Urban/tropical/pop star Tito El Bambino, who along with fellow Puerto Rican Don Omar holds the record as top finalist for the Billboard Latin Music Awards (in 2010 he had 18 nods, same as Don Omar this year), will be one of the featured acts at the fourth annual Billboard en Concierto. The seven-stop concert series that leads up to the April 25 Billboard Latin Music Conference and Awards kicks off April 2 with four shows by young tribal pioneers (and Latin Grammy winners for Best New Artist) 3BallMTY followed by three shows by Tito El Bambino in Chicago, Miami and New York. Signed to Siente/UMLE, Tito’s current single “Por qué les mientes?” is a duet with Marc Anthony and rests at No. 5 on Billboard’s Hot Latin Songs chart this week. Tito (real name Efraín Fines Nevárez) found time to speak with Billboard from his Puerto Rico home.
You are once again a Billboard Latin Music Awards finalist this year, for Tropical Songs Artist of the Year and Latin Rhythm Albums Artist of the Year, Solo. What does it mean to be a Billboard finalist?
I’ve always said this publicly: The Billboard Awards mean a lot because as part of [reggaetón duo] Héctor & Tito at the beginning of my career, we were the first urban act to ever win a Billboard Latin Music Award. In fact, one of the pictures I have in my studio is with that album, "La Reconquista," which represents that Billboard award to me. Then, I lived a second, very important stage with 2009’s El Patrón, which gave me a record number of nominations and eight awards.
You started off as a reggaetón act but now are more of a tropical fusion act. How do you see yourself?
I’m an artist of the people. Someone who can give a broad range of listeners what they want to hear. I played in San Francisco and Los Angeles a couple of weekends ago, and the first rows were full of beautiful women in their 20s and 30s and also beautiful women in their 50s and 60s. I’ve been able to do that with my musical mix, which is tropical, urban, and also has merengue and pop. But I consider myself an artist of the people.
Your current single, “ Por qué les mientes,” tells the story of a man wronged by his ex. You perform it with Marc Anthony, which has led many to speculate it was written for him. Was that the case?
It’s a true story, but not Marc’s story [laughs]. I’ve always been very close to Marc and we have a very good friendship. But I never get involved in his personal affairs. It’s simply a great song that I thought Marc could sing with me. And beyond the fact that it’s a good song and Marc is an icon, I think listeners didn’t expect this combination. It’s a song that rings true to so many people, and it’s the story of so, so many people, that it really resonated. Not just here: It’s been No. 1 in many countries.
What’s next for the album?
We’re filming the video of “Tu Dolor,” the new single, in early April. We’ll be releasing other songs throughout the year.
What would I be surprised to learn about you?
That I sometimes get up at 2 a.m., 3 a.m., I turn on the shower, and I love to write while the shower is running. I need to hear it to get inspired.
What do you do when you’re home and don’t’ have to worry about work?
I love to cook. I love to have my friends over for a barbecue, season all the meats and cook a great sofrito [a mix of ingredients sautéed into a sauce and use to accompany many different Latin foods]. So that when people come to my house they’ll say, “Hey, Tito is also a good cook!”
To register for the Billboard Latin Music Conference, please visit: www.billboardlatinconference.com