2019 American Music Awards

Becky G on Finding 'The Difference Between Classy & Raunchy' With Racy 'Mayores'

Christopher Polk/Getty Images for SBS
Becky G attends Calibash Los Angeles 2018 at Staples Center on Jan. 20, 2018 in Los Angeles.

This week, Becky G notched her first ever No. 1 hit on Billboard’s Latin Airplay chart with “Mayores.” “I feel incredible. I feel like I’m flying," Becky G told Billboard. "I feel like everything I’ve ever worked towards is finally becoming real.”

The chart accomplishment is both sweet and notable for multiple reasons. At 20 years old, Becky G is one of only six women under 21 who’ve gotten a No. 1 on the chart. And “Mayores,” which features Bad Bunny, took 24 weeks to climb to the top, making this a feat of patience and persistence, and the longest climb since Prince Royce’s “Incondicional” in 2012.

But the real deal with “Mayores” is, well, “Mayores.” When the track first hit last year, it raised tons of eyebrows with its racy lyrics, particularly that line: “I like the bigger ones, that I can’t fit in mouth/ The kisses he wants to give me, that drive me crazy.”

Suddenly, sweet Becky G was getting chastised for her content, with some programmers even asking for a “clean” version for radio. No dice, Becky said back then. “I like smart lyrics, lyrics that have dual meanings,” she told Billboard. “I wanted people to talk. And I wanted people to see I am growing. I am a woman now.”

As we celebrate Becky G’s No. 1, here’s what she had to say about her hit back in November, as it was still climbing the charts.

How does it feel to have big hit in Spanish?

My Spanish music was something I was already developing -- "Sola," "Todo Cambio" -- those were just songs to create a new foundation for who I am as an artist. And I really feel I found myself in my Spanish music. As a woman, I found my message and my style. “Mayores” has the urban elements, the mainstream elements, but it has a bit of cumbia in it. It’s fun, it’s creative, it’s a mix of me, of who I am. 

So “Mayores.” The lyrics are very racy. And that’s something I would also say if it were a guy singing. Do you agree? 

I do and I don’t. I love smart lyrics, lyrics that make people think, that are doble sentido (double entendre). I wanted people to talk. And I wanted people to see I am growing. I am a woman now. I’m 20. 

Bad Bunny of course is first a trap artist and someone whose lyrics can be very edgy. What did you tell him at the time as far as the direction you wanted? 

I said, "I want you to do you in it." But I wanted a happy medium. "You can  go there, but you have to be smart about it." Yo no soy viejo pero tengo la cuenta como uno (I’m not old but I have a bank account as if I were) -- that's smart. He got very creative. He said, "If I’m young but I want a girl who likes older men, how do I convince her?" The tone of his voice is so unique but his flow is so distinctive and amazing. 

Were you surprised that some people were resistant to the song?

I was surprised that more people weren’t. Because I released the song at the same time as the music video, and the video had a very movie type feel with a strong story line, and I get to play the bad girl. When people got to put the song and the video together, and saw how confident I felt in the music video, I think that’s when they said "I like this."

But you did find a double standard?

Of course, and it's the older generation. And I respect that, I understand that, but the whole point of being an artist is to be you. Every time someone would bring up the lyrics, it’s like they were trying to make me scared. "That’s not what you meant.” No,  that’s exactly what I meant. I was very aware the moment I recorded the line -- I could have chosen not to record it. It’s always this older generation saying, “Women shouldn’t speak like that.” But who are you to tell me what makes me feel sexy, what makes me feel empowered. Why not? And I always refer to men who sing lots of songs about lots of different things. And no one says anything.

It comes down to opinion, and opinion is subjective. Not everybody is going to like everything you do. And I’m feeling that for the very first time, but it’s fine! At least people are paying attention. 

Did anything take you by surprise? 

The fact that people wanted me to do a clean radio version. What is that? I don’t even know. There are no bad words. 

So did you do a clean radio version? 

Oh, honey. 

Those people played the song eventually? 

Yes, because they had to. Because people were demanding it. And I’m glad I didn't have to sacrifice my artistry and my message. 

I think there’s a fine line between sexy and crass, and you’ve managed to walk it…

I think you can be sexy without being gross. I’m the oldest of four kids. I have three younger siblings who I consider my babies. My parents are my best friends. Every decision I make, they’re my filter. I played them the music, I asked them what they thought. And when my dad watched the music video he was like, "Damn girl, work it!" He was so supportive. He’s my father! So I value the meaning of family and being aware of my audience. I know there are nenas from 3 years old to abuelitas that listen to my music. I'm aware my music is universal. And when it comes to that, I felt sure. And it felt liberating to find that difference between classy and raunchy.

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