Why apologize? After all, the tape was very much part of his private life. “You don’t have to apologize or explain anything to people,” he says. “But I have so many fans. They buy my songs, they support my tours, so I feel they do deserve an explanation. They’ve become sort of like my family,” he continues, leaning in and touching my knee. “If you made a mistake before you knew you’d be famous, that’s not the public’s problem. It’s your problem. And as a man, as a responsible adult, you have to look the public in the eye and say, ‘I’m sorry, I had no idea this would happen, yet here we are.’ And the fans, they understood.”
But the tape isn’t the end of the story. On April 3, Fret’s mother, Hilda Rodriguez, told Puerto Rico radio host Samantha Love in an on-air interview that she had texts proving Ozuna once had an “intimate relationship” with her son -- and that she was “certain” Ozuna and Saavedra had “sent [my] son to be killed,” though she did not explain why she thought that was. (She also said that Fret reached out to Ozuna about the tape and asked for a feature on one of his songs, and that Ozuna instead offered $50,000 for Fret not to release the tape.)
Asked about Rodriguez’s allegations -- which surfaced a week after our interview -- Ozuna now says, “Out of respect for him [Kevin Fret] and his family, I have nothing more to say.” The Puerto Rico Department of Justice’s Betzaida Quiñones, the state prosecutor assigned to the case, has said that Ozuna has never been a suspect or person of interest in the murder. “I am not investigating singer Ozuna,” she said in late January, in an interview after Fret’s murder, her only public remarks on the matter. “I’m also not investigating everything that has been posted on social media about whether there was an extortion or not. I’m not investigating whether there was a video or not. That is not relevant to my murder case.”
Later on the evening of the Coliseo show, the back corridors of the venue are brimming with artists on the rise and established forces like Yandel. TV and radio personalities mill about while artists hold court in their respective dressing rooms, as if it’s an entertainment-industry dorm party. While up-and-coming reggaetonero Guaynaa performs recent hits like “Rebota” and “Mi Leona,” Ozuna’s manager, Saavedra, sums up why his client chose to perform as just one member of the lineup for Molusco’s event. “Friendship. Connection to the public,” he says. “He hasn’t played here since August, and this is the perfect moment for that.”
Ozuna, who had headed out earlier for a revitalizing preperformance nap (he has a home in Puerto Rico as well as one in Miami), arrives at the venue with his wife, Taina Marie Meléndez, who is decked out in an oversized Gucci hoodie. She quietly settles into a couch while he attacks a sushi platter, and friends and acquaintances gather around him.