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(Exclusive Coverage) attends the TopSpin 2012 charity event at 82 Mercer on November 14, 2012 in New York City.
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The Life Gems That Angie Martinez Shared With Me About Entrepreneurship

When dinner with Angie Martinez turns into one giant life lesson. 

Añejo, nestled in the corner of Church and Walker Street, appears dingy in the already gloomy, New York October sky. Upon entering, the music is lively and the walls are moonless with specs of light hovering around in a rhythmic sway. The Mexican eatery, a scene for Dia de Muertos, is filled with chatter and the heavenly aromas of agave wafting away. No one is fully aware that in just a few moments the Voice of New York will enter the floor, sans drum roll or fancy introduction, to talk and break bread with a bevy of women who build dreams for a living.

Radio mogul Angie Martinez clandestinely makes her way to the bar and softly asks for a margarita. She looks over, smiles, and holds her hand out: “You look familiar.” I'm not sure if she thought being friendly or suggesting a past encounter would warm me up, but either way, she was right. Her easygoing approach put me at ease and allowed me to see myself in her -- just another hardworking gal, looking to take the edge off.

She moved fluidly around the room, and talked with her hands like every Caribbean person I know. I purposefully took my seat directly across from her; I was internally thanking the Universe for aligning the stars and granting me the opportunity to pick the brain of such an esteemed vet, who came up in the golden era of hip-hop.

“Angie has a lot in common with us. As a business owner and entrepreneur she faces the same challenges that we do to make sure that her brand and business are successful," opened AT&T manager, Yvette Odulio. "The hardest thing, I think, we all face is maintaining that work/life balance. Tonight we’re lucky enough to have [Angie] here to share some of her insights and experiences. Plus, she’ll sign her cookbook for us” “-- and offer you cocktails!” Martinez interrupted. “Some amazing guacamole and some good food!”

That is how this private dinner began and continued: with good energy, laughs, life stories about failures and accomplishments. I even watched a teary-eyed Martinez passionately describe her recent encounter with President Barack Obama, where she got to introduce the POTUS at the White House.

She's been dubbed the Voice of New York for a good reason; her personality is as big as it is humble, and one can't help but gravitate toward such beaming light. -- Bianca Salvant + Marjua Estevez

Life gems we gathered from our entrepreneurial talks with Angie Martinez…
--

The Power of "No"

With her Puerto Rican upbringing always in mind, Martinez wanted to create a cookbook that delivered an imperative message to the world: Latin food can be healthy. But "every major book publisher told me no," said Angie. "It was like no no no no no, from everywhere. I was annoyed.”

Angie would soon learn that one "no" can really mean "not right now." A publishing company that rejected her cookbook proposed the option to publish a memoir, instead. Yes, Angie Martinez is currently writing her life story, set to be released April 2016.

Negotiation, Persistence & Confidence
“I used to feel like people were doing me a favor. I used to feel like ‘please give me a book deal.’ But now I’m like ‘I got this! It’s a really good idea and if you don’t get it, okay, it is what it is. I'ma find somebody else, because this sh*t is going to be good.’"

"It took me years to develop that type of confidence, because I use to really be like (timid voice) ‘Hi, I’m Angie and I have this thing and I really hope you like my idea.’ Now, I don’t do that. Now, I tell them the idea is dope and people need it. I express how I really feel about it and then they either get it or they don’t."

Self-Worth
“What is your value? Make people need you. When people need you they are going to need you! It can’t be only about me teaching you a few things, let me see what you can give me. I’m not going to keep asking if you have an idea. If you have an idea, say it. If I say it sucks, keep it moving and come back tomorrow with another one. Being here is not about me. It’s about each of you. Do not leave here without these people feeling like they need you.”

#SquadGoals
“It’s important to have a girlfriend you can talk to about the inner sh*t you’re going through. It’s important to have a support system for the things that you need to help you grow. Like, who are the people around you? Have good people around you. Smart people. Seek them out and when you connect with one, stay in touch because you need that. I know I do.”

F*ck Fear
“I feel fear all the time! I was scared to death to introduce President Obama. My motto is “fuck fear.” So, yes, I’m scared. But who cares? I have to acknowledge it to myself -- but who cares? You still do it, you still go. It’s okay to be scared. I’m scared all the time. Fuck it! It doesn’t own you. You make that decision. Fear is bullsh*t.”

