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Republic

Believe It Or Not, Ariana Grande’s Artist DNA Has Always Contained Hip-Hop

Folks say Ariana is ditching her pop roots for hip-hop, but clearly they haven’t seen the receipts.

While Ariana Grande’s pop persona and artistry have pretty much gone unscathed for much of her career, she—like many stars in the new landscape of hypebeast and “woke” culture—quickly became the center of controversy with the release of her single, “7 rings.” The track, which is the third pre-released single from her latest studio album, thank u, next, was criticized for boasting what many deemed an unconventional flow and composition. Specifically from the black community, concerns rang out about Grande borrowing styles and cadences from artists such as Soulja Boy (she adapted Soulja’s chorus from “Pretty Boy Swag”) and incorporating a rap verse over a trap-infused beat. It was suggested that Grande was pulling a “Miley Cyrus”—the good ol’, suck the fountain of hip-hop’s success dry and then spit it back out when you want to move on to something more “serious” or less dicey.

Princess Nokia hopped in the discussion, accusing Ari of appropriating black music – namely, her single “Mine” – and black culture. “Ain’t that the little song I made about brown women and their hair?” Nokia questioned in response to the “7 rings” release. “Sounds about white.”

Following Nokia’s outrage, an eruption of critics stormed the Twittersphere, claiming that like Bruno Mars, Ariana was abandoning her pop origins and transitioning into the “urban,” hip-hop world, where she would be able to benefit in relevance and revenue without actually contributing to the culture she was taking from.

While there is a real discussion to be had about the pristine pop artists who dip their toes into the urban community in hopes of securing a universal hit, that conversation should most definitely not begin with Ariana. Maybe you haven’t paid attention since Ari was a doe-eyed, faux redhead when she first got in the game, fresh off of her stint on Nickelodeon’s Victorious, but Ariana Grande has always been entangled in hip-hop and R&B.

So as you gather your opinions about the 25-year-old starlet, here’s a deep-dive into Ari’s discography that will demonstrate that hip-hop and “black” music is not just a trendy moment for her, but rather a crucial piece of her artistry’s DNA.

Yours Truly (2013)

Ariana’s debut studio album, Yours Truly, was the singer’s first real exploration into her sound as an artist. The album toyed with the retro, slick vibes of ‘90s R&B and the playfulness of ‘50s doo-wop music, which was largely dominated by artists like Frankie Lymon and The Teenagers.

The album noted influences are: Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey (if you didn’t mistake Ari for Mariah on “My Way,” you’re fooling yourself), Amy Winehouse, and Christina Aguilera.

Although the sound could be attributed to one’s personal ear or musical taste, it was largely cultivated by the long list of writers and producers who worked on the project. Babyface was credited as a co-writer and producer on five of the album’s 12 songs. He penned and engineered the project’s introductory track, “Honeymoon Avenue,” which opened with a symphony and unfolded into a mid-tempo, hip-hop beat.

The album’s lead single, “The Way” also gained national attention after entering the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 10. The single, which featured the late Mac Miller (pre-dating), was co-written by Sevyn Streeter, Jordin Sparks, Ari, and Mac, among others. The backing instrumental was based off jazz and soul singer-songwriter-keyboardist Brenda Russell’s 1979 song, “A Lil Bit of Love.” It also mimicked lyrics from Big Pun’s 1998 hit “Still Not a Player.” The song was played on rotation throughout hip-hop-oriented radio stations and as a result, Ariana was often regarded as Mariah Carey’s mini-me.

“The Way” wasn’t the only track on the record that sampled ‘90s hip-hop. “Lovin’ It,” co-written and produced by Babyface, also embodies segments of Mary J. Blige’s 1992 anthem “Real Love.”

Other notables creditors include Carmen Reece, who has written for the likes of Destiny’s Child, Jennifer Lopez, Harmony Samuels (who has shared co-writing credits on songs for Chris Brown, Brandy, Fantasia, Keyshia Cole, and Ne-Yo), as well as Patrick “j.que” Smith, who’s written for Beyonce, Avant, and more.

Yours Truly ultimately set the foundation for what would be regarded as Ariana’s signature style: a blissful blend of poppy tunes set by a footing of vintage R&B.

