Rauw Alejandro on ‘Vice Versa’ and changing the game of Latin music
Rauw Alejandro currently has the greatest Latin song in the world. “Todo De Ti”, which translates to “All of You” in English, dropped to No. 2 on Spotify’s Global 200 ranking last month, just behind Olivia Rodrigo. And the retro music video for the funky love song took off with the same gusto: it has over 170 million views on YouTube and there is quite a movement on TikTok surrounding the song. In the video, Alejandro engages in a dance battle with his own alter ego on an ice rink. One version of Alejandro, wearing a black leather jacket, jumps and hangs, while the other spins around on skates. There is fluidity in his movements as he seamlessly switches between the two characters, flaunting his megawatt smile on both. The world wants all this modern day song and dance man, and Alejandro is giving us just that.
A day after filming with J.Lo for his new video “Cambia El Paso”, Alejandro calls FaceTime from his hair and makeup chair. He has a loaded file and should shoot more videos for his new album Vice versa, which comes out today. “My inspiration is all showmen: like Prince, Michael Jackson, James Brown and Chayanne,” said the 27-year-old. “When I started making music, that was my vision from day one. I want to be that kid who takes the stage and channels my art through my voice and my movements.
Before becoming such an in-demand artist, Raúl Alejandro Ocasio Ruiz posted music to SoundCloud from his mother’s home in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Even back then, Alejandro never got into a club making any kind of music. And Vice versa spans the gamut, from reggaeton and the Latin trap that put him on the map to the R&B that caught the attention of his label Duars Entertainment in 2017. Alejandro owes his versatility to his multicultural upbringing; As a child, he divided his time between Puerto Rico and his father’s house in New York.
“These rock and roll bands, the oldies and soul music — all that kind of music, I learned from my dad,” recalls Alejandro. “He also played the guitar. In public relations, I grew up with reggaeton culture, salsa and merengue. I have all this mixture of flavors from my childhood.
Last November, Alejandro released his first album, Afrodisíaco, or “Aphrodisiac”, which featured Latin music heavyweights like Colombian superstar J Balvin, Boricua OGs Wisin y Yandel and Spanish singer-songwriter Rosalía. His Latin Grammy nomination later this month for Best New Artist solidified Alejandro as a force in the Latin music industry. Since the start of 2021, he has broadened his vision to the pop market, but stars of the genre, including Selena Gomez, come to see him to sing in Spanish. In January, the two teamed up for Gomez’s sultry “Baila Conmigo” Revelation EP.
“It has been an honor and a pleasure to collaborate with such a huge legend and superstar as Selena,” said Alejandro. “I want to scream Tainy: he was the producer of the song. He’s the one who called her up and said, ‘Yo, Selena, if you’re doing a Spanish record, you gotta collaborate with that kid.’ Selena is amazing and I would love to collaborate with her again.
Apparently, Tainy’s word that Alejandro was a proven hit-maker has been revealed, as a month later Alejandro was pictured at a Miami recording studio with Christina Aguilera. She is working on the long awaited sequel to her first Latin album, 2000’s Mi Reflejo.
“Another legend! said Alejandro. “It’s a GOAT [greatest of all time]. She’s working on drug stuff. I had the chance to meet her and talk about future projects. We plan to do stuff together. But that day, I was more of a fanboy. At that point, I was like, “I’m with Christina. I need to take a picture.
Alicia Keys also recently recruited Alejandro for a Spanish remix of her song “Underdog” – and now you can add Jennifer Lopez to her list of collaborators. This month, the paparazzi photographed him with J.Lo recording his music video “Cambia El Paso” in Miami. “J.Lo is the queen! adds Alejandro. “We were filming for this song, which is crazy.”
“Todo De Ti” is unlike anything Alejandro has posted before. It’s the perfect kick-off for Vice versa, the one who sees him diversifying into drum’n’bass in “Cuando Fue”, reggaeton inflected by EDM in “Sexo Virtual” and 80s-inspired synth-pop in “Desenfocau”. “It’s a game-changing album. I’m betting my whole mind on it, ”he says. Alejandro has also cut back on collaborations, featuring only singer Boricua Lyanno and Brazilian pop star Anitta on the LP.
“This album is more personal and concerns me,” he says. “Lyanno is my PR homeboy. We started together. I did Brazilian funk in ‘Brazilera’ and I was like ‘I need the OG on this record.’ We called Anitta and she killed him.
With these new songs adapted to Alejandro’s dancing abilities, his American tour will be one to watch this summer and fall. This will be his chance to show his showman side, now that Covid-19 restrictions on concerts have been lifted across the country.
“We’re putting on a crazy show that I know people have never seen from a Latin artist,” says Alejandro. “I trained so hard. I want to raise the bar for Latin music and take the Latin industry to a whole new level. I want to inspire other people as so many artists have inspired me. With a smile, he adds: “I want to be a GOAT in the future.”