For Nicky Jam, taking a 10-year break was important: a time to learn, value, and believe in himself. Today, he’s staged one of the most successful second acts in Latin music, going from being a local Puerto Rican reggaeton artist with limited reach to one who has redefined his music and persona to achieve international success that seemed impossible a decade ago.
Playing his first headlining U.S. tour, aptly titled the Fenix tour, Nicky Jam performed at a nearly sold-out AmericanAirlines Arena on March 5, kicking off the show with “Travesuras,” his first major international hit.
Then (and following an opening set from reggaeton duo Zion & Lennox) he covered an impressive selection of repertoire from past and present that served as a reminder of how prolific he is as a songwriter and collaborator. The set list included OMI‘s “Cheerleader” (Nicky Jam did the Spanish remix), “Si Tu No Estas,” “Voy a Beber,” “Sunset” (written with Farruko) and a remix of pal J Balvin‘s “Ay Vamos.” It was enough to keep the audience up on its feet and dancing the entire evening, although the song that it sang along to loudest was undoubtedly his new hit, “Hasta el amanecer” (‘Til Dawn).
At that point, Nicky Jam was surprised onstage by Sony Music Latin, who gave him a double platinum recognition for streaming sales of “El Perdon,” his massive hit alongside Enrique Iglesias.
“Ten years ago I wasn’t doing well and I decided to move to Colombia,” said an emotional Nicky Jam, accepting the plaque. “That move changed my morals, and today I am here. Thank you for believing in me.”
Then, Nicky Jam gave way to special guests Ken Y (to perform “Party Como lo Hacia Yo”), Piso 21 (for “Suele Suceder”) and Colombian vallenato star Silvestre Dangond. Together they performed “Materialista,” a track that blends reggaeton with vallenato.
Despite the popularity of reggaeton as a genre, solo acts seldom manage to sell out arenas in this country. But, as Saturday’s show highlighted, Nicky Jam’s particular mix of reggaeton beats and romantic lyrics clearly are going beyond the limits of the genre. Not surprisingly, the grand finale of the evening was “El Perdon,” the ultimate marriage of romance and dembow.
For Nicky Jam, it wasn’t just validation, but a new beginning.
The Fenix Tour Set List:
“Si Tu No Estas”
“Voy a Beber”
“Hasta el Amanecer”
“Yo No Soy tu Marido”
“Party Como lo Hacia Yo” (with Ken Y)
“Materialista” (with Silvestre Dangond)
“Ay Vamos” (remix)
“Suele Suceder” (with Piso 21)