My Everything (2014)

Ari’s sophomore studio album continues the singer’s trend of blending pop and R&B. The record revisits the retro, ‘90s styles used on Yours Truly while adding in blends of EDM-influenced sonics and more piano-driven ballads. Again, the album calls on a number of chart-topping hip-hop artists like Big Sean, The Weeknd, Childish Gambino, and A$AP Ferg. While her selection of features could be argued as a typical ploy to gain urban radio spins, the hip-hop collaborations seemed to compliment Ariana’s already sultry vocals in a way that felt genuine.

It’s one thing to mimic from an underrepresented genre without surrounding yourself with collaborators who truly understand the culture. That doesn’t seem to be the case with My Everything, however, as it credits a handful of prominent songwriters and producers within the R&B community. “Break Your Heart Right Back” featuring Childish Gambino credits Nile Rodgers, Andrew “Pop” Wansel (Kanye West’s “To The World,” Tory Lanez’s “Say It”), and Bernard Edwards (who also penned Diana Ross’ 1980 disco classic, “I’m Coming Out”) as songwriters. Interestingly enough, Diddy, Ma$e, and Notorious B.I.G. also have writing credits on the song, thanks to an identifiable element of the song that mimics Big’s “Mo Money Mo Problems.”

Rodney Jerkins and KeY Wane are cited as major producers on the album. Wane produced Big Sean and Drake’s explosive break-up song “IDFWU” and Jazmine Sullivan’s “Insecure” before going on to work on Ariana’s opening record “Best Mistake.” Likewise, Jerkins produced Brandy and Monica’s 1998 hit “The Boy Is Mine” and Toni Braxton’s “He Wasn’t Man Enough” (1996), Destiny’s Child’s “Say My Name” (1999) before going on to Ari’s “Hands on Me” single.

My Everything is a clear stepping stone up from Yours Truly. She eventually moved away from particularly nostalgic sounds of ‘50s rhythm and blues, with contemporary elements of the genre still prevalent in her later albums.

Dangerous Woman (2016)

Dangerous Woman, Grande’s third studio album, is the first time we see the pop diva venturing away from classic doo-wop tempos. Instead, she incorporates more bass-heavy beats, reggae influences, and vocal riffs and ad-libs, all of which would appeal to a more urban and current musical market. The album’s pre-released singles, “Dangerous Woman” and “Side to Side,” demonstrate her experimentation with different compositions and octaves. The former is a mid-tempo, R&B ballad that flexes her vocal range. “Side to Side” called on frequent collaborator Nicki Minaj to deliver on a reggae-pop, sex anthem. It was co-written by Ilya Salmanzadeh, who has also written for Jennifer Lopez.

In addition to Salmanzadeh, the project’s most notable contributors include Ariana’s best friend and singer-songwriter, Victoria McCants (professionally known as Victoria Monét). McCants penned “Let Me Love” alongside Lil Wayne, who is also featured on the track. The single also includes interpolations of Jeremih, Tunechi, and Natasha Mosley’s 2013 record, “All the Time.”

Dangerous Woman’s citations are not as chock-full with prominent hip-hop producers and writers as her first two projects. Even so, the album’s musical makeup undoubtedly incorporates a number of tracks that balance dance-pop with R&B.

Sweetener (2018)

While Sweetener doesn’t necessarily sound the same as My Everything, its composition returns back to Grande’s initial DNA, which is in part due to Pharrell Williams. Williams produced and co-wrote seven out of the 15 tracks on the project with a fairly noticeable inclusion of house, funk, and hip-hop production.

The singer’s inclination for R&B ballads as seen on Dangerous Woman, reappeared on Sweetener’s second single, “God Is A Woman.” The slow-burning track, written and produced by Salmanzadeh, is an effortless attempt at utilizing a rhythmic beat and seductive riffs with choral background vocals on a “trap-pop” track. Playing with contemporary R&B and introducing trap sounds would eventually become the formula for the rest of the album. Songs like “R.E.M.,” “Better Off” (produced by Hit-Boy”), and “Borderline” featuring Missy Elliott seem to demonstrate this. “R.E.M.” also uses the same sample as Beyonce’s unreleased demo track, “Wake Up” (Bey’s demo was quickly removed after leaking on Apple Music).

Sweetener starts to show Ariana's progression in her musical palette. Although she still blends her pop tunes with R&B and hip-hop, fans start to see her experiment with more modern trap sounds.

thank u, next (2019)

And now we have arrived at Ariana Grande’s latest music release and the heart of the controversy, thank u, next. Ariana has evolved her musical palette, but not diverted. The album incorporates much more contemporary elements. It continues to experiment with “trap-pop” as first seen on Sweetener. Some elements of her original artistry, such as tapping into ‘50s and ‘60s influences are still present, however.

