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De la Ghetto
De la Ghetto
Courtesy of Warner Music Latina

De la Ghetto on the Growth of Spanish-Language Music: "It's a Cultural Movement"

De la Ghetto is a master of Latin urban and reggaeton music. His new album, Mi Movimiento, set for release this Friday, September 28, features a unique mix of genres and collaborations. Born Rafael Castillo to a Puerto Rican family in New York, he is a singer and rapper who grew from humble roots and understands what it is to work hard.

"It's a multicultural album," he says. Listening to Guns N' Roses, watching MTV, and growing up during the '90s grunge movement with bands such as Nirvana all played parts in his evolution as a musician. Eventually, after embracing other genres such as reggae, dancehall, salsa, R&B, and hip-hop, De la Ghetto was ready to write Mi Movimiento.

The 16-track album includes hit singles such as "La Formula," featuring Daddy Yankee and Ozuna, and "Caliente," featuring J Balvin. Other featured artists are Maluma, Wisin, Brytiago, Plan B, and Zion & Lennox. "When I was finishing the album, I had just signed up with Warner Music and was originally just going to release it as a mixtape or EP," he says. "I signed to Warner, and it upped my game a little bit more." Through working with the label, De la Ghetto believes his musicianship matured, which led to the collaborations.

The title of the album relates to his development in the past 12 years, when Spanish-language music was more concerned with hip-hop, trap, and R&B. "It's a cultural movement, a musical movement, and a spiritual movement," De la Ghetto declares. Now he believes Latin music has its own movement with a large audience that can appreciate the album.

With a tattoo of a cross on his neck, De la Ghetto chose for the album cover a large golden cross on a gray sky, reflecting his spirituality and Catholic upbringing. "I wanted to do a more classical cover," he says.

His recent single featuring J Balvin, "Caliente," was filmed in South Florida, where De la Ghetto recently performed at the grand opening of North Miami Beach's Club Mala, and he often visits the 305 to do business with the Miami-based label Warner Music Latina. "It's beautiful," he says. "When I go to Miami, it's like going to Puerto Rico a little bit."

Besides working on the album for the past three years, De la Ghetto sang on the track "Never Let You Go" by American EDM artist Dillon Francis. The extremely successful single "1, 2, 3" by Mexican pop star Sofía Reyes featured him and Jason Derulo. "When I heard the record, I thought, This girl has an amazing voice and amazing swag," De la Ghetto says. Not knowing if the track would hit, he still jumped on the opportunity to rap on "1, 2, 3", which has amassed more than 300 million views on YouTube.

The album was originally slated to drop in September 2017, but the havoc Hurricane Maria wreaked upon Puerto Rico hampered the release. "It wasn't a good time," he recalls of the aftermath. Along with top Puerto Rican artists Zion & Lennox, Ivy Queen, PJ Sin Suela, and Lucecita Benitez, he recently released "A Forgotten Spot (Olvidado)," a song written to commemorate the first anniversary of Hurricane Maria.

A U.S. tour is in the works to support the album. "I feel anxious, nervous, and happy," De la Ghetto says. He's confident this album will be his best yet. 

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