Presented by Patron Tequila and moderated by Billboard‘s Jessica Roiz — and in front of an audience that quickly filled every seat — Towers and Alejandro first cheered with a Patron drink before doing a deep dive of their careers and reflected on their humble beginnings when they’d upload songs to SoundCloud for visibility.
The chart-topping artists also talked about finding the right team for the journey and the importance of being experimental.
Below are the best quotes from the “Mano a Mano” panel:
On their early days:
Rauw Alejandro: “I started in 2015 and I really didn’t know where to start but I always had that intuition that’s guided me telling me, ‘ok, now you have to turn here or now you have to do this.’ I started following the new movement that was bubbling in Puerto Rico and I opened my own doors.”
Myke Towers: “I started in 2013 and the Internet was my best tool. A lot of people back then didn’t know much about SoundCloud but I took advantage of it. And I knew that what was missing in that movement was rappers so I thought, I’ll start rapping and go from there.”
Building a team:
Rauw Alejandro: “I was always on the hunt for people who could join my project. I would start looking for what I was missing on my team. If I needed a photographer or an engineer, I’d ask a friend and so by the team I started to meet with music executives, I already had my little team built and the companies liked that because they thought, he’s already doing the job and knows what he wants.”
Myke Towers: “It really just depends on what you want. I remember I used to have shows and needed a DJ so I’d ask a friend to DJ for me and another one to record my performances. As artists, we have to focus on making music so we have to make sure that whoever is on our team, does their part and is as invested as you are.”
On being experimental:
Rauw Alejandro: “My latest album, Vice Versa, follows Afrodisiaco which was really an ode to old-school reggaeton. So, I knew Vice Versa had to be a departure from that one because with every project, I am to be different. Us artists aren’t monogamous but we also try to maintain our essence and roots because that’s been key to our success.”
Sports and music:
Myke Towers: “Discipline is what connects both worlds. You always dream about being on top and sometimes I would become frustrated when I didn’t see results but that’s why you have to be disciplined and keep training to be the best at your craft.”
On staying grounded:
Rauw Alejandro: “My mom would always tell me, ‘there will always be someone better than you but there will also always be someone worst than you. So just always enjoy the moment and stay humble.’
The star-studded 2021 Latin Music Week lineup – headlined by Daddy Yankee, Karol G and Nicky Jam – also includes participation by Anitta, Elena Rose, Natti Natasha, Jhay Cortez, Kany Garcia and Tainy.
Under the slogan “The Beat of Latin Music,” making its mark as the longest running and biggest Latin music industry gathering in the world, this year’s event will continue through the end of the week as Billboard launches its En Vivo concert series in partnership with Samsung, Amazon Music and Bacardi.
The 2021 Latin Music Week takes place form Sept. 20 to 25 at the Faena Forum in Miami, and coincides with the 2021 Billboard Latin Music Awards broadcasting live via Telemundo on Sept. 23. See the list of our finalists here.