The album, while much more contemporary and urban than her previous works, still invites back frequent collaborators, including Monét and Salmanzadeh, as well as new faces. Kandi Burruss, member of classic R&B girl group Xscape and co-songwriter of TLC’s “No Scrubs,” penned the record “break up with your boyfriend, i’m bored,” which uses trap, snare drums and broken verses. Priscilla Renea, who penned Rihanna’s “California King Bed,” also co-wrote “imagine,” which is assumed to discuss her past relationship with the late Mac Miller.

The intro to “fake smile” begins with a sample of Memphis soul singer Wendy Rene’s 1964 song “After Laughter (Come Tears).” It’s the same sample that was worked into Wu-Tang Clan’s 1993 banger, “Tearz.” The song then unfolds into a beat reminiscent of Eve and Gwen Stefani’s early 2000s track, “Let Me Blow Ya Mind.”

Although various songs on thank u, next sound appropriated to the newfound listener, it is arguably Ari’s natural music evolution considering her past projects. To criticize the album or 2019 Grande because you don’t like artistic direction or sound is one thing. But blindly pointing the finger at her for drawing influences and sampling a genre she had always dabbled in, is a big reach.

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J Stone Talks Touring, Nipsey Hussle, New Music And More

It was all good just two weeks ago. On Thursday (March 12), I headed downtown to meet with West Coast rapper J Stone, who was set to make a comeback performance at the legendary SOB’s. Little did we know, COVID-19 was on the cusp of shutting the entire country down, let alone the city that never sleeps. Earlier that day, New York City Governor Andrew Cuomo announced his decision to ban gatherings of 500 people or more.

I enter the doors of the popular music venue a little after 6 pm and see J Stone on stage for soundcheck. Twenty minutes later, he greets me with a hug and we head downstairs to the green room. He asks me if I want anything to drink and I reply, “Vodka with a splash of cranberry, please.” He kindly comes back with drinks in hand and our interview begins.

I curiously ask him if the Coronavirus has affected his #LoyaltyOverRoyalty Tour and he immediately responds, “Not until today. It’s starting to affect me today. They’re telling me only a certain amount of people can come into buildings.

"They already canceled one of my L.A. meet-and-greets," he adds. "Yeah, it’s serious.” We continued our conversation talking about The Marathon Continues (TMC) and Puma collaboration, Nipsey Hussle, new music and much more.

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Afro Nation

Women Of Afro Nation On Evolving Dancehall and Afro-Pop Connections

Last summer, thousands of music lovers of African descent gathered on the sands of Portimao, Portugal, waved their beloved countries’ flags and witnessed performances from the best in afro-pop, reggae, and hip-hop at Afro Nation, the premier traveling beach festival unifying music of the African diaspora. This was a euphoric scene for acts who had never performed for a large Black festival crowd, Afro Nation co-founder and U.K. music industry veteran Obi Asika tells VIBE. Nigerian promoter Adesegun Adeosun Jr., aka SMADE, and business partner Asika saw a need for a space to celebrate African music in Europe and created a globetrotting festival as the answer. Most of the featured acts have been from Nigeria, where the music industry is rapidly growing, the U.K., and Jamaica. As the festival evolves, Afro Nation will feature more artists of African descent from Europe, Central Africa, Latin America, and more.

“I want this event to be reflective of all African people,” Afro Nation co-founder and U.K. music industry veteran Obi Asika tells VIBE. “I also want it to pay homage to the countries that the events are in,” he adds. Afro Nation is expanding to reach fans of the diaspora in more regions. In December 2019, the festival was held in Accra, Ghana. In March, Afro Nation was scheduled for San Juan, Puerto Rico, but was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The four-day line-up would have featured 30 artists representing afro-pop, dancehall, soca, and hip-hop. Afro Nation still has festivals scheduled in Portimao, Portugal, in July, and Baja California, Mexico, in September. There are plans for at least one more location in the future, Osika says.

Afro Nation’s platform thus far reflects a global moment in which musicians across the African diaspora are blending sounds in new ways that are changing popular music. Connections between Afro-pop and Jamaican dancehall are especially evolving according to artists on Afro Nation’s line-ups, such as Jamaican dancehall artist Shenseesa, South African rapper Sho Madjozi, and Nigerian pop artist Teni the Entertainer. “Afro Nation is major for the continent, the culture, and the commonality that we share no matter how far we have all drifted into different parts of the world,” Teni, who performed at previous Afro Nation events, wrote in an email.

