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HomeEntertainmentWith Co-Writers From Reggaeton Titans, Myke Towers Aims For Latin Music Stardom

With Co-Writers From Reggaeton Titans, Myke Towers Aims For Latin Music Stardom


Outside the Crypto.com arena in January, a frenzy of young Latinos gathered for Calibash, Los Angeles’ annual urban music festival hosted by local radio station Mega 96.3.

With his performance sandwiched between MCs Jhay Cortez and Arcángel, 29-year-old rapper Myke Towers, the genius from Río Piedras, Puerto Rico, was eager to stand out in front of thousands of Angelenos.

Onstage, Towers emerged from a cloud of mist sporting a large pair of canary-yellow sunglasses and the gait of a heavyweight boxing champion. He began his 30-minute set with the first song that landed him in the US Latin mainstream: “Si Se Da,” a reggaeton worm he wrote with hitmaker Farruko in 2019. However, in two songs, Towers opted to ditch the statement nuances: If you’re going to make an impression, he decided, it’s more effective to come face-to-face with your audience.

A couple of days earlier, inside the lobby of the 1 West hotel on Sunset Boulevard, Towers walked up in a gray tracksuit with a spiky texture, like the surface of the moon. The March 23 release of her third studio album, “La Vida Es Una,” has been delayed twice, in part due to her relentless pursuit of perfection.

“It gave me a massive headache,” Towers, born Michael Torres, said of whittling down his starting 50 tracks to the final 23.

“La Vida Es Una” (which could also be interpreted as “You only live once”) is something of a graduation ceremony for Towers. With his 2020 chart-topping debut “Easy Money Baby” and its 2021 follow-up “Lyke Myke,” Towers stood out with a flow of street Spanish, ripped straight from New York rappers like the Notorious BIG and 50 Cent. However, with a bit of sugar and a simmering dembow beat, Towers’ gristly timbre morphed into a warm, caramel tone of his own.

Myke Towers performs at Calibash at Crypto.com Arena on January 22.

(Raul Roa / Los Angeles Times)

On his latest record, Towers’ melodic versatility becomes the focal point, as he glides effortlessly through trap, afrobeats and reggae sounds. And in collaborations with Daddy Yankee, Ozuna and J Balvin, reggaeton titans who accelerated the genre’s crossover into the international mainstream during the 2010s, Towers, once a young king of Puerto Rico’s underground trap, now claims a seat. at your table.

The album comes 10 years after Towers took the stage at his first performance, at a club in Old San Juan called Caliente; the trick to beating stage fright on that fateful night in 2013, he explains, is the same one that has punished him every night since.

“I didn’t see the stage as a stage,” he said. “I looked at it like my first day on the job.”

For an island with a population of just 3.2 million people, fewer than the population of Los Angeles County by more than half a million, Puerto Ricans have left a huge mark on Latin popular music, ever since the salsa craze of the 1980s. from 1960 fanned by Willie Colón and Héctor. Lavoe to the world pop lead for Bad Bunny.

“We are the trendsetters,” Towers said. “We will make music that people will remember for 20 years.”

Bred on the founding records of the 2000s by Don Omar and Tego Calderón, Towers is part of a rising tide of Puerto Rican MCs fighting for prominence on the world stage. Of this new generation, Towers was the emerging artist worth betting on, says Héctor Rubén Rivera, Warner Music Latina’s senior vice president and director of A&R.

“Her business is music, and she takes it seriously,” said Rivera, who signed with Towers in 2021. “His confidence and performance remind me of OG rappers in the US.”

Born on January 15, 1994, in the town of Río Piedras, home to the University of Puerto Rico, Towers grew up in neighboring Quintana, where he listened to his parents’ reggaeton CDs, played basketball with his friends and narrowly avoided trouble. . with the authorities.

“I was a naughty child,” he said. “And if he wasn’t doing bad things, he usually knew who was to blame. I was the leader.”

At the urging of his friends, Towers recorded a handful of freestyles on SoundCloud, most of which “will never see the light of day again,” he says with a laugh. The oldest surviving is a hearty Spanish freestyle from 2014 titled “The New Drug”, or “The New Drug”, which elevates the alchemist’s piano loop from “keep it thoro”, the 2000 classic by New York rapper Prodigy.

