The uncharacteristically windy Mexican weather had no effect on this past weekend’s Baja Beach Festival in Rosarito, as fans powered through low 60-degree temperatures to experience the best of Latin trap the world has to offer.
After all, 30,000 enthusiastic Latin trap fans are very well capable of creating enough body heat to flame a party across the inviting Rosarito Beach sands.
For concertgoers, seeing surefire acts like J Balvin, Bad Bunny, Nicky Jam and Ozuna all under one roofless arena was nothing short of a musical utopia en español.
I had planned to fully latch onto the intersection where Hip Hop and reggaeton met and fully exemplify the dynamics through Cardi B’s performance. Alas, there was an unforeseen “bancellation” in the rap queen’s schedule. Yet being on ground zero within the thick of Papas & Beers’ luscious wonderland of sand turf, I realized Cardi’s presence wasn’t necessary, as Baja Beach Fest co-founder Chris Den Uijl attests.
“I mean I think [this festival] is the whole idea of inclusivity; stretches further than just the fans too, you know,” Den Uijl tells HipHopDX.
He continued, “I worked really closely with a lot of the headliners and a lot of the artists on the festival for them to kind of get behind this inclusive concept as well as creating like an only Latin kind of reggaeton festival. And with that, the participation that I’ve had from everybody, from all the artists, from marketing and the event and talking about the event has just been super unique compared to other events and festivals that I work on. They’ve been very engaged.”
Given all the unpredictability that accompanies even the most typical of the festival, the smoothness and safety of events and performances can’t be understated. There were no slack performances; from Becky G adhering to her Inglewood Spanglish roots amid nailing an airtight pop routine to Alex Rose following the same trap grooves with hits like “Toda (Remix)” and “Darte” that enabled Tory Lanez his star power; to Argentine rapper Cazzu revealing herself to many astonished fans to be a sharp lyricist; to a multifaceted De La Ghetto, who can toggle between his pristine rapping and singing without losing his breath.
This further exemplified why the headliners earned their spot, not through the relationships Den Uiji mentioned, but for their sheer, uncanny talent. Both J Balvin and Bad Bunny commanded their respective headlining spots with poise, splicing between hits from their recently released Oasis album, including rousing renditions of fan-favorite “La Canción.” Seeing that the newly minted Latin music legends appeared on adjacent days was also interesting to see their respective takes on their Billboard No. 1 smash “I Like It” in Cardi’s absence as Balvin (who anchors the track) reveled in the song’s OG boogaloo melody while Bad Bunny embraced the song’s bassy pulse.
Balvin, for his part, was overwhelmed with the support of the audience, telling HipHopDX in a statement, “Baja Beach is a vibe. This is the first time I’ve seen a Latin urban festival like this. It’s really cool; it’s a blessing to see all my colleagues and friends here, it’s really dope.”
De La Ghetto
Dope is right as I fully understood the allure of reggaeton in those Baja Beach moments. The core Hip Hop community got an unadulterated dose back in 2005 when N.O.R.E. dropped the universal classic “Oye mi Canto,” which helped spark the rapper/reggaeton wave of success from the likes of Pitbull, Daddy Yankee and others.
The criticisms of it all “sounding the same” speak to its DNA: it’s a Latin love language that ignites the very passion they’re born with. And the music just happens to breed a ton of fun. I witnessed not even a whiff of altercation, conflict or anything of the ilk.
Den Uiji agrees stating, “I think the exciting kind of point of difference between this festival and others is kind of our mission of creating an inclusive Latin trap festival. I think last year was our first year. We kept it smaller, you know, we kept it at a 13,000 cap and sold out in advance to really try to gain some momentum in getting people to talk about it and really focus most of our efforts on; how do we create the most memorable experience possible for year one?
“So that their friends and friends could talk about going so… I think, yes, the lineup was an instrumental piece to that, you know, I think that we brought some of the biggest, if not the biggest names across the genre.”
As the city of Rosarito basks in yet another year of consummate economic boom, the stage is set for Baja Beach Fest to be a permanent fixture for not only reggaeton’s thriving stars but for the music itself.
Ditto for Papas & Beer, which is steadily prepping for Beach Bash, the Hip Hop version of the Latin extravaganza starring YG, Quavo, Tyga Mustard and more come September 20.
Check out more photos from Baja Beach Festival 2019 down below, the official Baja Beach Fest 2019 After Movie
up above and follow them on Instagram @bajabeachfest for more constant updates.
Baja Beach Fest Co-Founders Aaron Ampudia & Chris Den Uijl