Feature

Meet Ozuna: the Latino star changing the face of reggaeton

The first time I came across reggaeton it was belting from a battered speaker on a dusty Ecuadorian street corner. It was 10pm and directly opposite my hostel so I grabbed a pair of earplugs and prayed for sleep. Latino music has a way of growing on you though, and by the time I got to Colombia a month later, I could hum along to most of the hits.

Now I think about it, I’m pretty sure some of them were by Ozuna. The 27-year-old Dominican trap and reggaeton star is rising through the ranks and despite a rocky start to 2019 – when he revealed he was extorted with an explicit video filmed when he was 16 – December has just rung around and he’s just dropped his third album, Nibiru.

It follows quickly in the wake of his Odisea debut and it’s strapping follow-up Aura – both of which met quick commercial success – and his sophomore release wastes no time in building on all that ambition which earned him multi-platinum status. This likely largely originally attributed to hits like “Taki Taki” – a fiery collab with DJ Snake, Cardi B and Selena Gomez – and his slew of further collaborations with the likes of Post Malone, Jennifer Lopez, Snoop Dogg and my favourite, Rosaliá.

To drop a couple of numbers here – I mean this guy has broken some serious records – he’s the artist with the most videos to reach 1 billion views on YouTube, and he cracked the record for most Billboard Latin Music Award nominations right down the middle, with 23 across 15 different categories; as well as the record for the most wins for a single artist, with 11.

Nibiru is packed full of collaborations with the likes of hip-hop mogul Diddy, and Swae Lee, along with some fellow Latino counterparts including lauded reggaeton veteran Nicky Jam.

Latino music has been a dominant force for years – long before “Despacito” – but it’s only recently that it’s begun to serious infiltrate mainstream pop culture.

Needless to say it’s time to brush up on that Spanish and get involved. Or at the very least just pretend like you know what’s going on.