Me Time
“I know it’s cliché, but you have to take time for yourself. It’s the realest thing I wish I could have learned earlier. You need to give yourself energy. Because you’re giving out energy all day to your man, your kids, your work. You need to put some energy back into yourself. And also accept that it will never be [perfectly] balanced. It’s the truth! But if you give yourself enough time to be aware, then you would notice danger a little bit before it arrives. You will be constantly readjusting your life. Forever. There will never be a time when you’re like ‘I got it!’ It’s never going to happen!" "It’s always hard. What I just started doing maybe three years ago -- once a year I go somewhere alone. And I’ve always been the type of person who hates doing things alone. I don’t go see a movie by myself, or have dinner alone. But when I take that trip without anyone, I come back with so much peace and so many ideas. I write, I read. [You have to] make sure you take those moments for yourself, because work and life can make you crazy. You’ll find little tricks that help you. A trick for me is taking a trip once a year alone.”

Know More, Do More
“Always try to be better. If I was in a room with five guys talking about hip-hop, I needed to know more than all of them. It’s true and it sucks, but it’s our reality.”

Define Your Own Success
“Sometimes, we as women put so much energy into our career and then it doesn’t make us happy. You work so hard, but is that success? Like, how much money do you have to have? What is your purpose? What fulfills you inside? You start chasing something, but why? You want a million dollars? And when you get it, what happens? Answer me that. What happens?

Chase YOUR Dream
“A lot of people get stuck chasing somebody else’s route, I see it all the time." "You have to be authentic to who you are. Pay attention to your own spirit, your own gut, your own instincts. Learn from people but do you. Maybe you’re slowing yourself down trying to fit into a piece that’s not for you. There is no answer to everything. It’s just a job and if there isn’t one for you, you can’t let that stop you. You have to figure out another way. Fuck ‘em!”

#BornAndMade #carolsdaugther

A photo posted by Angie Martinez (@angiemartinez) on

Fail to Win
"I’m just deeply inspired by how [Oprah] left what she had, multiple times in her career and wasn’t afraid to do something different, something new, start over. Not afraid to fail. People were talking a lot during the first year of OWN and she said, ‘It’s cool, I failed the first year, I’m going to learn and pick it up again.’ To me that is super inspiring because it’s a journey. Failing is part of it and if you don’t fail, you’re not in the game and then you really have a problem. Failing is not the problem. Not being in the game is the problem.”

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Ozuna performs on stage during Univision's 'Premios Juventud' 2017 Celebrates The Hottest Musical Artists And Young Latinos Change-Makers at Watsco Center on July 6, 2017 in Coral Gables, Florida. (Photo by Rodrigo Varela/Getty Images for Univision)

Ozuna Makes History With 23 Billboard Latin Music Awards Nominations

Ozuna's back to back albums and monster collaborations have paid off in a major way. The 26-year-old is up for 23 nominations for the 2019 Billboard Latin Music Awards, setting a new record for the ceremony.

Announced Tuesday (Feb. 12), the singer-songwriter leads the diverse list of nominations including Hot Latin Songs Artist of the year, Male, Songwriter of the Year and Artist of the Year. His dominating work ethic also has him listed several times in the same category like Hot Latin Song (Casper Mágico, Nio García, Darell, Nicky Jam, Ozuna & Bad Bunny's, “Te Boté” and DJ Snake featuring Selena Gomez, Ozuna & Cardi B, “Taki Taki”) and Top Latin Album of the Year for his back to back projects Aura and Odisea.

Other leading contenders include J Balvin and Nicky Jam, with 13 each, Bad Bunny with 12, Daddy Yankee with eight and Cardi B with four. Other history-making moments include the increase of female nominees and the presence of women like Karol G and Natti Natasha in the Best New Artist category. Karol is also competing against Latin Trap sensation and boyfriend Anuel AA in the same category.

See the full list below.