“I was always drawn to the sound of hip-hop,” he said. “I studied it closely. At first I wanted to sound like that, but obviously I had to adapt to what we do in Puerto Rico. In other words, I was born in the cradle of reggaeton”.

After captivating Puerto Rico’s trap underground with his 2016 mixtape, “El Final del Principio,” Towers spent the rest of the decade strengthening his catalog with collaborations with then-rising stars like Eladio Carrión, Rauw Alejandro and Bad Bunny.

As trap and reggaetón became dominant forces in Latin music’s historic global expansion, Towers carefully considered his next move. She crossed over into the commercial Latin pop realm in 2019 with “Dollar,” a flirty collaboration with Chicano star Becky G; It wasn’t long before she was fielding calls to work with Selena Gomez, Anitta, and Cardi B.

Where another rapper might have identified such a move as a threat to his street cred, Towers found a new outlet for expression.

“I think of (popping) as putting on a different hat or a superhero suit,” he explained. “Like when the occasion calls for being romantic, I’ll be the romantic. Without going into details… it’s a very cold world we live in, you know? If you meet someone who brings out the best in you, you should enjoy it.”

In January 2020, Towers and his longtime girlfriend welcomed their first child, Shawn. Unsurprisingly, it was Towers’ idea to name his son after his favorite rapper: Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter.

“My son became number 1,” said Towers, who posed cradling Shawn on the cover of “Easy Money Baby.” Shawn, now 3, is quick to imitate his dad’s every move: “When I go to the barber to get a haircut, he wants one too,” Towers said with a laugh. “It is much more than giving him material things; (it’s about) working to give him that father’s love. I had to put a little discipline and sacrifice, but the reward is very great.

A young Puerto Rican MC in a gray sweatshirt

“I think of (popping) as putting on a different hat or a superhero suit,” Towers says.

(Dania Maxwell/Los Angeles Times)

It was the discipline Towers began to cultivate as a father that he says accelerated his songwriting and ultimately his career rise. “Easy Money Baby” rose to number 1 on the Top Latin Albums list and was nominated for urban music album at the 2020 Latin Grammys; Six months later, he released his second album, “Lyke Myke,” his major-label debut.

As the final chapter in what Towers calls his trilogy, “Life is One” is a testament to his maturation as a man and as a young adventurous artist from the Caribbean.

“I insert myself into different worlds from time to time, just to see what kind of essence it brings me,” he said, noting that cuts like the synth “Experiment” or the Afrobeats fusion of “Mundo Cruel” were inspired by sounds. that were foreign to him. “I always bring it back to the Caribbean.”

The musical past and present of the region runs through the new album, first in the bachata flourish of “Conocerte” with Ozuna; then on “Don and Tego,” assisted by Arcángel, a throwback to the forefront of reggaetón’s Y2K era; and in the reggae bounce of “Flow Jamaican,” which pays homage to reggaeton’s Anglophone predecessors Shabba Ranks and Bobby “Digital” Dixon.

“I know there’s a lot of controversy about where reggaeton started, but the roots of what we do come from Jamaica,” said Towers, who recorded the song with Jamaican producer Stephen “Di Genius” McGregor. “I want my songs (to reflect) the present while respecting its origins…everything is integrated in Puerto Rico, it’s a magical place.”

Colombian rapper J Balvin, a record-breaking artist who retired from the spotlight after the birth of his own son, makes a rare appearance with Towers on “Celos,” a fizzy reggaeton jam produced by Sky Rompiendo; and Daddy Yankee, now retired, joined Towers for one of his last recordings, “Ulala (Ooh La La).” “Yankee was the one who first recognized me,” Towers said, “and to this day, he understands me.”

It was Towers’ collaborations with his reggaeton idols that prompted him to envision his own longevity and impart some of the wisdom he’s acquired to the next crop of reggaeton innovators.

“Everybody wants to win, but not everyone wants to play hard,” Towers said. “I made this album hoping to inspire the next generation. People waste time when they don’t follow their dreams.”

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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