Growing up, I remember hearing that Selena Quintanilla was our queen, nuestra reina; she was like our Beyoncé. This connection is obvious: they are both from Texas, multi-talented, producing award winning music, have different “hats” (Selena not just sang, but was also starting her fashion line; Beyoncé sings as well as acts), and have achieved global success. 

While Selena is everlasting and won’t ever be forgotten, there is a new reina we can look up to. Karol G, born Carolina Giraldo Navarro, is a 32-year old musician taking over not only this country, but the world. She is currently on her Mañana Será Bonito (“Tomorrow Will Be Beautiful”) tour, and will be performing at the Pasadena Rose Bowl on Friday and Saturday. I will be there on Saturday (which means I will miss reggaetonera Young Miko).

Now, how may I argue that Karol G is our Beyoncé? Let me provide two reasons: 1) relatability and 2) home pride. 

The first reason that Karol G is our Beyoncé is that her music is bilingual, just like us. Karol G is Colombian, with her music directly linked to reggaeton, a musical genre that mixes Spanish-speaking music such as salsa, cumbia, and merengue, with English music at times such as hip hop and pop. Her accolades include the Billboard’s Best Latin Songs & Billboard Latin Music Awards, Spotify Plaques, Premios  Tu Música Urbano, Premios Lo Nuestro, Premios Juventud, People’s Choice Awards, MTV Awards (in the U.S. and Europe), iHeartRadio Music Awards and Latin Grammy Awards. 

(Photo by Getty Images)

And these awards are only the beginning. Karol G continues to reach new heights. One of her most recent achievements may be found in the Barbie movie soundtrack: her song, “Watati,” features Aldo Ranks, a Panamanian rapper. In this song, she mentions having aguardientico, which is the Colombian national drink (similar to pisco sour for Peruvians). In case you are unaware, Barbie is not only this summer’s blockbuster film, but is also breaking records. It’s no wonder this film would include such an artist like Karol G. 

And this month, she became the first Latina to headline Chicago’s Lollapalooza in 30 years. Beyoncé has also won many awards, and was the first Black woman to headline Coachella in its nearly 20 year history. They are making strides, which is what we can relate to (and hope for). 

To find romantic love is one goal (more common than not); however, to demonstrate love by giving back to others is another purpose (one that is not as common). Karol G demonstrates this purpose by helping people in need, especially in Latin America. In 2018, she decided to have all her concert profits in Guatemala go to the people affected by the Fuego volcano eruption. Then in 2020, she helped families affected by COVID-19 in Colombia. And thanks to her Con Cora Foundation (which is short for “con corazón,” “with heart”), women from all over South America have been given opportunities otherwise not available to them.

Aside from success, we can relate to her Latina experience: she too has had hardships with men. She dated reggaeton star Anuel AA in 2018, followed by an engagement soon after. They broke up in 2021. This summer, she was photographed in public holding hands with fellow Colombian reggaetonero, Feid. Through her music and relationships, she has demonstrated her growth. This is what I see relatable to us: she is a young woman trying to “make it,” trying to do what she loves as her career while also attempting to find romance.

But perhaps what really makes Karol G nuestra reina is her pride along with how she shares this Colombian happiness with us. She comes from Medellín; and she makes this obvious in more ways than one: she includes Colombian slang in her music such as ¡que chimba! and an outfit that highlighted her country’s flag while performing at Coachella last year. Once again, this is similar to Beyoncé as well: she celebrated her heritage in the movie soundtrack for Disney’s The Lion King, as well as invited band members from HBUs (Historically-Black Universities) to perform with her at Coachella.

Why is it important to represent where you come from, like Beyoncé and Karol G continue to do? 

Because it’s a crucial component of who you are. It’s your family origins, your culture, upbringing, and an important part of your identity. It is connected to your authenticity. 

For example, I was born and raised in Los Angeles, yet my parents are from Lima. I represent my Angeleno spirit by wearing my LA caps and using LA news stories in my lectures; and to exhibit my Peruvian spirit, I wear red and white clothing along with actual flags during my marathons. Such displays are hints into who I am and where I come from, something I am very proud of. 

Perhaps you may agree with me on the connection of Karol G and Beyoncé, perhaps not. However, what we may possibly agree on is 

Let’s remember our past and where we come from, like with superstars such as Selena, but also look upward and onward to the future, which includes Karol G. 

Read more stories about representation here.

Dr. Clariza Ruiz De Castilla is a faculty member in both the Chicano Studies and Communication Studies Departments at CSULB. She has been at the Beach since 2014 and has nearly 20 years of teaching experience...