Artist of the Year

 

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A post shared by J Balvin (@jbalvin) on Feb 5, 2019 at 5:10pm PST

Bad Bunny Daddy Yankee J Balvin Ozuna

New Artist of the Year

Anuel AA Karol G Natti Natasha Raymix

Tour of the Year

Jennifer Lopez Luis Miguel Romeo Santos Shakira

Social Artist of the Year

 

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A post shared by anitta 🎤 (@anitta) on Jan 23, 2019 at 11:18am PST

Anitta Anuel AA Bad Bunny Lali

Crossover Artist of the Year

Cardi B Demi Lovato DJ Snake Drake

Hot Latin Song of the Year

Casper Mágico, Nio García, Darell, Nicky Jam, Ozuna & Bad Bunny, “Te Boté” Daddy Yankee, “Dura” DJ Snake featuring Selena Gomez, Ozuna & Cardi B, “Taki Taki” Nicky Jam & J Balvin, “X”

Hot Latin Song of the Year, Vocal Event

Bad Bunny featuring Drake, “MIA” Casper Mágico, Nio García, Darell, Nicky Jam, Ozuna & Bad Bunny, “Te Boté” DJ Snake featuring Selena Gomez, Ozuna & Cardi B, “Taki Taki”

Nicky Jam & J Balvin, “X”

Hot Latin Songs Artist of the Year, Male

Bad Bunny Daddy Yankee J Balvin Ozuna

Hot Latin Songs Artist of the Year, Female

 

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A post shared by Becky G (@iambeckyg) on Jan 11, 2019 at 1:10pm PST

Becky G Jennifer Lopez Karol G Natti Natasha

Hot Latin Songs Artist of the Year, Duo or Group

Banda Sinaloense MS de Sergio Lizárraga Calibre 50 T3r Elemento Zion & Lennox

Hot Latin Songs Label of the Year

Flow La Movie Sony Music Latin Universal Music Latin Entertainment Warner Latina

Hot Latin Songs Imprint of the Year

El Cartel La Industria Sony Music Latin Universal Music Latino

Airplay Song of the Year

Casper Mágico, Nio García, Darell, Nicky Jam, Ozuna & Bad Bunny, “Te Boté” Daddy Yankee, “Dura” Nicky Jam & J Balvin, “X” Reik featuring Ozuna & Wisin, “Me Niego”

Airplay Label of the Year

Flow La Movie Sony Music Latin Universal Music Latin Entertainment Warner Latina

Airplay Imprint of the Year

Fonovisa La Industria Sony Music Latin Universal Music Latino

Digital Song of the Year

Casper Mágico, Nio García, Darell, Nicky Jam, Ozuna & Bad Bunny, “Te Boté” Daddy Yankee, “Dura” DJ Snake featuring Selena Gomez, Ozuna & Cardi B, “Taki Taki” Nicky Jam & J Balvin, “X”

Streaming Song of the Year

Casper Mágico, Nio García, Darell, Nicky Jam, Ozuna & Bad Bunny, “Te Boté” Daddy Yankee, “Dura” Nicky Jam & J Balvin, “X” Ozuna & Romeo Santos, “El Farsante”

Top Latin Album of the Year

Anuel AA, Real Hasta La Muerte J Balvin, Vibras Ozuna, Aura Ozuna, Odisea

Top Latin Albums Artist of the Year, Male

J Balvin Maluma Ozuna Romeo Santos

Top Latin Albums Artist of the Year, Female

Karol G Mon Laferte Rosalía Shakira

Top Latin Albums Artist of the Year, Duo or Group

Aventura Banda Sinaloense MS de Sergio Lizárraga Los Plebes del Rancho de Ariel Camacho T3r Elemento

Top Latin Albums Label of the Year

Glad Empire Sony Music Latin Universal Music Latin Entertainment Warner Latina

Top Latin Albums Imprint of the Year

DimeloVi Sony Music Latin Universal Music Latino VP Entertainment

Latin Pop Song of the Year

Enrique Iglesias featuring Bad Bunny, “El Baño” Luis Fonsi & Demi Lovato, “Echáme La Culpa” Reik featuring Ozuna & Wisin, “Me Niego” Shakira & Maluma, “Clandestino”

Latin Pop Artist of the Year, Solo

Enrique Iglesias Marco Antonio Solís Sebastián Yatra Shakira

Latin Pop Artist of the Year, Duo or Group

 

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A post shared by CNCO (@cncomusic) on Feb 12, 2019 at 8:04am PST

CNCO Maná Piso 21 Reik

Latin Pop Airplay Label of the Year

Flow La Movie Sony Music Latin Universal Music Latin Entertainment Warner Latina

Latin Pop Airplay Imprint of the Year

La Industria Sony Music Latin Universal Music Latino Warner Latina

Latin Pop Album of the Year

 

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ESTAMOS NOMINADOS A DOS @latinbillboards 🥳🥳🥳😭😭🙃🙃🔥🔥🔥🏆🏆🎼🎼🎼🎹🎹🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻 GRACIAS 🙂 Diosito te amo #ArtistaLatinPopDelAño #ÁlbumLatinPopDelAño #Mantra