For Women’s History Month, VIBE spoke to the three sensations about their latest music, why Afro Nation is a game-changing platform, the evolving musical connections between Jamaican and African artists, and their women inspirations in music.

SHENSEEA

Shenseea, a versatile singjay, deejay, rapper, and singer, grew up in Jamaica’s capital city Kingston. The 23-year-old broke out as dancehall’s most promising star in 2016 with the flirty “Loodi” featuring Vybez Kartel. Since then, she has released a steady stream of energetic records, showering each riddim with conviction and lyrics of self-reliance that speak to women and girls like “Shen Yeng Anthem,” “Trending Gyal” and “Blessed.” Shenseea is inspired by fellow Jamaican dancehall artist Spice, Nicki Minaj, and Rihanna, who she calls “a complete boss.”

Thus far, Shenseea has collaborated with dancehall veterans like Sean Paul, and internationally with Trinidadian soca star Nailah Blackman and American rappers Swae Lee and Tyga. American hip-hop and Jamaican dancehall artists are common cross-cultural link-ups. But now Shenseea says there are more musical connections between popular Jamaican dancehall artists and African-based artists too. “I feel like it has been going on, but more so between the reggae artists,” she says. “Now it's evolving more between dancehall artists and African artists.”

Here is a quick history. Popular music in the Americas, including Jamaica’s biggest musical export reggae, is rooted in West African music. Reggae has several influences including Jamaican folk music mento and American R&B, and its predecessors ska and rocksteady. During the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, enslaved West Africans brought their rhythms to Jamaica and subsequent generations reimagined the sounds that circled back to Africa. Late reggae legend Bob Marley, a Pan-Africanist, and The Wailers toured the continent in the late 1970s and early 1980s. During this era, artists like Ivorian musician Alpha Blondy created a marriage of their traditional sounds and stories of home with the socially-conscious riddims birthing African reggae.

As technology digitized music production, dancehall music evolved out of reggae and dub music and  defined a younger generation in Jamaica. It would also inspire African artists, too. In the 2000s and 2010s, dancehall influenced “Afro-dancehall” artists Shatta Wale and AK Songstress of Ghana, and Patoranking and Wizkid of Nigeria. Ghanaian hiplife’s soft synths and dancehall’s percussion are said to have influenced the popular Nigerian sound “pon pon,” in 2017, according to OkayAfrica. DaVido’s inescapable “If,” is the most commercially successful “pon pon” track. Mr Eazi’s “Banku” style also borrows from Nigerian and Ghanaian pop and dancehall. With this has come more collaborations across the genres. Like Jamaican dancehall hitmaker Popcaan enlisting DaVido for “Dun Rich” in 2018, and Burna Boy collaborating with Serani and Jeremih on “Secret” in 2019.

The marriage between these sounds is impacting how Black fans experience music worldwide, which is especially pushed by second and third generations of people who migrated from Africa and the Caribbean to the Americas and Europe. In major cities, you’ll find Afro-Caribbean parties, where DJs play music across the diaspora. Afro Nation takes it to the next level by bringing these artists together on a bill.

The innovation of this sound is a diaspora-wide project. In the mid-to-late 2010s, UK, British artists J Hus and Afro B popularized the fusion of Afro-pop, dancehall, American and British hip-hop, and R&B music, in new genres known as “afro bashment” or “afroswing.” In 2019, Jamaican-American DJ Walshy Fire’s 2019 Abeng brought together afro-pop, with soca, and dancehall artists. Shenseea has some diaspora link-ups on the horizon. She already worked with Shatta Wale, the African dancehall king, on “The Way I Move” in 2018. Recently, she recorded an unreleased track with Mr Eazi and is in talks to work with Patoranking and Davido, she tells Vibe.

TENI THE ENTERTAINER

Teni is also tuned into these evolving connections between the Caribbean and Africa. “You can hear it in the drums and melodies,” the 27-year-old singer and songwriter says. “We love to have fun and dance and that extends into our music.” In 2019, the New York Times dubbed Teni a member of the new guard of Nigerian musicians. In October, she released her Billionaire EP which showcases her afrobeat fusion. The title was inspired by her time in Los Angeles. "I saw all these great cars and I just imagined a world where we can all afford things we like no matter the price," she says. On the Pheelz-produced afrobeat, she croons her wealthy ambitions. On the earnest “Complain” she singraps over JaySynths' afroswing beat.

