The Amazing Story Behind Nicky Jam & Enrique Iglesias' 'El Perdon'

Nicky Jam
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Nicky Jam

The 2015 hit is the second-longest No. 1 on Billboard's Hot Latin Songs chart.

Nicky Jam first visited the Billboard charts in the 2000s, at around the same time as Daddy Yankee. But while Yankee became a superstar, Jam’s career was derailed by drug and alcohol abuse. That is, until 2015, when after scoring two minor hits, Jam hit the top of the Hot Latin Songs chart -- which just celebrated its 30th anniversary on Oct. 4 -- in spectacular fashion with “El Perdón.”

The track, which Jam wrote and then recorded with Enrique Iglesias, spent a total of 30 weeks at No. 1, second only to Iglesias' own “Bailando.” “El Perdón” debuted on Billboard’s Hot Latin Songs chart Feb. 21, 2015, at No. 50 and rose to No. 1 on March 21 that same year. It was the first No. 1 for Nicky Jam (Nick Rivera Caminero) at 35 years old. His return to the charts, after years spent in Colombia redefining his sound, is one of perseverance, redemption and a damn good song.

Here’s the story (a shorter version was published in Billboard magazine in 2015):

1. The Comeback Kid: Nicky Jam

“Musicians are bad at love because we travel a lot, and it inspired me to write something about this girl that I lost and I have to get her back. I felt the melody was a hit, and I had to write the perfect words. Enrique fell in love with ‘Travesuras’ [Nicky Jam’s comeback hit, which hit No. 4 on Hot Latin Songs in December]. He was into my story, because normally when a reggaetón artist leaves, he doesn’t come back. I was an embarrassment. And when he read about me, he was obsessed about doing something with me. He reached out to me [through a friend]. We spoke for five hours. I can’t believe I have a song with him. I promised God I wouldn’t touch no drugs, no alcohol, no nothing, and he’s paying me."

2. The Co-Sign: Enrique Iglesias 

“I’ve been a fan of Nicky Jam’s for a while. His career is as long as mine, and what’s interesting is how he started with Daddy Yankee, they split, and he moved to Colombia and how that shook his musical style and his lyrics. I usually write or co-write most of my songs. But when he sent me the song, I called him up and I said, I love it. I don’t care that I didn’t write it.”

3. The Executive: Nir Seroussi, President of Sony Music U.S. Latin

"We signed him on a Thursday and we released the song on a Friday. It’s easy to be a genius and say, it was going to be a hit, but truth is, it was a big song. And Nicky is hot. He has a very particular flow. If he’d released 'El Perdón' two years ago, maybe it wouldn’t have this impact. But a big part of the success has to do with what he’s built the past two years. It’s a sound that’s huge right now all over the continent. There were three main assets: The initial lyric video, the lyric video with Enrique and the official video. It was a viral hit. At one point Neymar [the soccer player] put up a clip of himself singing the song on Instagram and it had 600,000 likes in less than 24 hours. We did digital campaigns. Radio came later and consolidated the hit."