The 2018 smash “Te Boté” all began with a Category 5 hurricane.
As Maria, the 10th-most intense hurricane of the Atlantic, made landfall in Dominica, U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico in September 2017, Puerto Rican producer-songwriter Jose Martín Velázquez, who goes by the moniker Young Martino, left the island and sought refuge in Orlando, Florida, with fellow Latin rappers Casper Mágico and Nio García.
As the three anxiously followed news of Maria, they started kicking around ideas and laid the base of the 2018 knockout hit. “Te Boté” spent 14 weeks atop Billboard’s Hot Latin Songs chart starting May 26, 2018, and peaking at No. 36 on the Billboard Hot 100 (June 9, 2018).
The track, Martino’s first collaboration with Mágico, García and Darell, was originally released on Dec. 1, 2017, via Flow La Movie Inc. It was followed by a remix featuring Latin warhorses Nicky Jam, Ozuna and Bad Bunny on April 13, 2018, and a music video with a billion views.
The track earned Martino, 25, his first Billboard Latin Music Award nomination as producer of the year, alongside Andres Torres and Mauricio Rengifo, Chris Jeday and DJ Snake.
Martino has not always produced Latin urban music. He had a trio of solid percussionists, his uncles, who trained him on percussion as a youngster while he was diving into American hip-hop on his own. The integration of both worlds into his life injected a dose of worldly reverberations which molded his aesthetic musical knack.
In less than three years, Martino has produced more than 100 songs. His wide-ranging amalgam of Caribbean pulsations, jazz, rap and hip-hop, defies the conventional equation of the Latin urban sound.
As he gears off for a show in Phoenix with Casper, where Ozuna, Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube and others are also on the bill, Martino takes a break to talk to Billboard about “Te Boté” and other interests.
Let’s start with the most obvious question: How did “Te Boté” come to be?
Well, Casper, Nio and I left for Orlando because of hurricane Maria. As us, producers, say, we were kiqueando (making noise, kickin’ it), sitting on the floor of a friend’s house with my laptop and talking. Dejected by the news, Casper asked me to create some beats, a rhythm, and just like that, with no piano or instrument, a beat came out of my brain. I programmed it, a melody followed, then the base of the track, and we started humming with Nir what would become the intro. But that intro didn’t match with what Casper was working on, so I listened to both their ideas and said “wait, wait, let’s unite your intro Nir, and your chorus Casper, because I like them both.” So, gradually, between the three of us, the intro and the chorus where done, and the base of the song was born; it was so spontaneous, just us, sitting on the floor.
Was the initial idea to have Nicky Jam, Bad Bunny and Ozuna all together in the same song?
Not really. Casper and Nio uploaded a preview of the chorus of the song on Instagram and it went viral. As soon as this happened, Ozuna reached out to Casper and our team reached out to Nicky and Bad Bunny and everything came together. We knew we had a good song, but we never expected to have the hit we have today after the three of them jumped to cover the song.
Tell me about your participation on Calle 13’s show at Palacio de Los Deportes in Mexico City where Puerto Rican MC Alvaro Diaz, who opened the show, invited you as guest DJ.
Wow, this has been one of the biggest experiences I’ve had. There were about 15,000 people in attendance. This was the first time I played in front of so many people. It was the first experience of that magnitude, and surely has been one of the best experiences of my career.
I’m guessing you stayed to watch Calle 13 perform?
Oh yes! When Rene got onstage I got off it and blended in with the audience. I wanted to see them perform in front of me, wanted to appreciate the show as it was and jump with the masses, feeling the same vibe as everyone else.
Let’s talk music. You play the piano and are an avid listener of jazz, I’m told.
Yes, I play the piano and listen to a lot of jazz and soul, actually. I enjoy very much listening to jazz and extracting ideas from other cultures, to blend worldly music with our Caribbean, Latin sound. I believe by doing so, my own sound came to be, my own stamp. You can listen to a variety of songs and if you have a keen ear for music, can easily say “ah, this is Martino’s.”
When did you decide to dive into production and did your influences have any weight on it?
Music was rooted in me at an early age; there has always been music in my family. I have three uncles -one of them had a merengue band here in Puerto Rico named Mambo- who taught me how to play percussion, but I had a strong inclination for American music: hip-hop, especially. I grew up listening and learning music from both worlds, so I learned how to integrate both. It was around the time when I was 15 that I actually started to make my own music, my own sound. In regard to influences: I follow Scott Storch a lot, he is one of my biggest influences, as is Metro Booming.
Tell me about your Billboard Latin Music Award nomination as Producer of The Year.
I’ll be honest: I got teary-eyed when I got the news, I couldn’t believe it. It’s been a long journey to get where I am. To be nominated for me is already a victory. I sent the nomination to my mom and said: “wow, I did it!” The sacrifice and effort were worth it. Here we are now, also shooting for a Grammy (he laughs).
Wow, so many… but a fulfilled goal would be to work with J Balvin, to produce with Scott Storch, Metro Booming, to produce for Rihanna, for women; to compose for them.
What are you currently working on?
Working on singles for myself, one of them featuring Darell and Casper. I don’t sing but the song is mine. I also have tons of work already done for Young C’s album, a couple of albums for Darell, the remix of “No Te Veo” with Casper, working with Brray, and have been working with Dominican artist DaniLeigh who is signed to DefJam. Also working on a Spanish remix of her song “Lil Bebe” featuring Nio Garcia and Rauw Alejandro that should be released soon.