A post shared by Sebastian Yatra (@sebastianyatra) on Feb 12, 2019 at 9:26am PST

CNCO, CNCO Piso 21, Ubuntu Rosalía, El Mal Querer Sebastián Yatra, Mantra

Latin Pop Albums Label of the Year

Gateway Music Sony Music Latin Universal Music Latin Entertainment Warner Latina

Latin Pop Albums Imprint of the Year

Capitol Latin Sony Music Latin Universal Music Latino Warner Latina

Tropical Song of the Year

Carlos Vives, “Hoy Tengo Tiempo (Pinta Sensual)” Romeo Santos featuring Ozuna, “Sobredosis” Romeo Santos, “Centavito” Silvestre Dangond & Nicky Jam, “Cásate Conmigo”

Tropical Artist of the Year, Solo

Carlos Vives Marc Anthony Prince Royce Romeo Santos

Tropical Artist of the Year, Duo or Group

Aventura Buena Vista Social Club Gente de Zona La Sonora Dinamita

Tropical Songs Airplay Label of the Year

LP Sony Music Latin Universal Music Latin Entertainment Warner Latina

Tropical Songs Airplay Imprint of the Year

Kiyavi Sony Music Latin Warner Latina WK

Tropical Album of the Year

Gilberto Santa Rosa, Victor García & La Sonora Sanjuanera, En Buena Compañía La Sonora Dinamita, Súper Éxitos Vol. 1 Orquesta Akokán, Orquesta Akokán Canta: José “Pepito” Gómez Victor Manuelle, 25/7

Tropical Albums Label of the Year

Sony Music Latin The Orchard Universal Music Latin Entertainment World Circuit

Tropical Albums Imprint of the Year

Norte Sony Music Latin The Orchard Top Stop

Regional Mexican Song of the Year

Banda Sinaloense MS de Sergio Lizárraga, “Mejor Me Alejo” Banda Sinaloense MS de Sergio Lizárraga, “Tu Postura” La Adictiva Banda San José de Mesillas, “En Peligro de Extinción” Raymix, “Oye Mujer”

Regional Mexican Artist of the Year, Solo

Christian Nodal El Fantasma Gerardo Ortiz Raymix

Regional Mexican Artist of the Year, Duo or Group

Banda Sinaloense MS de Sergio Lizárraga Calibre 50 Los Plebes del Rancho de Ariel Camacho T3r Elemento

Regional Mexican Airplay Label of the Year

DEL Lizos Sony Music Latin Universal Music Latin Entertainment

Regional Mexican Airplay Imprint of the Year

DEL Disa Fonovisa Lizos

Regional Mexican Album of the Year

Arsenal Efectivo, En La Fuga Legado 7, Pura Lumbre Lenin Ramírez, Bendecido Raymix, Oye Mujer

Regional Mexican Albums Label of the Year

DEL Lizos Sony Music Latin Universal Music Latin Entertainment

Regional Mexican Albums Imprint of the Year

DEL Disa Fonovisa Lizos

Latin Rhythm Song of the Year

Casper Mágico, Nio García, Darell, Nicky Jam, Ozuna & Bad Bunny, “Te Boté” Daddy Yankee “Dura” Nicky Jam & J Balvin “X” Reik, featuring Ozuna & Wisin, “Me Niego”

Latin Rhythm Artist of the Year, Solo

 

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A post shared by BAD | BUNNY (@badbunnypr) on Dec 18, 2018 at 1:05pm PST

Bad Bunny J Balvin Maluma Ozuna

Latin Rhythm Artist of the Year, Duo or Group

CNCO Piso 21 Wisin & Yandel Zion & Lennox

Latin Rhythm Airplay Label of the Year

Flow La Movie Sony Music Latin Universal Music Latin Entertainment Warner Latina

Latin Rhythm Airplay Imprint of the Year

La Industria Sony Music Latin Universal Music Latino Warner Latina

Latin Rhythm Album of the Year

Anuel AA, Real Hasta La Muerte J Balvin, Vibras Ozuna, Aura Ozuna, Odisea

Latin Rhythm Albums Label of the Year

Glad Empire Rimas Sony Music Latin Universal Music Latin Entertainment

Latin Rhythm Albums Imprint of the Year

DimeloVi (tie) Sony Music Latin Universal Music Latino VP Entertainment (tie)

