*“God comes first. Fu*king you, a close second.”
In Part 1 of this post, I described my first encounters with Rosalía’s music and visual arts, which are controversial for many, but I find them wonderful. I mentioned how she integrated God, mainly Catholic references and images, into a story of love and suffering in El Mal Querer. But I finished emphasizing my surprise when I listened to the album Motomami, since she managed to combine reggaeton (sexual-indecent music) and her views of God.
So, here is my attempt to describe Rosalía’s theology in Motomami. (Before I start, let me say: yes, I heard every song multiple times collecting references of God or the Christian tradition, so I hope you enjoy it.) Rosalía understands God as someone who controls our destinies amid grief and joy. In Como un G she says “It’s sad when you want something, but God has different plans for you” (“Qué pena cuando quieres algo pero Dios tiene otros planes pa’ ti”.) In Diablo, she says, “What God gives, God takes back” (Si Dios te lo da, te lo quitará), referring to her fans who first loved her but afterward became haters. God also protects us from an evil former partner when she says in Despecha‘ “May God forbid I go back to you” (“Que Dios me libre de Volver a tu la’o). God also is our help and supports our choices. Rosalía brings this concept talking about her identity as a woman, her freedom and autonomy in Saoko: “I know who I am, and I don’t forget where I’m going. I’m driving while God guides me. I am mine and I transform myself” (“Sé quién soy, y a dónde voy nunca se me olvida. Yo manejo, Dios me guía.)
Rosalía is thankful to God for the singers that inspired her. In Bulerías she says, “May God bless Pastor y Mercè, a la Lil’ Kim, a Tego y a M.I.A. my family and my freedom” (Que Dios bendiga a [artists]). God is sovereign and powerful. She responds in Cuuuute to cocky musicians blinded by fame, saying, “my friend, keep it cute because the best artist is God” (Manito, keep it cute, que aquí el major artista es Dios). Finally, Rosalía recalls God in her family’s tradition by including a WhatsApp audio from her grandmother in G3N15. Her grandma says, “God is always first, and then family. Family is so important!” (diría que en primero sempre es Dèu y después la familia. La familia es tan importante!.) Etcétera. God is always present.
But the most remarkable inclusion of God and his blessings are in Hentai -I mean, look at that name– which is by far my favorite song. Rosalía says, “In my life, God comes first; fu*king you, a close second” Yes, in the same line, Rosalía places sex—“indecent” sex—and God together.
The spirit of the song is that of a woman who finds the divine in sexual encounters with a man. For her, the sexual encounter and God are at the same level, and they’re both “so, so, so, so, so good!” So well put! So well-crafted in every detail! Because the song, in contrast to the rest of the album, is not reggaeton –“indecent sexual music”-, as one might expect; it is a simple piano ballad. Ballads are usually about deep, committed love, but this song is one instrument, and her voice talking about erotic moments with a man, not about her love towards that man. What a twist! Beautiful combination of improbable elements in a powerful song.
I couldn’t help but think of Marcela Althaus-Reid, whose work pointed to the “decency” of Christianity and liberation theologies regarding sex. The author states that “indecency” is out there on the street, is in the real lives of real women, and if Liberation Theologies want to be really liberative must acknowledge such “indecency” because it is also Holy, Godly, and redemptive. Rosalía’s theology of sex is, for me, the embodiment of honest sexual liberation theology. Yes, she is indecent as reggaeton is. She moves with indecency in Hentai’s video, as reggaeton demands -although the song is a ballad- and she ends up saying: this is as important for me as God is. Aleluya! Althaus-Reid would be so proud! Sex is divine. It is not sanitized-Purell sex, and it is not sinful to feel such powerful sexual desire. Rosalía knows that the sexual encounter is so powerful that it resembles God himself.
In conclusion, Rosalía reminded me that I can be sexy, dance reggaeton, feel sassy, and have powerful, dirty (indecent) sex. At the same time, I can believe in a God that protects me, guides my plans, respects my autonomy, takes care of my family, inspires my favorite artists, and sustains every step of my life. One thing does not contradict the other: they’re not mutually exclusive. Sex is as divine as the form of the divine I chose.
Why is this such a realization? You may ask. Because, as a former conservative Pentecostal, this is revolutionary. In my tradition, sex and sanctity were at opposite poles, and I had to be “holy as God is holy,” so sex was out of the table unless it was in marriage only in the missionary position. So Rosalía’s theology defies that oppressive tradition that I internalized for decades. I learned to despise my body and sex as disgusting and sinful. So Rosalía’s music and reggaeton, in general, have helped me feel comfortable with my body and my Latinidad. Her songs brought liberation because she reminded me that sexuality is divine, it is holy, so my sexual desires, “indecent” as they seem for my Pentecostal friends, are in fact, amazingly divine. They are indeed “so, so, so, so, so, so good.” Thank you, Rosalía!
 She refers to God as “he” in all the interviews.
 Hentai is anime and manga pornography. A loanword from Japanese, the original term (変態) does not describe a genre of media, but rather an abnormal sexual desire or act, as an abbreviation of hentai seiyoku (変態性欲, “sexual perversion”). Read more here.
Laura Montoya is from Bogotá, Colombia. She is a Psychologist devoted to working alongside communities affected by the 60 years of war in her country. She graduated from the Masters of Divinity program at Boston University School of Theology. Her academic interests are in Liberation Theologies, Feminist Studies, Sociology of Religion, and Pentecostalism. Currently, she lives in Watertown, Massachusetts.
2 thoughts on “The Motomami Theology: “Segundo chingarte, lo primero Dios.”* Part II”
Thank you, Laura, for your posts on Motomami. I did not know about Rosalia’s work so I asked “Alexa” to play some of her music. I found her sound to be riveting. Am reminded so often as we listen to people talk about what’s important to them that God is a word–a symbol. We (humans) inculcate meaning into that symbol. Rosalia does that well.
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Thank you, Esther! That is so true; we put meaning to that symbol, and Rosalía does it beautifully since she brings her history, family, art, and persona into that word. I appreciate your comment, and thanks for reading the post.