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Frankie Jazz

Pandebono And "Traicionera" Tunes: 24 Hours In Colombia With Sebastián Yatra

The Colombian crooner is all about bringing ballads back to the forefront of Latin music.

If Sebastián Yatra were a crystal, he’d embody a rose quartz. Possessing love in every groove, Yatra does the same in his gentle and welcoming tone as he speaks compassionately about crafting baladas in a space preoccupied with Latin trap and reggaeton melodies. The genre is as big as it’s ever been with the crossover successes of fellow Colombians Maluma and J Balvin but Yatra, sitting backstage of the Movistar Arena in Bogotá, Colombia, is focused on making ballads great again.

“I think younger artists are scared. There’s been an error in associating ballads with boring and slow and old,” he explains as the legendary Miguel Bosé belts out one of his many baladas to a yearning crowd. The 23-year-old is the youngest artist on the homecoming bill, which features Juanes and Bosé, who became an honorary Colombian in 2010.

“A lot of the time, artists who’ve sang ballads early in their careers have gone urban or gone into reggaeton and that’s awesome, it’s importantisimo, do all these types of music and genres and progress musically,” he says while pointing out Ed Sheeran, Michael Bublé and Quincy Jones as dream collaborators. ”But if these artists were to bring back their ballads, it would beautiful because there’s a whole generation that will get some of that too. I would feel bad if they never got to experience it.”

It’s hard to ignore how important ballads play in Yatra’s creative outpour. Hours before chatting with Yatra, I revisited his debut album MANTRA en route from New York to Colombia. As the heavy rain trickled into my carry on, “No Hay Nadie Más” played in my ears, easing down the stress building in my shoulders. The artist toys with sultry hymns of love on the album while turning up the heat on tracks like the super-popular “Traicionera.” Sure, Latin Pop tart tunes are all about getting the girl, but Yatra’s practice derives from an earnest space.

Born in Medellín, Sebastián Obando Giraldo lived in Cartagena briefly before finding somewhat of a permanent home in Miami, Florida. Settling into songwriting at the age of 12, Sebastián moved back to Colombia eight years later. His breakthrough single was "El Psicólogo," (“The Psychologist” in English) a gentle ballad which became a hit in his native country. Ironically it was the trap-EDM blend of "Traicionera" that supplied him with international allure. The single reached No. 1 in Colombia and sweet spots on the Billboard Latin and Latin Pop charts, respectfully. His ability to blend between subgenres is a testament to his well, mantra.

“My mantra are my songs,” he says. “It takes you to that good energy with whatever you’re listening to. All these songs have these positive vibes, especially in the lyrics. They’re just sharing love. This album is my first mantra and I’ll have another one next year, hopefully.”

As Yatra continues to push for the slow jams, he’s prone to his ability to turn up. His single “Ya No Tiene Novio” with Venezuelan duo Mau Y Ricky earned him another batch of platinum plaques thanks to its undeniable blend of pop and reggae flair. There’s also the very clever campaign that went to making the video.

“It’s pretty crazy because the song blew up before it even came out,” he reveals. “Instead of telling people it was awesome, we told everyone that the collaboration sucked and having everyone say, ‘Dude you guys messed up, the song so bad.’” Artists like Maluma, Zion Y Lennox, and J Balvin joined the “Yatra vs. Mau and Ricky” faux feud, raising more hype and curiosity for the single.

 

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@jbalvin dice que no discutamos más.. ustedes que dicen? BUENA VIBRA @mauyricky ?? ⚡️ #YaNoTieneNovio

A post shared by Sebastian Yatra (@sebastianyatra) on

“Maluma sent Mau and Ricky a video saying, “You guys f**ked up, why would you guys sing with Yatra?” and J Balvin was like, “You guys gotta make up,” he said while imitating Balvin’s signature prayer stance. “People were just laughing with it and that’s what the song was about. Just having a good time. In the video that’s what we’re doing too, just stealing each other’s girls, which is part of everyone’s everyday life.”

For the making of MANTRA, Yatra says hitting every genre wasn’t his intent as much as the input of serenity, inspiration and hope. “We never said, we do ‘this’ type of music, I just make songs to make you wanna party like crazy or make you get intimate with a girl you like,” he says. “All these songs have a purpose and each of them are written for a different moment in life. All these beats make you feel different things. I did a trap record called “Como Si Nada” with this guy Calle and the rap he does is mind-blowing.

“I just enjoy getting out of my comfort zone. I think younger artists, Colombian artists and Latinx artists around the world are doing a great job of getting outside the box or rather, getting rid of the box.”