Songwriter of the Year

 

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#23 #Nominaciones @latinbillboards @billboardlatin 🇵🇷🇩🇴🐻 @dimelovi @sonymusiclatin

A post shared by オズナ 🐻 (@ozuna) on Feb 12, 2019 at 11:20am PST

Daddy Yankee J Balvin Juan Rivera Vazquez Ozuna

Publisher of the Year

Ozuna Worldwide, BMI SONY/ATV Discos Publishing LLC, ASCAP Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp., BMI WB Music Corp. ASCAP

Publishing Corporation of the Year

Kobalt Music Sony/ATV Music Universal Music Warner/Chappell Music

Producer of the Year

Andrés Torres/ Mauricio Rengifo Chris Jeday DJ Snake José Martin Velázquez

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El Chapo Found Guilty On All 10 Criminal Charges

Infamous Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera was found guilty of all criminal counts against him, CNN reports. Now, he may face life in prison. The decision spanned the course of six days.

The 61-year-old is guilty of charges like international distribution of marijuana, cocaine, heroin, continuing criminal enterprise, and conspiracy to launder profits made off of narcotics. What made the deliberation extraneous was the amount of evidence presented during the trial. Reportedly, there were 200 hours of testimony since mid-November.

Last December, reports revealed that El Chapo approached the sister of a Colombian drug lord to purchase methamphetamine for his Sinaloa drug empire. Witness Jorge Milton Cifuentes Villa admitted during trial that he was present during the transaction.

Villa revealed El Chapo went behind his back and made business deals with his siblings regarding the meth merchandise. According to The Wall Street Journal, the jurors were informed about how Guzman smuggled drugs into the U.S. and Mexico, which included various modes of transportation like tunnels, cars, planes, trucks, and trains.

Additionally, a U.S. Coast Guard lieutenant testified and revealed that he took hold of a submarine filled with 13,000 pounds of cocaine off the coast of Guatemala. There was also other anecdotal evidence from those close to Guzman.

“One of Mr. Guzmán’s former mistresses testified about sleeping next to him in 2014 when they heard law enforcement agents outside,” writes Nicole Hong and Katie Honan. “They lifted the bathtub, which was a trap door, and fled through the underground sewage system for over an hour — all while Mr. Guzmán was completely naked.”

El Chapo is expected to be transferred to a high-security prison in Florence, Colo. The correctional facility is where some of the world’s most dangerous criminals are held, including 1993 World Trade Center terrorist Ramzi Yousef. When sentenced, El Chapo might face life in prison.

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How Latin Trap Helped Me Heal From The Biggest Heartbreak Of My Life

At a crowded hookah lounge in Downtown Orlando, where my girlfriends briefly whisk me away from post-breakup anguish, an opening G note played on a piano pulsates through the speakers. Immediately, I blow mango-mint smoke into the hazy room and pass the hose off, ready to replace pain with perreo.

Paso mucha' noches pensándote/Yo no sé ni cómo, ni cuándo fue

The keys lift me up from the seat I made for myself on a large window sill at the back of the bar.

Pero sólo sé que yo recordé/cómo te lo hacía yo aquella vez.

I shout each word passionately to my homegirls who yell them back, our acrylic nails pointing at each other like handguns as we ignite the dancefloor with each heated blast.

Y yo no puedo seguir solo pero sé/ que te boté

Throwing my hips back with my derrière perched in the air, Ozuna’s voice booms.

De mi vida te boté, y te boté/ Te di banda y te solté, yo te solté/ Pa'l carajo usté' se fue, y usté' se fue/De mi vida te boté, yo te boté

I bend, sway, bounce, clap, squat, shake and repeat.

I’ve experienced this same moment numerous times in the last year: in Cuba, where I got my groove back grinding to the breakup hit at a Havana nightclub; at a Bad Bunny concert in New York, when my friend recorded and sent a clip of me shaking my a** to the Latin trap king himself while he performed it onstage; in Puerto Rico, during an actual “perreo sucio en La Placita;” and in my bedroom, where I spent the most time dancing through grief and healing through music.

In the year since my ex-boyfriend of eight years and I parted ways, music, particularly the rhythms and rhymes of Latin trap and reggaeton jams, have supported me. Songs like the energetic Nio Garcia and Casper Magico's "Te Bote" remix, featuring Bad Bunny, Ozuna and Nicky Jam, offered me an escape when the agony felt overwhelming. But El Conejo Malo’s emo refrains and Karol G’s self-assured hooks also helped me confront my oscillating emotions when I was ready, comforted me when I needed to cry, thumped my chest when I was angry, returned my confidence when I felt worthless and, ultimately, helped heal my shattered heart.