Teni’s entertainment career began with her comedic viral videos. Her breakout hit was the 2017 “Fargin,” which spoke out about the harms of rape culture. Teni admires African music legends Brenda Fassi, Angelique Kidjo, and Mariam Makeba. Them "using the power of their music to influence governments and shape economies is beyond incredible,” she says.

In the future, Teni wants to experiment with more Caribbean artists. “I have gotten into the studio with Kranium and I'd like to still do a lot [more] with him,” she said of the Jamaican singjay who fuses dancehall and R&B. “I'd love to do something with Koffee. Her music is amazing,” she added.

SHO MADJOZI

Koffee, a Jamaican reggae artist who won over the world with “Toast” last year, and is the first woman to win a Grammy for best reggae album, is on South African rapper Sho Madjozi’s wishlist too. For generations, South African artists like Lucky Dube and NC Dread have embraced reggae and dancehall. The 27-year-old wants to contribute to this tradition by recording with Koffee and rising reggae singer Lila Ike. "The song would be about the fact that our joy does not come from having no problems,” she wrote via email. “It comes despite going through tough things.” Bringing her pain to the studio has proven to be viable for Madjozi.

On her biggest hit, the viral “John Cena,” named after her favorite WWE wrestler, she raps over a hard-hitting gqom beat, the popular South African electronic dance music, about heartbreak. On her 2018 debut album Limpopo Champions League, which is dedicated to the northern province she hails from in South Africa, you can hear more of her sonic influences which include the high-energy gqom on "Wakanda Forever," trap on “Wa Penga Na?” and R&B samples on “Going Down.”

Although Sho Madjozi and fellow artists are fusing the diaspora sounds in their music, she sees the Afro Nation platform as a necessary space for people of African descent to share these cultures in person. In these moments, “we notice how strong we really are" and "how powerful this gift of culture is,” she says. Hip-hop queen Lauryn Hill is her icon and inspired her to stand firm in her truth. Madjozi’s realness shapes her assertive lyrics and her vibrant style. She performs in “xibelani” skirts to pay homage to her Tsonga heritage, a group of people native to Mozambique and South Africa. She adorns her hair with her signature colorful Fulani braids. “My whole statement is to be free,” she says. “I hope it shows Black girls everywhere to not be shy or small. This world is ours as much as anyone else’s.”

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Courtesy of Universal Music Latin Entertainment

Karol G On The Magic Of "Tusa," Working With Nicki Minaj And New Album

Karol G's devoted intentions have kept her ahead of the history books.

As Women's History Month comes to a close, the reggaeton titan solidified her position just weeks prior on Internation Women's Day as Spotify included her in their list of the Top 10 Most-Streamed Female Artists. Others included were Billie Eilish, Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande in addition to iconic women of color like Nicki Minaj. But Karol's presence on the list proves just how she's been able to bridge the gap between Latin and pop music as the only woman on the list who primarily performs in Spanish.

It's something Karol, born Carolina Giraldo Navarro, has done since coming up in the male-dominated reggaeton scene. While plenty of her hits over the years have earned a coveted spot in the hearts of millions, it was her recent recording with Nicki Minaj that reminded everyone of her power.

"I grew up listening to her and we were sitting at the table across from each other," Karol says of "Tusa" and its insanely popular video that has 669 million views and counting on YouTube. "That was an iconic moment for me."

The song's title is Colombian slang for heartache after a breakup. On the regal reggaeton bop, Karol has Minaj rapping in Spanish as they promise to one another to eliminate those feels on the dance floor. The Tusa-terminators made history in late 2019 with the release as the song is the first collaboration by women to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Latin Songs chart.

On the all-genre Hot 100 chart, "Tusa" impressively peaked at No. 42. Amid the coronavirus outbreak, self-quarantines in Panama were recently singing the song together from their balconies.

¿Cómo lleva el #ToqueDeQueda Panamá? Pues que más que con @karolg y #Tusa #COVIDー19 #PTY #QuedateEnCasa pic.twitter.com/jSNsEeaoUW

— errol (@erscr) March 23, 2020

For Karol, success like this has been over a decade in the making since signing her first contract in 2006 under her G stage name. At that time, reggaeton music was reigning over the globe thanks to Puerto Rican rapper Daddy Yankee's "Gasolina" setting the movement ablaze in 2004.

