Friday, July 10th, 2015

Prince Royce ft. Jennifer Lopez & Pitbull – Back It Up

Exploitation? Celebration?


Juana Giaimo: Two main problems with this song, one obvious: the objectifying of the female body. JLo’s attitude is one of complete submission while the women give instructions on how to twerk. While Prince Royce’s voice is delicate, his words portray him with the same macho personality of Pitbull’s — I can’t miss one more opportunity to express my hate toward him. But the second problem is that this is sold as “Latin America” to the Anglo world. There is a third member now added to the JLo + Pitbull duo that we’ve known for while: Prince Royce was a great choice to perpetuate this stereotypical image of Latin America, given the bachata explosion of the last couple of years. But it’s unbearable to listen to lines like “Mami mami” and “dámelo papi chulo” because Latin America is a lot more than this.

Jonathan Bogart: While it would be easy to read a louche sleaziness into this lyric, the nimble purity of Royce’s falsetto suggests an innocent glee in the controlled movement of bodies and how they interact. Sex is one way to read it, and no shame inheres there; but another, more fruitful, is dance.

Micha Cavaseno: Pitbull talks about a dancehall feel, but this production is so much more. We’re starting with R&Bass fake Mustard synth lines, shifting into pop-reggaeton groove and admittedly some dancehall like summer sheen and grind. It’s got its own pop feel and even though Prince Royce’s attempts at pop feel like Jay Sean level “OK, you are competent, cool guy,” J. Lo and Pitbull keep up the obvious need for this single to be an event as much as a bit of an overflushed summer bumper.

Alfred Soto: Should Romeo Santos require a crossover, he can’t do better than this papi chulo/bachata star’s propulsive little thing, shaking with the confidence of people whose hips don’t lie. As for Lopez, this and her Jason Derulo duet suggest she can do this shit into perpetuity.

Thomas Inskeep: Prince Royce’s crossover bid works in spades, out-Pitbull-ing Pitbull by taking his usual formula and doing it better than “Mr. Worldwide” himself does. Which is a pretty good trick especially considering that Pitbull himself is on the track. Happily, this would-be crossover (i.e. Top 40 radio) track isn’t all-English language, either, as Lopez’s verse is in Spanish. And J-Lo frankly always sounds better in Spanish. “Back It Up” could almost be a Chris Brown single, with a synth-dancehall feel to it, but Royce gives it more personality than Brown would. This is a single that’s definitely greater than the sum of its parts, and it’ll sound awesome on the radio with the windows down: the epitome of a guilt-free summer jam.

Nina Lea Oishi: You can always count on Pitbull to add some greasiness to lighthearted fun. The Prince Royce-JLo pairing is charming enough, the song is breezy, the Latin touch is a welcome addition to the current heavily Mustardized radio offerings. Pitbull barges in with his trademark lack of subtlety (I cringe at his “Yo it’s got that dancehall feel to it”), but gracias al cielo, he’s gone pretty quickly.

Brad Shoup: It’s a great Derulo song, walking that pop/club line. Royce gets to exchange gassiness for being airy, and no surprise how easily it comes to him. Pitbull and J. Lo crash the party to make out, but it’s cute to a point. I’m pleased at the lightness here; the synth line has that familiar terseness, but it’s chipper.

Ramzi Awn: Uh oh. “Back It Up” is like a toothache from the first second, and we all love our candy. I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Prince, thank you for making summer just a little more summery.

Reader average: [6.57] (7 votes)

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