"I’d never been in the newspaper in Puerto Rico. But today I was on the cover," rapper Alvaro Díaz told Genius. Things haven't always been easy for the Boricua native, as Díaz only recently garnered his first wave of success coming off his critically acclaimed EP, San Juan Grand Prix, which reached number one on the iTunes Latino charts since its Dec. 13 release. The Spanish-language spitter sat down with the music lyrics site for an hour-long interview, and discussed a multitude of topics about the peaks and valleys of the 27-year-old's career. Check out our top five takeaways from the sit-down.
His Favorite Rapper Is Kanye West
Alvaro admitted his favorite rapper is Kanye West and you can see the inspiration and impact Ye has had in Díaz's music. He also went on to talk about how Lupe Fiasco and the sonic restlessness of Kid Cudi laid the foundation for his sound.
Formula 1 driver Ayrton Senna served as the inspiration behind San Juan Grand Prix
As you can tell, Díaz is a huge racing cars fan, with his EP being properly titled. He compares life to a long race: "In Formula One, every lap has a different importance. Some laps are about being aggressive; some are about maintaining pace […] Senna was unorthodox,” Díaz relayed to Genius. "People used to think he was crazy because he did things differently."
Every song on San Juan Grand Prix represents a different lap in life
“When it starts, it’s competitive. Then it gets a little softer, then wavy, then celebratory.” The EP’s eight songs loosely depict Díaz’s internal monologue as he drives in an F1 race. “I tried to get the vocal effects to sound like I was rapping while wearing a headset in an F1 car,” he says of the album opener “Grand Prix.”
The EP earned Díaz his first number one on the iTunes Latin Charts
After its December 13 release, San Juan Grand Prix made its way to number one on the iTunes Latin charts for the first time in his career. The EP also debuted at number four on the Billboard Latin Rhythm Albums chart.
Initially his music was rejected by Puerto Rican residents
Díaz says his music resonates with audiences in Mexico and South America more than his own homeland. But with the success and buzz of his EP, San Juan Grand Prix, hopefully change is on the horizon. Before he hit number one, he said: “I’d never been in the newspaper in Puerto Rico. But today I was on the cover.”
American hip-hop is not prevalent in Puerto Rico
"In Puerto Rico, you only hear hip-hop if you have a big cousin or somebody [in America] to send it to you," he said, also noting being influenced by DJ Whoo Kid mixtapes that were given to him by a family member.
Shop Díaz's dope merchandise collection, here.