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20 Questions With Ozuna: Singer Talks Hit-Filled 'ENOC,' Sia Singing in Spanish and Dinner With Michael Jackson

20 Questions with "El Negrito Ojos Claros"

Ozuna loves acronyms. But ENOC is special. El Negrito Ojos Claros (The Black Kid, Light Eyes) has long been his nickname. It’s also the name of his new album, a 20-track tour de force that veers from the righteous anger and braggadocio of the opening “Enemigos Ocultos” – which features a staggering  six guest artists and runs over seven minutes — to the beautiful, island-y “Del Mar,” which features Doja Cat and Sia in their first-ever Spanish language collab, with Sia singing in Spanish.

“This album is me,” Ozuna tells Billboard in a candid interview. “Not only the music, the creator, but me. I released Odisea in 2016 and that’s been the best album in my career. Everybody said, 'dude, you need to go back.' That’s why this album is El Negrito Ojos Claros. That’s the title, but it’s the mix and the start of the new Ozuna.”

The “new” Ozuna is feisty and hard-hitting in the opening  “Enemigos Ocultos, which features Wisin, Cosculluela, Myke Towers, Juanka and Arcangel in what Ozuna calls a manifesto for the culture. It’s lyrical in tracks like “Del Mar” and the sexy, gentle “Una Locura,” where J Balvin and Chencho Corleone sing. It’s eminently danceable in “Esto no se acaba” with Nicky Jam and achingly heartfelt in “Gracias,” Ozuna’s thank you to God and life, where he sings beautifully over guitar. And then, there’s “Despeinada,” the last-minute addition with Camilo that Ozuna calls his “favorite song on the album. I listen to it 200 times a day.”

Ozuna Talks New Album ‘ENOC,' Working With Doja Cat and Sia | Billboard

All told, it’s 20 straight hits from an album that’s perhaps even better than Odisea, which is saying a lot. As a companion guide, Ozuna answered 20 questions for Billboard.

1. Describe this album in five words:

Creative. Duro; the album and me. Long work. Love. And different. The album and me represent different moments. Yesterday I was in Puerto Rico. Today I’m with you. Tomorrow, I’m in Dominican Republic. I recorded in my boat, but also in Wisin’s recording studio, La Base. The album is me.

2. Your dream collab:

I want to do something with Drake. I have the song. I’m waiting for the perfect moment. I talk to him every day on Instagram but about different things: Rolex, cars, watches. He and I like to collect the same things.

3. What was it like working with Doja Cat and Sia?

The song needed good vibes and love. And Sia and Doja Cat give it that. They gave me the vocals in 24 hours. That’s a record. Everybody needs two, three weeks to do a vocal with me. They sent me the vocals and said, “Whatever you want to do, do. The song is a hit.” And no one has recorded a Spanish song with Sia.

4. What’s the meaning of “Enemigos Ocultos (Hidden Enemies)?”

I don’t know if I have enemies right now. I did it for the culture. In the past years, different projects had the culture in the intro. But no one had brought everybody together, and put them together in a video. And during Covid! And everybody said yes. Everybody said, "I’m in." The culture needs this song.

5. If you could go out for dinner, with anyone dead or alive. Who would it be and why?

Michael Jackson. That’s it. I know it’s a dream. In the same table with Michael Jackson and say, "Yo, how did you do Thriller?" I have a lot of questions for Michael Jackson.

6. What’s the first piece of music that you bought for yourself?

Ricky Martin. It was a live he did with Tommy Torres -- “Tu recuerdo” [he sings]. I’m not very tech savvy. It was the first song I downloaded into my iPhone and actually paid for. Back then, all CDs in Puerto Rico were pirated. You didn’t really buy songs.

7. What was the first concert you saw?

Los Benjamins in Puerto Rico. Muy duro.

8. What did your parents do for a living when you were a kid?

My dad died when I was three. He was a dancer for Vico C. He was also a double AA baseball prospect. It’s in the blood. But, growing up, it was my mom and my grandma. My mom worked in maintenance, cleaning offices. My grandmother had a little shop in Rio Piedras where she sold stuff for women.

9. What made you realize you could be an artist full-time?

Really, I never realized it. It was something that happened very quickly. I had a hobby that was music. I worked with my grandmother in Rio Piedra, but every time I finished, I’d go record, create. I wrote a lot of music. And when “Si Tu Marido No Te Quiere” hit and I started to tour, that’s when I said, "I have to quit work and just do music." The first 10, 15 dates I played, I’d be performing until 2 a.m. and then I would be opening up the kiosk with my grandmother at 7 a.m. That’s when I realized I could make a living from music.

 10. How did your hometown/city shape who you are?

I still go back. I drive through there and say hello all the time to feel I’m still the same and I’m still close to my people. I can’t really get off the car, but I like going back.

11. If you could see any artist in concert, dead or alive, who would it be?

Living artist, Usher. He came once to Puerto Rico and I wasn’t able to go. And Adele.

12. What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen happen in the crowd of one of your sets?

They’ve gone through security barriers and six security guards and managed to get on stage and sing with me. By the time they’re up there, I can’t make security take them down. You can’t do that to a fan.

13. What’s your karaoke go-to?

Romeo Santos’ “Dile al amor.”

14. What movie, or song, always makes you cry?

Oof. Believe it or not, Home Alone makes me cry when they leave him behind and when his mom forgives him. And Man On Fire.

15. What’s your favorite TV series right now?

The Rain.

16.  What’s one thing that even your most devoted fans don’t know about you?

I’m a mega-yacth captain. I can captain 90-110-foot boats. And I love sports. I love to play volleyball, basketball, baseball, football. I’m a sports freak. I think a lot of people don’t know that.

17. If you were not a musician, what would you be?

An athlete.

18. What’s one piece of advice you would give to your younger self?

I’d tell him not to rush. Take it slowly. Everything will come when it has to. Don’t make decisions that may come back to haunt you. And find God and stay strong in prayer. I needed that 10 years ago. But now, my communication with God is solid.

19. Clothing, jewelry or cars?

Jewelry. All I need is my chains and my watches to go out.

20. Good luck charm:

I have a cross I bought in Israel that’s one of the earliest existing crosses, made out of stone. I keep it with me all the time.