Bending musical traditions have worked well for Latinx creatives. Since 2016, Latin music has captivated streaming services and YouTube with many of the billion-viewed videos belonging to artists like J Balvin (“Mi Gente”), Luis Fonsi (“Despacito”), Becky G (“Mayores”), Maluma (“Felices Los 4”), Jennifer Lopez (“On The Floor”) and many more. As hip-hop and R&B reigns as the most consumed genre in the world, Latin music and its subgenres are right behind it.

As we get closer to the final hours in chilly Bogotá, the party continues at Movistar Arena with Yatra wrapping up our convo to hop on stage with Juanes. The moment is a big circle as one of the first albums Yatra owned was Juanes’ 2004 release, Mi Sangre. It’s as if Yatra’s mantra of love and modern baladas are coming into fruition before our very eyes.

Stream MANTRA below.

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Netflix Unveils New Teaser, Release Date For Highly Anticipated ‘Selena’ Series

A new trailer for Netflix’s upcoming series on Tejano singing legend, Selena, has arrived. The streaming giant unveiled the teaser and official release for the highly anticipated Selena: The Series on Tuesday (Oct. 6).

The Grammy winner is portrayed by actress Christian Serratos, best known for her role on The Walking Dead. Standing at just over a minute-long, the teaser shows Serratos on stage while Selena’s “Como La Flor” plays in the background.

A native of Texas, the Latin singer sold approximately 30 million records world wide and remains a music icon decades after her death. Having already found success in the Latin arena, the 23 year old was on the brink of crossing over into the American music market when she was shot to death by Yolanda Saldivar, a friend and former manager of her Selena Etq. boutique. Saldivar, 60, will be eligible for parole in 2025.

Since her passing, Selena has received several accolades and honors including a posthumous star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, a Madame Tussauds wax figure, and a MAC lipstick collection honoring her memory.

Selena: The Series debuts on Netflix on Dec. 4.

Watch the trailer below.

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Supreme Court Blocks Trump Administration’s Attempt To End DACA

The Supreme Court voted to block the Trump Administration's attempt to end the Deferred Action for Children Arrivals program on Thursday (June 18). The decision, handed down in a 5-4 vote, protects 800,000 DACA recipients who came to the U.S. as children, from being deported.

The SCOTUS vote delays the Administration’s potential efforts to rescind DACA versus blocking it indefinitely. The court ruling determined that a DACA reversal is not unconstitutional.

“Today’s decision must be recognized for what it is: an effort to avoid a politically controversial but legally correct decision,” Justice John Roberts wrote.

Roberts, the swing voter, joined Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor, and Stephen Breyer. The remaining Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorusch, Samuel Alito, and Brett Kavanaugh, voted to rescind.

Sotomayor was the only Justice who acknowledged the argument that ending DACA was motivated by discrimination against Latinos, who make up a large percentage of DREAMers.

Former President Barack Obama, who created DACA in 2012, reacted to the SCOTUS decision on Twitter. “Eight years ago this week, we protected young people who were raised as part of our American family from deportation. Today, I’m happy for them, their families, and all of us.

“We may look different and come from everywhere, but what makes us American are our shared ideals. And now to stand up for those ideals, we have to move forward and elect @JoeBiden and a Democratic Congress that does its job, protects DREAMers, and finally creates a system that truly worthy of this nation of immigrants once and for all.”

...and now to stand up for those ideals, we have to move forward and elect @JoeBiden and a Democratic Congress that does its job, protects DREAMers, and finally creates a system that’s truly worthy of this nation of immigrants once and for all.

— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) June 18, 2020

Thursday's SCOTUS ruling hands a second blow to the Trump Administration in a matter of days. Earlier in the week, the SCOTUS voted to add a provision to the 1964 Civil Rights Acts that bans employers from discrimination based on sexual orientation of gender identity.

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Carlos Perez

Anuel AA Breaks Free

In 2015, an entourage of close to 30 men drew guns among one another during a traditional Christmas parranda in Puerto Rico. The scene turned into something straight out of a movie when a pair of gangsters clandestinely attempted to kidnap local rapper Anuel AA. After a brief scuffle and flagrant shouting match, however, the man born Emmanuel Gazmey Santiago went on to finish the evening’s holiday spree in the boisterous company of his loyal posse.

Months later, after ushering in the new year on a promising note by featuring on one of Latin trap’s first global hits – De La Ghetto’s sex anthem “La Ocasion” with Arcangel and Ozuna – someone delivered Anuel AA a divine premonition of sorts: “If you keep talking about this stuff in your songs, something really ugly is going to happen to you.”

A Puerto Rican music legend, Hector “El Father” of reggaeton-turned-son of God, paid Anuel a visit to share his foreboding message. “He and I did not know each other,” explained Anuel, who prides himself on waxing poetics about the real-life experiences Hector was concerned with, “but God spoke to him and Hector felt he needed to reach out to me. When he warned me, he said it with so much conviction that he even cried.”

