Nicky Jam: A Love Supreme
For VIBE Viva's February 2020 cover story, Nicky Jam shares how his past dictates his future.
Love has neurological effects similar to those of cocaine. That’s what researchers from Syracuse University discovered in a study called “The Neuroimaging of Love.” According to science, falling in love triggers the same feeling of ecstasy experienced by people when they consume the drug.
What’s more, the withdrawal of love—or the emotional mourning that transpires after a serious breakup, for instance—can result in what is called Broken Heart Syndrome, also known as stress-induced cardiomyopathy. The chest pain, characterized as sudden and intense, can rear its ugly head no matter how healthy one might be.
So when one of the biggest reggaeton singers to ever walk the planet tells me he resorted to the use of narcotics after an unexpected breakup during his formative years, I was all but flabbergasted. A 15-year-old Nick “Nicky Jam” Rivera Caminero had slipped into subterranean levels of depression in the face of cyclical family trauma, maternal abandonment and, ultimately, adolescent heartache.
“That’s when I touched cocaine for the first time,” and Nicky experienced a coke-induced euphoria that he spent the following 15 years trying to reproduce. Not long after recording his first album in 1994, …Distinto A Los Demás, Nicky set on a path of years under the devilish grips of chronic addiction that saw him rise to teen fame in Puerto Rico and practically fade into oblivion by his mid-20s.
I had never seen eyes like that before. I just went crazy. Yeah, there’s a lot of blue eyes, but something about her eyes drove me crazy. We were flirting around and everybody started to watch, and we just didn’t care that people were there. We were just at it and it didn’t matter who was in the room. The video was about us. About me trying to win her over, and it worked. [Laughs]
Do you see a life with her?
Yeah. You also have to understand my background, where I come from and how I lost so many people in life. So my mind doesn’t necessarily… I try not to really think about it like that. I just try my best to enjoy [the present].
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Is that what your “Life” tattoo is about?
It’s the only thing that matters, life and living it to your fullest. The word is a beautiful word. I don’t think there’s a more beautiful word. Other than God, maybe.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Photographer: Jason Chandler, Finalis Valdez
Art Designer: Nicole Tereza
Videographers: Dexterity Productions
Wardrobe Stylists: Norma Castro