Natti Natasha's Balancing Act

Natti Natasha
Miguel Ducos/Courtesy of Pina Records*

Natti Natasha

Natti Natasha is no stranger to making history, from becoming the first female reggaetonera since Ivy Queen in 2005 to top Billboard’s Hot Latin Songs chart with Don Omar’s “Dutty Love,” to placing a record 12 top 10 hits on the Latin Rhythm Airplay chart, tied only with Karol G. Earlier this year, the artist born Natalia Alexandra Gutiérrez Batista experienced another first: motherhood.

The star publicly documented every step of her pregnancy on social media, culminating in a performance of “Ram Pam Pam” alongside Becky G on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon with her very pregnant, sequin-adorned bare belly glittering with every dance move. “I was thrilled to be pregnant and changing who I was because it wasn’t part of the plan,” says Natasha, who’s managed by reggaetón veteran and her fiancée, Raphy Pina. “Personally, I felt more powerful. I felt even more daring. I felt free. I felt very comfortable in my own skin. I wasn’t ashamed.”

Natasha took that mentality and put it into her new album, NattiVidad, out Sept. 24 on Pina Records/Sony Music Latin. Though the artwork features a baby carriage, Natasha insists “it’s a real perreo [a style of dance music associated with reggaetón] album,” and with features ranging from Maluma to rising females like Farina and Cazzu to hardcore reggaetoneros like Nio García and Brray, the proof is in the music.

You joined artists like Beyoncé and Cardi B who have famously performed pregnant, but for your Fallon performance your belly was bare. What was that like?

Literally, I was days before my due date. Everybody was asking, “Do you feel comfortable?” And I was, “Girl, I’m sure.” I danced with all the energy in the world. I mean, I was boxing until my 33rd week. I’ve never enjoyed my life as much as when I was pregnant. I had absolutely no shame about my body or what people would say. I do very explicit reggaetón, and now I was having a baby; whether I was going to be accepted was a big question mark for us. And to see those results? I would have never thought in a million years that I would be on Jimmy Fallon pregnant.

How have things changed for women in reggaetón in the past couple of years?

I definitely see more women now, and I feel that all I’ve fought for for so many years has helped. Obviously, some things still require change. For example, I still get comments from people — many of them women — saying I now need to devote myself to my family. The fact that you “support” women and yet you don’t support that a woman can be happy and raise a family, that was shocking. There are myths that have to be torn down, and it takes a full battalion to help a woman rise on the charts.

Did you consider recording a song for your baby girl, Vida, on this album?

I have a song Romeo Santos wrote called “Princesa” [Princess]. I recorded it when I was pregnant, and I sang it in a Facebook Live. Although I’m a reggaetón act, I do like to sing other material, and I wanted to record this song specifically for Vida, so she can see that her mom is a fighter and that women can do this. I’m going to include it in a future album that’s in the works. Because this is such a perreo album, I felt it would feel out of place.

You’re engaged to your manager, Raphy Pina, who also works with Daddy Yankee. How do you set boundaries?

I’ve always heard you shouldn’t work with your other half, but in my case, Raphy has been a blessing and has helped me continue in music. He fought for me at a time when women were not [part of the reggaetón scene]. He believed when no one believed. I already had my persona and my concept; Natti Natasha was me. He doesn’t step on my toes. When we’re working, I’m Natti Natasha and he’s Raphy Pina. When we’re home, I’m Natalia Gutiérrez and he’s Rafael Pina. It’s a winning formula.

This story originally appeared in the Sept. 18, 2021, issue of Billboard.