If there’s one thing that Jay Wheeler is proud of achieving during the quarantine period, it’s becoming a first-time homeowner. That, and the release of his sophomore album Platonicos, out June 12 via Linked Music/EMPIRE.
“I’m a very responsible person,” he tells Billboard. “I just bought my house in Orlando and I’m buying stuff for it. If I’m not there, I’m at the studio recording music. I don’t like going out because I respect the coronavirus but if it were for me, I’d never leave home,” he admits.
Hailing from Guayamo, Puerto Rico, Jay Wheeler (real name: Jose Angel Lopez Martinez) is an emerging artist who in the span of five years has positioned himself as one of the new romantic voices in reggaeton. His fans even gave him the nickname “La Voz Favorita” because of his melodic tone and heartfelt lyrics.
“My love for music comes from when I was a kid,” he says. “My mom, my dad, and my grandmother sang in church and I would always watch musical movies. I played the piano in my church and I began creating all types of beats when I got my first computer.”
Though he loved music, Wheeler fesses that he was too shy to kick off a singing career due to bullying during his school-age years. He felt insecure and refused to flaunt his talents. But that all changed when he fell in love — and dealt with heartbreak.
“I wrote a breakup song for the first time and my best friend encouraged me to upload a video singing the song,” he recalls of his song “Ahora Estoy Mejor,” released in 2015. “At that moment I was just hurt. I did it because I needed to send the message across one way or another. The video went viral overnight, generating over 500 thousand views. That’s when I decided to dedicate myself to music, singing, and self-educating myself in the industry.”
In 2018, Wheeler dropped “Por Tu Culpa,” the song he says opened the doors for him and ultimately landed him on DJ Nelson’s radar.
“The first people who discovered me were Yezziel and Siruo from Dynamic Records. They were the first to believe in my talent and gave me an opportunity,” Wheeler says. “After that, I performed in Puerto Rico and got very emotional when I saw people singing my songs. It was so incredible that I began to cry. That video became viral and that’s how it got to DJ Nelson. He was working with other artists at that time but after meeting up, he told me his vision for me as an artist. He’s a legend in the industry and it’s an honor working with him.”
Together, both Wheeler and Nelson gave life to Wheeler’s debut studio album Platonico, including the successful collaboration with Farruko in “Otra Noche Mas (Remix)”. “This was my presentation letter. This is who I am and what I bring to the table.”
“This album is me sharing my art with my colleagues. It’s not for shout outs or numbers but because we all share the same passion,” he notes. “This album is a very important part of my career. It’s very organic and every track has a different flow. Not because it’s my album but I listen to it every day.”
Learn more about this week’s Latin Artist on the Rise below.
Name: Jose Angel Lopez Martinez a.k.a. Jay Wheeler. “Jay comes from Jose. When I started my career I asked my fans on Facebook to help me pick a name that can accompany ‘Jay’ and amongst the answers was ‘Wheeler.’ Another fan said I was her favorite voice and it just had a nice ring to it ‘Jay Wheeler, La Voz Favorita.’”
Recommended Song: “It’s difficult to pick just one because I love them all but if I had to, I’d pick two: ‘La Curiosidad’ with Myke Towers and ‘Fuiste Tu,’ the lead single off of my new album. This song was challenging for me, artistically and personally.”
Major Accomplishment: “To be able to take my music to different countries and have my team. I still have a lot of goals to achieve. I like to have a lot of goals to continue working hard for them.
What’s Next? “Because of the quarantine I’m not able to do much but a lot of big and important collaborations are coming. These are projects that people would never expect from me.”