The resurgence of urbano music to the mainstream, by way of 2017 bangers like Natti Natasha and Ozuna's "Criminal," Karol G and Bad Bunny's "Ahora Me Llama" and, of course, Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee's "Despacito," has coincided with my own returning.

This was the year my tumultuous relationship reached its end. The healthy and happy bond my ex and I created started chipping away two years earlier, but love, and perhaps habit, kept us fighting an unwinnable, destructive battle. We were both to blame. One’s infidelity, the other’s selfishness, one’s depression, the other’s lack of support, our mutual loss of respect. We kissed and said goodbye July 4, my very own Independence Day.

It was cordial, with us laughing in a rented car he drove from our apartment in Washington, D.C., to my new home on my best friend’s couch in Queens, but rage and despair still pulsated in both of our bodies. “Why couldn’t you love me enough to change,” he roared through text messages or late-night phones calls. “Why couldn’t you love me enough to stay,” I’d fire back. Away from each other, where we were no longer able to physically comfort one another through the pain we were guilty of causing, anger brewed, boiled and erupted.

Irate one summer morning, I put my headphones on and started jogging at a neighborhood park.

Salí jodido la última vez que en alguien yo confié/Me compré una forty, y a Cupido se la vacié

Bad Bunny’s baritone pounded into my ears, both fueling and validating my wrath.

No me vuelvo a enamorar, no/No me vuelvo a enamorar

In my feelings, I shouted with the Puerto Rican rapper-singer, prompting stares from Little Leaguers at baseball practice and a group of senior Asian women performing their morning Tai Chi.

Sigue tu camino que sin ti me va mejor/Ahora tengo a otras que me lo hacen mejor/Si antes yo era un hijo de puta, ahora soy peor/Ahora soy peor, ahora soy peor, por ti

The truth: I didn’t have other lovers, and I preferred the heartbreak to turn me into a better partner, not a worse one, but El Conejo Malo’s 2017 salty breakup jam “Soy Peor” allowed me to experience, vicariously, all the irrational, not-so-healthy post-separation episodes that outrage leads to without actually doing them and regretting it later.

Even more, songs like Chris Jeday’s lovers-turned-foes beef track “Ahora Dice,” featuring J. Balvin, Ozuna and Arcángel, and Bunny’s f**k love anthem “Amorfoda” legitimized my feelings. I was angry, at myself, at him, and at all the promises we made to each other and plans we had for the future. I was regretful, for the ways I didn’t show up for him that I should have, for accepting behaviors and situations that I wasn’t OK with, for subscribing to bulls**t societal standards of romantic relationships. I was done, over trying to make something work that wasn’t serving either of us, over romantic love and over ruminating on all of it.

Truthfully, I wasn’t well at all — and I needed, for my own physical safety and mental stability, to feel whole again, to feel like me again, to feel loved again. So I left my job and industry opportunities to head back home to Orlando, Fla., where I found comfort, understanding, and warmth in family and lifelong friends. Surrounding myself with the unconditional love of a nephew’s laugh, a niece's begs to play, a mother’s midnight head massages and a father’s weekly pep talks, it was hard to be angry. For a while, that ire transformed into longing, a yearning for the good ol’ times, before disappointment turned to rage and led to betrayal.

High off some kush in the backseat of a car, I’m in my feelings.

Tal vez no te pienso pero no te olvido/Tal vez yo te extraño pero no lo digo

Bryant Myers’ tenor has me on a long-avoided trip down memory lane.

Tal vez no cumplí nada de lo que juré/Tal vez tus heridas nunca las curé

Once traveling on this slippery road, it’s difficult to steer back to the path. Myers’ not-quite-over-you banger “Triste” featuring Bad Bunny has me in my head, unable to focus on the present because I realize I’m not yet over the past. I create a sad girl urbano playlist, with Ozuna’s “Farsante” forcing me to reconsider if the freedom that comes from singlehood really is as appealing as Bunny told me it was, and Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio’s own “Dime Si Te Acuerdas” reminding me of “to’ lo que hacíamos hasta que saliera el sol.”

