In July, members of the Miami media were invited to a listening session for "Life," Ricky Martin's first English-language album since 2000's "Sound Loaded."

In July, members of the Miami media were invited to a listening session for "Life," Ricky Martin's first English-language album since 2000's "Sound Loaded." It was a nice affair, with good food and drink and a great sound system. What set it apart, however, was Martin himself. The Puerto Rican star not only appeared, but also made a point of personally greeting everyone in the room, from top radio programmers to community newspaper reporters.

"I hope I'm not the same artist I was five years ago, because it would be impossible," says Martin, who has spent much of the past two years dedicated to philanthropic endeavors. "Life -- where it takes you, what you see, what you read -- changes you. Definitely, when I began to create for this album, the one thing I wanted was to not even attempt to do what I had already done. That's why I played with many genres I hadn't visited before, and I made them mine."

The new genres include the world beat of "'Til I Get to You" and the hip-hop feel of "I Don't Care," which features Fat Joe and Amerie. The track was sent to radio Aug. 30 in English, Spanish and reggaet├│n versions, all of which are included on the album.

The older, calmer Martin seems ready to embrace the new, but also to continue to build on his past. In other words, do not expect hits like "The Cup of Life" and "Livin' La Vida Loca" to disappear from that reality. They will both be part of his next tour, performed, he says, more energetically than ever.

"I can humbly say they are songs that marked an era," Martin says. "They are meaningful, and it's marvelous to go into a restaurant and still have people say to you: 'Hey, ale, ale, ale.'"