Having forged a legacy of his own as one of the key trailblazing reggaeton entertainers of the ‘90s who later signed a deal with JAY-Z’s Roc-A-Fella Records, Hector – now a devoted Christian – understood life imitated art when it came to Anuel’s lyrics.

“My lyrics talked a lot about God and the devil, so when he told me that,” Anuel continued, “I knew I needed to make some changes. Those themes, good versus evil, they were my mark and what separated me from the rest.”

On April 3, 2016, just two weeks after meeting with Hector, Anuel was arrested and held in Guaynabo’s correctional institution on charges of illegal gun possession. Following his biggest musical break yet, just as he was touching the cusp of international stardom, a court judge sentenced Anuel to 30 months in federal prison without bail.

Raised east of San Juan, in the Puerto Rican city of Carolina, Anuel AA has a lot in common with many of my favorite MCs: he’s charming, resolute, and lyrically gifted, yet marred by a criminal past, complicit misogyny and the constant struggle between right and wrong. “I had no choice but to carry those weapons with me, because of the issues I had on the street,” the rapper said to VIBE Viva over the phone, while quarantined in Miami. “I thought to myself I’d rather be locked up than found dead.”

Indeed, Anuel had evaded his probable demise when he was nearly abducted and landed right behind bars months later, fulfilling a prophecy that cost him both his freedom and a flourishing start at the tipping point of trap music en Español. “I was being forced to reckon with all the bad things I had done for money in the past,” Anuel expressed, regretfully. “I started reading the Bible for the first time and realized that my talent and blessings came from God, not anywhere else.”

Anuel had begun to take music seriously around the same time his father, José Gazmey, was laid off from his coveted A&R position at Sony Music. With his back against the wall, a scrappy Anuel left home at 15 and began to engage in felonious activity to help provide for his family and finance his music endeavors.

Like many rappers on the island, Anuel was influenced by popular culture and trends on the mainland, most discernibly by contemporary trap. Anuel understood the genre’s synonymy with street life and the drug enterprise and immediately took to Messiah El Artista, a Dominican-American rapper VIBE profiled for championing Spanish-language trap music all over New York.

“I figured if Latin trap was doing well in New York, it was for sure going to pop in Puerto Rico,” said Anuel, who had signed with the Latino division of Rick Ross’ Maybach Music Group the year prior to his arrest. “I spent about a month in New York before I returned to Puerto Rico. Then I started to release all the songs I had, one by one, and they began to gain popularity.”

While artists like J. Balvin helped breathe new life into the reggaeton genre in Colombia, Anuel wanted to spearhead a movement in Puerto Rico with a sound all their own. “I recorded the ‘Esclava’ remix with Bryant Myers and it might not have taken off worldwide, but it became a huge trap song in Puerto Rico.”

Akin to the heydays of reggaeton, an Afro-Caribbean genre-fusing hip-hop and reggae that originated in Puerto Rico, trap music was considered lowbrow and was heavily criticized for its vulgarity, violence, and explicit lyrics. Puerto Rican critics and artists alike had very little faith in the music’s potential and therefore denounced it. “DJ Luian, who is like a brother to me, couldn’t understand why I wanted to put all my energy into music that none of our artists wanted to sing.”

“Reggaeton went dormant for years,” he continued. “It was necessary to make trap music, because it felt like reggaeton was stuck in another era.” A self-described student of the late and oft-controversial Tupac Shakur, Anuel thought reggaeton had reached its pinnacle and believed Latin trap would be its successor.

Songs like “Nunca Sapo,” where Anuel channels Rick Ross’ Teflon Don ethos and spits a grimy slow-tempo flow over a sinister 808-laden instrumental, helped put a face to Anuel’s little-known name in the US. On cuts like Farruko’s “Liberace,” Anuel speeds up his delivery for fun and plays on the “Versace” rhythm popularized by Migos, who all hail from Atlanta—the widely credited birthplace of trap music.

For Anuel, whose life mantra “real hasta la muerte” is now a famous hashtag, music aspirations had little to do with radio play. Anuel, 27, was largely concerned with dominating the digital space, especially while incarcerated. Despite his arrest, he continued to release music from behind prison walls while his team fed his massive following up-to-date content.

Hear This Music CEO, DJ Luian heeded what Anuel was trying to accomplish and began to work with Bad Bunny, the Latin Grammy-winning artist and star voice of the current Latin trap movement. “When I was locked up, Luian helped develop Bad Bunny and he basically became in charge of keeping trap alive while I was away,” said Anuel, who ironically came under fire recently and was accused of throwing shade at Bad Bunny for the video treatment of “Yo Perreo Sola,” in which the rapper-singer dresses in drag as a stance against toxic masculinity.

