Colombian musician J Balvin has issued an apology after he faced criticism for his portrayal of Black women in the music video for his song “Perra” featuring Dominican rapper Tokischa. According to BBC, the music video directed by Raymi Paulus was released in September. The song drew political backlash and disappointment from Balvin’s own mother.
In an open letter issued to the 36-year-old artist on Oct. 11 by Colombia’s vice president and chancellor Marta Lucía Ramírez, she called the song “sexist, racist, chauvinist and misogynistic.”
“In his video, the artist uses images of women and people of Afro-descendants—population groups with special constitutional protection—whom he presents with dog ears,” she wrote. In the music video, the singer walks two Black women on leashes, and other Black talents featured in the video were made to look like dogs. She encouraged Balvin to sign a petition that “includes various commitments for the promotion of women’s rights in music and prevention of violence against them.”
“That song is not… I don’t even know what to say. I did not see my José anywhere,” his mother Alba Mery Balvin expressed to a Colombian news station.
It seems as though the global star has taken the hint as he issued an apology on Monday (Oct. 25) via social media. Shared on Instagram, Balvin, who collaborated with Beyoncé on the “Mi Gente (Remix)” offered amends specifically to Black women.
“I want to say sorry to whomever felt offended, especially to the Black women community,” he said. The video had been removed from YouTube since October 17 “as a form of respect” shared the star.
“That’s not who I am. I have always expressed tolerance, love, and inclusivity. I also like to support new artists, in this case Tokischa, a woman who supports her people, her community and also empowers women.”
Tokischa made a statement discussing the controversy during an interview with Rolling Stone.
“It was very conceptual. If you, as a creative, have a song that’s talking about dogs, you’re going to create that world,” she explained. “I understand the interpretation people had and I’m truly sorry that people felt offended. But at the same time, art is expression. It’s creating a world.”
Paulus, who not only directed the video but is also Tokischa’s manager, added his sentiments.
“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.”
View the video of J Balvin’s apology below:
— billboard latin (@billboardlatin) October 24, 2021
And keep scrolling to check out J Balvin alongside BIA and Pharell Williams in the visual for “Safari”: