Reggaeton producer and LIV nightclub resident DJ Dimelo Flow took a shot in the dark on his latest single, "Girl Like You" — and it paid off.
After frequent collaborator and fellow Panamanian Sech sent him the base of the Spanish song, Flow (real name Jorge Valdés) came up with the idea to feature rapper Tyga on the track. Flow felt the "Taste" rapper had Latin flavor after collaborating on bilingual tracks such as "Loco Contigo" and "Haute" with J Balvin and wanted him to add his special touch to "Girl Like You."
The only problem? Flow — the producer behind reggaeton hits such as "Pa Mi, "Elegi," and "El Favor" — had never spoken to Tyga and didn’t have his phone number. And so, like a modern-day stan, he reached out via Instagram.
“I hit him on the DM, and he responded. And now we have a couple of songs together,” Flow tells New Times from his home in Miami. “When you catch a vibe with people, that’s what happens. He just fits on the records and has passion for it.”
The Flow-produced, bilingual track with Tyga — which also features Sech and J.I the Prince of N.Y — was released last month. The foursome came together for the first time to film the Jumanji-like music video in Miami.
“We come from the same culture, if you really think about it,” Flow says. “There’s not much different about what we do. It’s just different languages.”
The 32-year-old studio wiz has long been a hip-hop fan and began his career as a rap DJ. He moved from Panama to Ocala, Florida, when he was 14. At 16, after a car accident left him with a broken femur, he quickly started focusing on music — particularly hip-hop — when he was forced to give up basketball. Luckily, music became more than just a hobby for Flow, allowing him to travel all over the state DJ'ing. In the beginning, Flow switch between rap and Latin music gigs, only to find himself focusing more and more on the urbano sounds as the genre took off.
“People started requesting [Latin music] more at hip-hop clubs. It was around when the N.O.R.E., Nina Sky, Daddy Yankee song came out," says Flow, referring to the 2006 banger "Oye Mi Canto." "It gave me more to play at clubs. And then I started getting more involved with Latin artists. My big break was when I met Justin [Quiles] in Tampa. He loved the way I DJ'ed, so we started working together. I was recording with local artists and DJ'ing clubs at that point.”
Flow moved to Miami and lived with Quiles, but his big break didn't come right away. Quality DJ gigs were hard to come by in the city. Flow says he didn't so much get rejected but had to earn his place. The way he sees it, DJs in Miami tend to hold on to their spots for a while, so you need to make sure you're better than them to stand a chance.
Quiles eventually rose up the reggaeton ranks, taking Flow with him and raising his profile. Collaborations with reggaeton heavyweight Farruko would follow. As for which of his songs he first heard on the radio, that honor would go to Dalex's "Pa Mi."
"They were playing it everywhere we went in Puerto Rico," Flow says. "We couldn’t believe it. That just made me hungrier to make the next one bigger than the last one. I tell everybody [success] might not be there next day."
With LIV nightclub at the Fontainebleau closed owing to the pandemic, Flow has been focused on recording. He says he has songs with Dalex and Daddy Yankee coming out and is working on Sech's upcoming album, as well as his own.
What other rap artists would Flow like to work with — or to put it another way, whose DMs might he slide into next?
"I want to work with Drake, Post Malone, Chris Brown," Flow says. "That’s the vibe I'm going for. We’ll see."
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Luis Gomez left his life in Chicago to backpack around the world and has since dedicated himself to freelance writing, with Miami now his home base. You can read about his global adventures on his travel blog, Extra Underwear.