Nicky Jam and Daddy Yankee are considered pioneers of the reggaeton movement, paving the way for the fresh wave of artists such as Lunay, Anuel AA and others. During the late ‘90s and early ‘00s, both Yankee and Jam formed the duo “Los Cangris,” releasing timeless hits including “En La Cama,” “Guayando,” “Sentirte” and “Entre Sabanas Blancas.” After parting ways to embark on solo careers, the two Puerto Rican artists reunited for the first time in 20 years to drop new music together.
Los Cangris made their highly awaited comeback on Jan. 8 with the release of “Muevelo,” a high-energy reggaeton song that revives the 1994 reggae/hip-hop classic “Here Comes the Hotstepper” by Ini Kamoze and is part of the Bad Boys for Life movie soundtrack.
Billboard caught up with Juan “Play” Salinas of Texas-based DJ and producers Play-N-Skillz to talk about the making of “Muevelo,” which has marked an important moment in Latin urban history.
Everyone freaked out when Daddy Yankee and Nicky Jam announced a Los Cangris comeback. You guys produced “Muevelo,” but whose idea was it to get both of the big dogs on this track?
I met Nicky for the first time in September of last year in Miami. We have mutual friends and I always had him in mind for “Muevelo,” we already had the demo. He called me one night at around midnight to tell me he wanted to take the song to the next level and said he heard Yankee all over the track. He explained to me a bit of their past and their misunderstandings and how they have so much respect for each other. I have big respect for them too, seeing how they were able to put things to the side and work together again. They’re both at an iconic time in their career so it’s really cool to make it all come together through this song. I traveled to Puerto Rico to record music with Daddy Yankee and that’s when he did his part. I went back to Miami, played it for Nicky and he went crazy over it. Now we’re here.
This is their first collaborative work in two decades! How long did the creative process take?
About two to three months, it was actually a little shorter than I thought it would be. Nicky was really excited about the song and the Bad Boys movie coming out that it just made all the sense in the world for it to come out when it came out. We kinda made it a priority for everyone to be on track. Nicky and Daddy were amazing. It doesn’t take them long to do what they have to do.
Have you proposed a joint album? That would be pretty epic too.
Absolutely, I know they’ve been talking about it. We actually spoke about it, maybe doing like an EP or surprise album produced by Play-N-Skillz and whoever else. I would love to be a part of that. I know there are songs in the works and they spoke about it for sure. So, now it’s just a matter of finding everyone’s time in the studio and getting to work.
In both of the hits produced by Play-N-Skillz, “Con Calma” and “Muevelo,” you revive old-school jams from the ‘90s. Although this isn’t something new, we’re seeing more and more of it in Latin music. Why do you think this trend is so appealing nowadays?
I think in Latin urban music, we started something a little different. In our case, we love digging the [vinyl] crates. Everybody saw the success of “Con Calma” and how the melodies of a familiar song appealed to people around the world.
Speaking of Yankee, what’s the best thing about producing music for him and what do you think he likes about working with you?
First of all, he’s a very challenging artist when it comes to the actual perfection of the song. We go through a very long process to make the song perfect. “Con Calma” took two years to make finding the perfect arrangement, perfect mix, perfect sound. I love the fact that he challenges us. He’s also a producer, a lot of people may not know that. He’s very musically inclined. His ear is one of the best, if not the best, in the entire music biz. And I think what he finds in us is that we come prepared. We don’t just arrive with beats. We have ideas for lyrics and melodies. The fact that we bring challenging songs to him and they still fit in his folder is why he loves working with us as well.
On that note, you guys are whipping up another collaboration with DY and Zion & Lennox called “La Primera Vez.” What can you share with us in advance?
This is a Play-N-Skillz song featuring Daddy Yankee and Zion & Lennox. It’s slated to come out for the first week of March. The video was shot in Miami directed by Daniel Duran. It’s a massive, massive song. I’ll tell you this, we sample a very, very popular rock song that got flipped on a Latin beat and it came out completely different. I’m very excited about merging and fusing those sounds together. It’s still Latin and still feels new for 2020. As soon as I played it for them, they loved it.
Rock-meets-reggaeton? Sounds interesting. Before we wrap up, what’s the biggest thing you guys would like to achieve in 2020?
We want to succeed as DJ-producers and make our songs become major, major hits. I think we’ve given major hits to everyone else and I think that this is the year we’re going to focus a little more on Play-N-Skillz and let the world know that we’re also at the forefront. We don’t only send beats to artists, we’re creators, we’re visionaries, so that’s our focus for 2020. I want to bring the world together with our music, being Latino and being able to work with African-American artists, European artists, Korean artists and more.