Remembering Selena’s ‘Amor Prohibido’ 25 Years Later
Few artists have had the chance to inspire a generation with their music, fashion and overall being — let alone in a mere 23 years. In hip-hop, Tupac Shakur is held on a saintly pedestal by anyone who’s ever picked up a mic, fought the system, or battled with good and evil weighing on their shoulders. Similarly, almost every present-day Latinx (and sometimes non-Latinx) artist gives themselves a bendición in honor of the late Selena Quintanilla.
In the last few weeks, hip-hop chart-topper Cardi B bowed down to Saint Selena after her performance at the Houston Rodeo (the same location as one of Selena’s final performances), as did Kacey Musgraves, Camilla Cabello and Prince Royce. The Dominican American bachatero performed a rendition of Selena’s “No Me Queda Más,” one of her classic ballads and one of the many standouts from her seminal album, Amor Prohibido.
On the 25th anniversary of Amor Prohibido, it remains her most revered and most eclectic album. If “Como La Flor,” released two years earlier, launched her career in Mexico and Latin America, then Amor Prohibido, her fourth album, gave her mainstream crossover appeal.
Before Selena, Latin American artists were defined by their English language pop counterparts. Everyone and their mami was the Mexican Madonna. But the rareness of Selena was that she wasn’t only Latinx, Mexican, Tejana or American… she was everything. Her sensibilities were American. And her music was a rainbow of various influences.
Sonically, Amor Prohibido is perhaps the most experimental Regional Mexican album ever. It doesn’t stay within the confines of its genre, but plays around with hip-hop, techno and pays homage to the originators of cumbia (Colombia) and even New Jack Swing.
“Donde Quiere Que Estes,” Selena’s collaboration with Nuyorican Spanish language R&B outfit, The Barrio Boyzz, is a clear example of the album’s range. The single’s music video — which could’ve easily been ripped from a New York Undercover episode — features choreographed hip-hop dancing, leather jackets and baggy jeans. Seeing Selena seamlessly go from La Reina of Tejano to around the way girl in the concrete jungle is a testament to her flexibility.
Yet, if we’re speaking about impact, no song off of Amor Prohibido comes close to “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom.” Originally titled, “Bidi Bidi Bubbles,” “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom” is a fun, up-tempo, Caribbean influenced song about new love. Today, it’s a staple at Quinceñeras, karaoke clubs, Latinx girls nights out and por Dios it’s also an amazing lullaby song.
We’re sure today’s crop of bilingual Latinx artists might have been swayed to sleep with a little ditty called “Bidi.” It’s easy to see the result of Selena’s influence come to life in artists like Paloma Mami, Melii, Cardi B, A.CHAL, Camila and so many more. Selena was one of us. A Latinx with roots in her grandparents’ native land, but as American as pie de manzana.
“It’s incredible to watch her music pass from generation to generation,” says Selena’s brother A.B. Quintanilla, who produced and wrote the majority of her music. “She would be estática to know she created something that has lasted forever.
Amor Prohibido is Selena’s magna opus — from the classic songs to the immaculate album cover image of her ruffled Prince-esque blouse, bright red lipstick and giant hoop earrings. Twenty-five years later, Amor Prohibido holds its place firm in Latinx music history as the album that spawned a million duplicates. But there’ll only be one, Selena . . . forever.