It was a trademark, decadent South Beach moment: Noon, poolside at the new and trendy Mondrian Hotel, with leggy models in skimpy bathing suits skulking alongside Akon, the best-selling reggaetón duo Wisin & Yandel and the urban bachata group Aventura. They were here to shoot a video for the Aventura single “All Up 2 You.” The director was filmmaker Jessy Terrero, a favorite of artists like Mary J. Blige and Enrique Iglesias, and the mood was a cultural mash-up of English and Spanish, beer and mango mojitos, rap and reggaetón.
It would be easy to get used to this, and Wisin & Yandel are well on their way. Just two months earlier in New York, the pair invited 50 Cent to shoot the Terrero-directed video of the single “Mujeres En El Club,” from the duo’s chart-topping new album “La Revolución.”
The collaboration marks one of the few times 50 Cent has appeared as a guest on another artist’s album. It also underscores a rapidly growing mainstream interest in the Latin market and highlights how key Latin acts are changing the rules as they try to reach beyond their core fan base. Until recently, crossover acts had to sing in English to broaden their audience. Now a new wave of mainstream acts is coming to the Latin world. But instead of simply singing a song or two in Spanish, they’re recording and touring with marquee Latin acts. And Latin artists are borrowing a page from the mainstream handbook, promoting multiple tracks simultaneously to radio in an effort to broaden their audiences.
Aventura’s new album includes appearances by Ludacris and Wyclef Jean. Akon just released a single with former RBD member Dulce María. John Legend recently recorded a duet with Noel Schajris, formerly half of the pop duo Sin Bandera. And Nelly Furtado will release a Spanish-language album this fall.
Amid all this activity, few artists exemplify the art and business of cross-cultural collaboration better than Wisin & Yandel. On May 26 the reggaetón duo (whose real names are Juan Luis Morera Luna and Llandel Veguilla Malavé) released “La Revolución,” which debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Latin Albums chart and No. 7 on the Billboard 200. With 36,000 copies sold its first week, according to Nielsen SoundScan, “La Revolución” is the highest debut for a Latin act on the Billboard 200 since Maná bowed at No. 4 in September 2006 with “Revolución de Amor.” Aside from Maná, the duo is the only Latin act recording solely in Spanish to crack the top seven of the Billboard 200. The album was also released in a deluxe edition that includes a DVD and two bonus tracks.
Click here to read more about how 50 Cent, Akon and other mainstream artists are finding new life in the Latin market.