My mood is heavy again, and my girlfriends take notice. They see me prioritizing my healing – journaling and meditating to identify where I, too, contributed to the demise of this relationship, trying to understand why, holding myself accountable, forgiving us both and trying to become a stronger and better me at the end — but they stress that I also need to make space for joy during this emotional journey.

I heed their advice.

Yo la conozco a ella es reservá'/Nunca ha salío' con un extraño/Pero esta noche está revelada/por culpa de un bobo que le hizo daño

Real Hasta La Muerte blares from my bestie’s car speakers as we head downtown, eager to dance away our woes for a night.

Ella quiere beber, ella quiere bailar/Su novio la dejó y lo quiere olvidar/Ella se entregó y el tipo le falló y por eso se va a rumbear

Tonight, smutty trapero Anuel AA is encouraging me to bust out of my timid confines and let the champagne and club beats help me forget the one who broke my heart, even if just for a few hours. Next week, when I’m in Miami for a five-day getaway with two other homegirls who are fresh out of relationships, it’s Ozuna’s “Se Preparó” urging us to dry our tears and doll ourselves up for a night on the dancefloor.

These frequent reggaeton parties aren’t mending my broken heart alone  — my ongoing self-analyzation and self-care practices are doing most of that work — but they are helping me regain a confidence in myself that I thought was gone forever and allowing me to discover a sexy that I never even knew I possessed.

Pero tú 'ta grande, 'ta madura/Pasan los años y te pones más dura

I take a sip of champagne between laughs as Bad Bunny sings through a speaker in my hotel room, where I celebrate my 28th birthday last July.

Baby, cómo te cura/Mientras me tortura

Cosculluela’s “Madura,” which features Benito, feels like it was recorded with me and this day in mind. Here I am, another year older and feeling badder than ever in my low-cut, skin-tight, thunder thighs-baring little black dress, and one year out of the most important romantic relationship, and friendship, of my life, maturing and healing in ways that were unimaginable 365 days prior.

That, I think, has been Latin trap and reggaeton’s greatest gift to me throughout my heartbreak: reminding me of who tf I am. When I hear Melii rap, “Tú me tienes tema / Cuida'o, si me tocas, te quemas” in her bilingual bop “Icey,” my insecurities trickle away and are replaced with self-assuredness. When Natti Natasha sings, “Cuidao, las mujeres tienen poder” in Daddy Yankee’s “Dura” remix, featuring la baby de urbano, Bad Bunny and Becky G, I’m reminded of my own enduring power. When Anitta croons, “En las noches soy yo la que define / todo a lo que vá a pasar. / A mí no me tienes que mandar” in her tantalizing Spanish-language hit “Downtown” featuring J Balvin, I, too, feel sexy and comfortable making demands in the bedroom.

With this renewed confidence, I’m now able to recognize, for the first time, the treasures that come with a single life.

Ahora me llama/diciendo que le hago falta en su cama

My phone rings. It’s yet another FaceTime call from my ex, the third this week.

Sabiendo que eso conmigo no va, ya no va/Ahora solo quiero salir con mi propia squad

I pick up. It’s all love, always and forever, but that doesn’t mean either of us want to rekindle this flame.

Es porque la noche es mía/La voy a disfrutar sin tu compañía

Life is the best it’s been in months, probably years. I’m not as stressed these days, so my skin is clear and my hair can easily land a spot in a shampoo commercial. I do what I want to do when I want to do it, whether that’s cozy solo nights in watching Netflix or catching a last-minute arena game with a homegirl. My money is mine, and I spend it traveling the globe and investing in my future. As Karol G sings in her chart-topper “Ahora Me Llama,” “Yo soy dueña de mi vida. A mi nadie me manda.”

After spending eight years with someone who I still consider the love of my life, many of them jovial and adoring yet others agonizing and lamentable, I’m at a place, post-anger and post-despair, where I’m learning what it’s like to be alone, particularly as an adult, an opportunity I never had before, and I’m surprisingly enjoying it. But I’m aware that this solitude won’t last forever. My “Amorfoda” “f**k love” stage is behind me. My heart isn’t cold. Instead, I’m excited to love and care again. After all, that’s when my cancer spirit feels its best. But before that day comes, I’m savoring and being intentional about these moments — my time with and for me.

Today, at the start of a new year and almost two years single, I’m feeling a bit like the trapero who has been with me throughout my heartbreak, Bad Bunny, in his newly-released, debut album X100PRE: “Ni Bien Ni Mal.”

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