“He has a very refreshing sound and lyrics that were necessary from the new generation and also is an example to continue inspiring other artists,” J Balvin tells Billboard about rising star Jhay Cortez — who is a finalist at the 2020 Billboard Latin Music Awards for artist of the year, new. He is also confirmed to attend LatinFest+ as a panelist
With four total entries on Billboard’s Hot Latin Songs chart, Cortez scored his first top 10 with the “No Me Conoces” remix with J Balvin and Bad Bunny, which also peaked at No. 71 on the Billboard Hot 100. His 2019 album Famouz — which has been relaunched with new songs and collabs with Karol G, Wisin & Yandel and Ozuna, among others — is currently at No. 5 on the Latin Rhythm Albums chart.
But how did these collabs happen and what else is Jhay Cortez planning for 2020? Read below his most recent interview with Billboard and check what has been the most epic birthday present, so far.
You have relauched a new version of your album Famouz. Why?
I wanted people to have all the songs in a single album and give them something new at the same time because each new song is an achievement. Having a remix with Ozuna, with Wisin & Yandel, who are artists that I listen to, that I admire, is rewarding. It also helped me as an artist because it gives me more security when making a new album.
The “Imaginaste” remix, with Wisin & Yandel, how did that collaboration happen?
I had previously worked with Yandel on the Dangerous album, so we have a very good relationship and, obviously, I’m a fan of Wisin & Yandel from a young age. When I wrote “Imaginaste,” I did it thinking of Wisin and Yandel, so for the remix, I gave myself the task of seeing if I could join Wisin & Yandel, because it’s something super difficult, but thank God as I know Yandel, I have a good relationship with him, my team has a good relationship with Wisin, and it was a given.
One of the songs I like the most on the album is “Desame Suerte” with Karol G, because I feel like it’s something different. Can you tell us the story behind the collab?
Yes, that’s why I did it — because its fresh, different. It’s something different for Karol too, because we’re used to singing in more uptempo beats, with drums, more aggressive, and that song she loved a lot, we decided to do it.
A note from Karol G: “’Deseame Suerte; is very special. Being able to show the world a side of Jhay at that most sensitive moment was what he needed for him to continue in his growth as an artist.”
Let’s talk a little more about your career. I know that in addition to being a singer, you have been producing and composing for other artists. When did you start your career as a producer and songwriter?
Well, I started my career as a producer and songwriter when I was 16. I didn’t have the resources or connections to keep my career going as I thought, so I proceeded to make music to other artists as my time came. I started with Tito “El Bambino,” working on the Invincible album, and thank God it won a Latin Grammy. Then with Zion & Lennox, among others.
Do you remember the first song you heard on the radio that you worked on?
Yes, it was called “Como Cura,” when I was 17.
What would you rather do: sing, tour or be in a studio?
Being in the studio. That’s my first love, making music, creating music. It’s not like a job. It amuses me, it’s a place where a lot of things happen, something inexplicable. In the studio, there’s magic. I like to travel, do shows, but it’s something that takes more effort. Creating is something that comes out of your heart.
Do you remember what you did when you first got a big check for writing songs?
I bought a car and went out to party. [Laughs]
Of all your songs, what’s your favorite and why?
“Easy,” because it has a lot of the essence with which I grew up. It’s always going to remind me of when I fell in love with reggaeton.
How did the collaboration with J Balvin and Bad Bunny for “No Me Conoce” come along?
I already had in my mind to do it with Balvin because he liked the song a lot. I sent it to him, and about three days later, he called me; it was my birthday, on April 9, and he tells me, “Look, I have a bro that wants to join the remix,” and it was Bad Bunny.
How did you react?
It really was a very exciting thing. From there, my career took another path, more international, thanks to that song.
And it gave way for you to enter the charts. How do you feel when you see your songs on the Billboard charts?
It’s very exciting. It’s like being in school and getting a medal for getting good grades. It’s a very rewarding thing for that work — you do it for love, but you also say, “I want to see this on Billboard,” and when it happens, it’s a nice feeling.
What advice can you give to young people who want to be like you, who want to compose, sing and work with great artists?
I would tell them to commit to themselves to make their talent, their gift, reach the best possible version. Work for it, so that when opportunities appear, and the doors open, they will be fully prepared for those opportunities and can make the best of you, and always have faith in God, always put things in God’s hands. There’s always going to be highs and lows but always keep going.