Here’s What To Look Forward to at Billboard Latin Week 2021

Myke Towers, Rauw Alejandro
Jonathan Mannion, 90thshooter

Myke Towers & Rauw Alejandro

After a year gone virtual, Billboard Latin Music Week returns live, celebrating a revenue explosion fueled by the rise in streaming and return to touring. Five days of star-packed panels, concerts and showcases include these highlights — plus the Billboard Latin Music Awards, airing live on Telemundo on Sept. 23.

“Coming Out Latin” (Sept. 21)

Over the past few years, a landmark number of Latin artists have come out — including electro-cumbia singer Raymix, who opened up about being gay in a five-minute YouTube video last year. He’ll join Esteman, Erika Vidrio and Grupo Firme’s Jhonny Caz for a revealing conversation on their experiences as LGBTQ+ Latin acts, with moderator Eder Díaz of podcast De Pueblo, Católico y Gay.

BMI’s “How I Wrote That Song” With The Women Of Regional Mexican (Sept. 21)

Ana Bárbara and newcomers Lupita Infante, Adriana Rios and Ivonne Galaz are all making inroads in various subgenres of the historically male-dominated regional Mexican music scene. BMI creative director of Latin Teresa Romo moderates a chat in which they’ll reflect on the state of their thriving part of the industry, share the barriers they’ve faced and how they wrote some of their most memorable songs.

“How HBO Max Is Taking Sounds To Screen” (Sept. 21)

In the past year alone, HBO Max has showcased its deep commitment to producing and airing Latin music-based content, developing original franchises like A Tiny Audience and Piano y Mujer, plus specials by Juan Luis Guerra, Beatriz Luengo and Farruko — the latter of whom will join producers and executives in a conversation on the strategy behind the music onscreen, underscoring why culturally relevant, high-quality Latin-based content makes for good business.

“The Sony Publishing Iconic Songwriter Q&A” With Tainy (Sept. 21)

The top producer in the Latin market (with an astounding 96 weeks at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Latin Producers chart as of Sept. 1), Tainy is fast becoming a top songwriter, too. “Reggaetón used to have a very specific sound,” says the finalist for both producer and songwriter of the year at the Billboard Latin Music Awards, whose résumé includes Bad Bunny’s “Yonaguni” and Kali Uchis’ “Telepatía.” “Now, everything has shifted, and urban music has a little bit of everything.” He’ll discuss his approach to creative and business ventures alike, including the label and studio he runs under the Neon16 brand.

Cultura Clash Live: A Conversation On Social Justice” (Sept. 22)

Billboard’s new topical video series films live with host and YouTube artist relations manager AJ Ramos leading a conversation on social justice in the Latin music world. The artists joining include Yotuel Romero, whose “Patria y Vida” has become the soundtrack to current protests in Cuba; Goyo and husband Tostao of ChocQuibTown, among the first artists to lead conversations on race relations in Latin music and culture; and Kany García, a vocal advocate for LGBTQ+ and women’s rights.

“Mano A Mano” With Myke Towers And Rauw Alejandro (Sept. 22)

Puerto Rican hitmakers Rauw Alejandro and Myke Towers are two of the freshest faces in urbano — Towers has scored nine top 10 hits on the Hot Latin Songs chart and placed 13 tracks on the Billboard Global 200 in the past 12 months, while Alejandro secured his first No. 1 on any Billboard albums chart with Vice Versa in June. The two will sit down to discuss new projects, upcoming tours and the challenges they face as new reggaetón artists.

“Master Class: Making The Hit Live” With Chris Jedi, Gaby Music And Lunay (Sept. 22)

Earlier this year, producers Chris Jedi and Gaby Music launched La Familia Records and their own studio; signings include star act Lunay, who joins the duo for a live session in which the three Puerto Rico natives will produce a song from scratch, using their own equipment. “Most songs start with Chris’ ideas, and I’m a little bit more technical, more into the recording and the mix,” says Gaby. Expect input from Lunay, too, whose writing and vocals are integral to their music.

Go to billboardlatinmusicweek.com for the full schedule.


The Host With the Most

Nicky Jam kicks off season two of his new talk show at Latin Music Week with an onstage one-on-one with Jhay Cortez. Gleaning exclusive insights is his specialty.

He’s one of the biggest reggaetón stars today, but that’s just one of many roles Nicky Jam has taken on in his career, including actor, restaurant owner and, now, talk show host.

Last fall, he launched on his YouTube channel The Rockstar Show, in which he sits down for in-depth chats with his superstar friends to the tune of 1 million to 3 million views per episode, and over 19 million total views so far. Guests for the first nine installments included Maluma, Karol G, Luis Fonsi and Arcangel, but the real star is often the filter-free host himself.

“I interview people, and I give my opinion on a lot of things,” Nicky Jam recently told Billboard. “So if you want to know a little bit more about these artists, and get more intimate, this is a good place to see it.”

As he gears up for his second season — and soon, he says, for a deal with a streaming or TV platform — Nicky Jam will interview Jhay Cortez for a special live episode at the Faena Forum on Sept. 21. In the meantime, these nuggets from season one offer a taste of what the host has revealed about his interviewees — and himself.

On Maluma overcoming early skeptics: “You had to work harder than anyone else. You went through thick and thin. There’s a lot of haters, but you even shut me up.”

On Karol G’s business savvy: “You always spoke to me with authority. We were talking about labels, and I really didn’t believe in them [at the time]. But you gave me all those reasons, and I thought, ‘Look at this little girl telling me these things.’ And she was right.”

On why he wasn’t part of "Despacito”: “It’s no secret [Luis Fonsi and I] were going to do the song together. The song didn’t come out with me simply because I was releasing ‘El Amante’ and timing didn’t coincide. I had to get out of that huge hit ... In a way, I thank God I didn’t because [Daddy] Yankee was the right man for the job.”

This story originally appeared in the Sept. 18, 2021, issue of Billboard.

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