The música urbana genre was very much a man's world with a few women who were able to rise to the level of Yankee like Ivy Queen, someone Karol cites as an influence. "With the urbano music I wanted to do, there were not a lot of women," she says. "I love urbano rhythms. They've always fascinated me."

In the early steps of her career, Karol took advantage of the art of collaboration with Nicky Jam on 2013's "Amour de Dos," Ozuna on "Hello" in 2016 and a budding rapper by the name of Bad Bunny on 2017's "Ahora Me Llama." Her method was mindful and direct as she gained new fans in every pocket of reggaeton's wide-ranging cloth.

"They had a big audience and following," she says. "The way I got my opportunity as an artist and was able to be heard more was, in part, thanks to them." Later that year, Karol's debut album Unstoppable landed at No. 2 on the Top Latin Albums chart.

As she became the feature queen in her own right, Karol dropped "Mi Cama" in 2018 which led to her winning the gramophone for Best New Artist at the Latin Grammy Awards that year. "I love to sing in reggaeton, but it's not the only thing I do," she says about her diverse palette. The spirited 2019 release of Ocean showcased the vastness of her artistry with urbano, reggae, and pop influences.

With "Tusa" previewing her third album, VIBE VIVA spoke with Karol about her musical journey so far and what's coming next.

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VIBE: On physical copies of Unstoppable, there's the #GirlPower stamp. What inspired you to include it? 

Karol G: I have that tattooed on one of my arms as well because for me, it was a frustration that people in the media were telling me, "You're a woman. You don't have anything to do here. You can't enter here." There are women that can achieve things around the world. That's where my motivation comes from: to show that we, and myself as a woman, can do it. That was important for me to put on the album to show my support for this movement.

"Mi Cama" became one of your biggest hits without a featured artist. What's the story behind that song?

I loved that song because it has the attitude that I feel right now. It's a song about a woman talking to her ex-boyfriend who left her for someone else. It has the attitude to keep going, to keep dancing, or perrear (a twerk-like dance associated with reggaeton). In Mexico, I was in a press conference and a female reporter said, "I don't respect how you as a woman are singing about your bed making noise. You have to think about the children." I said, "This isn't music for children." It's a song that's exaggerated. I'm not swearing on it. I always tell that story at my shows and people love it.

How did you feel to win the Latin Grammy for Best New Artist?

That's one of the top five moments in my career. I dreamed of that moment since I was a little girl. When I was nominated, that was huge. I didn't think I was going to win. When I won, my mind went blank. I took my dad on stage with me because he's been supporting me since the beginning. After winning the grammy, my mindset has been what else I can do in my career that's even bigger.

You have recorded a lot of music with your fiancé Puerto Rican rapper Anuel AA. How do you like working with him?

We're a super team. We complement each other well. We understand each other well because we've enjoyed many great moments together. We've gotten to travel together. We did a tour together. It's a beautiful thing. We keep each other focused and motivated with our feet on the ground.

What do you think about the reaction and all the memes around "Tusa"?

I felt in my heart the song would be successful, but I never thought that it would be a global hit. It opened doors for me in markets where I've never had songs hit before. It's charting in countries that don't speak Spanish like France, Italy, and Sweden. Seeing all the memes from the people has been muy brutal (Puerto Rican slang for "beyond awesome"). It's been incredible to see so many men connecting with it. To see all the people dancing and singing to it has been a surprise. I hope my next single will be like that, but for now, it's nice to enjoy what's happening with "Tusa."

Speaking of men, many gay men been bumping "Tusa" too. I was wondering if you had a message for your fans in the LGBTQ+ community.

I love having part of my following from that community. I love people who can go out into the world and be fearless. I'm very proud of that because the world really lacks people like that: people with personality, attitude, and a strong will. That's something I admire very much from that community. They have a beautiful energy.

What are your plans for the rest of this year?

I'm happy because I'm working on a lot of music. I've gotten great invitations to work on projects with other artists. Right now I'm collaborating with artists in the Latin and Anglo markets. There are songs that are coming out very soon. It's a year for expanding and globalizing my name. We have a tour in Latin America and one in Europe again. We're going to end the second semester of the tour in the US with the release of my next album.

What do you see for the future of women in reggaeton music?

There's things I hope to evolve a little more, but I feel like we knocked over the door. That we've come through and people are hearing us. People are coming to our concerts. Artists are inviting us to their shows. We're here. I try to stick up for myself more as a human being. We're all talented in our own ways. I feel like women are demonstrating that. It's an era where women are taking chances and going for bigger things.

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