth century book written by an anonymous writer. The book itself is a prized item of the literature: “Le Roman de Flamenca.”
Rosalia’s lyrics tell the story of a dark romance, and her songs use common words spoken throughout the south of Spain like “killo,” “toma,” “mu mal”, and much more. Her songs has advanced to the United States, where even Pharrell Williams, Halle Berry, and Kourtney Kardashian have praised her. She has collaborated with J. Balvin and has become friends with our favorite Latin singers. She even borrowed a tune from Justin Timberlake—and he approved (which is to say something, since he never approves of anything), much to her surprise.
The main point here, is that the gypsies think that she’s committing a case of “Cultural Appropriation,” which, it’s literal definition, is becoming the “owner” of a culture.
Of course, none of that is true. The Spanish artist has been criticized for creating a genre of her own—even if she has done nothing at all to cause a commotion. First off, the gypsies think that is “wrong” that someone from Catalonia is singing their songs, from the south… but then creating her own genre, mixed with pop and trap… why does it seem like a crime to them?
There are many celebrities that have been accused of doing “Cultural Appropriation,” though none of them have done it—they just sometimes decide to include an aspect of a certain culture, and critics immediately label it as said case.
Rosalia has both the right to sing Flamenco and create her own genre, not because it is alright, but because she’s creating a whole new generation. This is how she pictures it—how to attract young people to an “old” art—a magnificent one, to say the most.
She has been studying the wonderful art, traditions, and culture the genre has for twelve years, has had multiple teachers, and her songs are inspired by a thirteenth century novel… she has the right to sing it, because she isn’t even being disrespectful. She’s telling a tale, a story—something a young person might find intriguing, fresh, something they can give it a chance.
Rosalia’s fresh chapter in this world is full of surprises—her videos are visual, and sometimes incorporates things from her personal life and somethings from the Andalusian lifestyle, or the gypsy lives in southern Spain.
There are so many people around the world that practice and live Flamenco… even in Japan. If the gypsies don’t approve of someone that is from Spain, this makes me wonder why they haven’t said anything about other people practicing it around the world.
Cultural Appropriation is a horrible thing to be accusing someone for—there are many artists that have found inspiration gazing at the mountains inside a foreign country, and that isn’t cultural appropriation.
Maybe the gypsies still can’t get over the fact that UNESCO declared the Flamenco art, traditions, and culture an intangible heritage back in 2010, where it was declared that everyone could practice it wherever they are.
Rosalia’s stardom isn’t like other singer’s—who win Grammys and with a brush of their fingers, they end their musical career. You can easily note that this particular singer will be around for a long time, influencing with her sticky and powerful songs… leaving a mark on this world just like the US did on the moon.
If Rosalia studied Flamenco deeply, then we can easily see the passion she has towards the graceful art. The way she sings—it’s like telling a story or reading an open book. She’s a fantastic singer who has the opportunity to create a genre and still be successful while at it.
One of her songs tells the tale of a woman trapped inside a room—and it has made me realize that light might overcome darkness. We’re like that, caged, trapped, desperate, but when something or someone saves us, we’re free.
Maybe Rosalia’s lyrics don’t tell just a story—they tell something more… like how we can overcome an obstacle and be free.
However, her lyrics don’t have double-meaning, unlike many other songs. Rosalia’s new genre might be a revolution. It might cause everyone to create a spark—a spark so bright it can outshine the stars and the glimmering rays of the sun. It can change the course of the way the Earth is—and we know it.
Being a social icon, she knows how to receive good and bad comments daily. How the negative ones started her career shows us that we should always believe in ourselves, no matter what other people say.
Rosalia hasn’t come down even when her career shoot up at the sky and she became world-recognized. We should always remember where we come from—and this artist has. She hasn’t forgotten her family behind, and always thinks of them.
We should be like that, too.
A country’s culture isn’t theirs only, but it depends. If someone simply wants to start singing a certain genre a country has, is it a case of “Cultural Appropriation?” Not at all. It isn’t, because Flamenco is intangible heritage, which means that it shouldn’t belong to someone only.
The Flamenco is owned by everyone in the world. If you practice it with respect, then you’re perfectly fine.
This isn’t just another new artist, this is a wonderful young woman that has been preparing all her life to be a legend and a shining star.
Okay, I hope you all enjoyed this Pink Smoothie’s Thoughts! I hope we all appreciate how brave Rosalia is at creating a new genre and causing a spark to ignite. You can watch her official music video for her hit song “Malamente,” and some interviews right here! Have a great day, everyone! 😊
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