“I couldn’t believe something like this was going viral,” Anuel interrupted anxiously before I could expound on a question concerning their relationship. “It looked like it was something that was edited or put together to make my Instagram posts read that way. I immediately texted Bad Bunny about it and he was like, ‘Don’t worry, people are always going to be talking sh*t.’”

Anuel considers Bad Bunny a genius at what he does and maintains that despite not knowing each other very well, he and his fellow compatriot are friendly collaborators with a working rapport: “When he and I do a new song together, what will people say then?”

Today, the collective jury will reach a verdict upon listening to Anuel’s newly-released sophomore studio album Emmanuel, where fans will find a track titled “Hasta Que Dios Diga,” a sultry, mid-tempo reggaeton number. Fans can expect to hear a star-studded project riddled with guest features, including Tego Calderón, Daddy Yankee, Enrique Iglesias, J. Balvin, Ozuna, and Karol G, to name a few.

Discussing life during a global pandemic, Anuel spoke fondly of his partner-in-rhyme, Colombian singer-songwriter Karol G. “She’s the love of my life. She’s been there with me through the good and bad. People who really love you are the ones who stand firm by you when things are bleak. In my toughest moments, Karol was there. She’s shown me how to be a better man,” he gushed.

“Karol comes off as super feminine—which she is, but Karol also has a really tough masculine side,” Anuel laughed heartily on the other end of the line. “She rides motorcycles and likes taking them up these crazy hills. She rides jet skis too! She’s like a dude, haha. We work well together and we give each other advice all the time.”

The pair are making the most of quarantine life in South Florida, releasing a self-directed and self-shot music video for their joint single “Follow,” a reference to flirting over social media in the era of social-distancing, the idea that shooting one’s proverbial shot can lead to a budding romance.

On July 17, 2018, Anuel dropped his debut studio album, Real Hasta La Muerte, hours before he was released from jail. By September, the RIAA certified his introduction to the game platinum, garnering the attention of Roc Nation artist Meek Mill. When the Philly wordsmith released his fourth studio LP in November of the same year, followers were geeked to learn Anuel had earned himself a place on Meek’s highly anticipated Championships album with “Uptown Vibes.”

I always wanted you and anuel aa to make a track together bc i feel like he’s the meek mill of spanish trap , how was it working with him ?

— Nagga (@naggareports) December 17, 2018

“Recording with Meek Mill for me was like when Allen Iverson played with Michael Jordan for the first time,” Anuel said, singing praises about their first-ever partnership. “I’m a huge fan of Meek; when his music took off I was still in the streets, so I related and identified with a lot of the things he was saying.”

“Meek doesn’t understand a lick of Spanish,” he mused in jest, “but he’s always with a bunch of Latinos. When I speak to him he says, ‘I don’t know what you’re saying, but my Spanish [speaking] ni**as tell me you be talking that sh*t!’”

Anuel leveraged his knack for storytelling and released “3 de Abril” earlier this year, an emotional freestyle about the day he was arrested and a graphic snapshot of his trials and tribulations.

“I did things without caring about the consequences. I thought I was a man because I was street smart. Now I know what it’s like to lose everything, so I wanted to talk more about my life and the experiences of me and my family,” Anuel described the inspiration behind the song.

Following the release of “3 de Abril,” Anuel again turned hip-hop heads when he and Lil Pump shared a fiery audiovisual for their collaborative effort “Illuminati,” stamping Pump's first new song since summer 2019. This year, Anuel also has songs with Colombian pop empress Shakira (“Me Gusta”) and with the late Juice WRLD (“No Me Ames”).

Albeit Anuel and Juice WRLD never got to meet in person, Anuel learned about the Chicago rapper from listening to his singles on the radio in jail. “The same year I won Billboard Latin’s Artist of The Year award, Juice WRLD won New Artist at the American Billboard Awards. We ended up recording the song after that but held off on releasing it for a bit because he and I had respective singles coming out at the same time,” Anuel explained.

“By the time we were finally ready to premiere it, Juice WRLD had passed away. We were never able to record together in person, but at least we got to feature him on the video. I know the tribute gave his fans and family some needed strength.”

Less than 30 minutes have gone by and already I am forced to wrap my conversation with Boricua’s burgeoning superstar:

Anuel, explain “real hasta la muerte” for me. Why exactly is this mantra of yours so important? 

“I can’t betray anyone. I don’t know what it’s like to really betray someone. I’m very loyal to my circle, my family, and those I hold close to me. Being real is what keeps me humble. It doesn’t matter how much money I make or how much I accomplish. What’s critical is staying real to myself and keeping my feet on the ground. That’s what helps keep me going.”

This interview was translated from Spanish to English and has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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