Move over Lil Jon, there's a new king in town -- Toby Love, the king of crunkchata.Move over Lil Jon, there's a new king in town -- Toby Love, the king of crunkchata.
Never heard of chunkchata before? That's because Love is looking to start a new Latin music revolution by combining traditional bachata and hip-hop. And it looks like it's already catching on.
Last week, Love's self-titled debut entered the Top Latin Albums chart at No. 35 and the Top Heatseekers chart at No. 46. Lead single, "Tengo Un Amor," which features Rakim & Ken-Y, is currently No. 3 on the Hot Latin Songs chart.
Love got his start as a backup singer and dancer for Latin tropical group Aventura and decided to embark on a solo career because "every soldier wants to be a general."
"I always had this idea to urbanize bachata, to make it more street, more hip-hop," Love tells Billboard.com. "I've been a soldier for six years -- I was with Aventura for six years -- and I'm grateful for everything they've done for me and I love 'em to death. But I just wanted to come up with my own thing, define myself as a solo artist, and bring out a new style for bachata."
That new style is a unique mix of traditional bachata, R&B, hip-hop and reggaeton.
"When people hear the CD, 50 percent is traditional bachata and 50 percent is hip-hop [and] reggaeton bachata, the whole fusion I'm trying to do," he says. "I definitely want to do [mainly] R&B in the future, but first I had to do this whole thing because I feel that I can bring something new to bachata and make it more popular."
For inspiration on how to step into the spotlight, Love looks up to R&B artist Frankie J. In fact, Frankie J was supposed to appear on Love's album, but there were scheduling conflicts.
"He's a big inspiration to me," says Love. "He's Latin doin' R&B -- something that I want to do in the future -- and he's definitely different. We can relate. We were both in groups and then we both decided to do our solo thing. We're supposed to do something for his [next] album and I think that we'll definitely collaborate on something crazy together."
Although Frankie J isn't on the album, Love did get the chance to work with several other artists, including reggaeton duo Rakim & Ken-Y, rapper Voltio and Aventura member Max Agende P.I.C.
"When I was in the studio I was always thinking, 'who can I get for this song?'," he says. "'Who can I get who's crazy, who's hot and whose lyrics are grimy?' I would just sit in the corner and think, with my Red Bull and my sunflower seeds 'cause that gets my mojo runnin'. And everything just fell into place."
Although the original version of the single "Tengo Un Amor" is a fairly straight-forward bachata song, the addition of Rakim & Ken-Y gives it some urban street cred. Another unofficial single, "Stripper Pole," has been getting some attention from hip-hop fans too.
"It's not being strongly promoted like ‘Tengo Un Amor,' so it's underground," says Love. "A lot DJs have it, and they're playing it. We actually had to stop at like 15 strip clubs on the [promo] tour, just because of that song. The way the women dance to a song like ‘Stripper Pole' is crazy. That's what I want, I want people to move to this stuff like it's hip-hop."