Puerto Rican-Dominican singer, songwriter and actor Nicky Jam is one of reggaetón’s most recognisable figures. Between releasing his 2019 full-length album Intimo, and kicking off 2020 with a feature role alongside Will Smith and Martin Lawrence in box-office smash Bad Boys for Life, he somehow found the time to sit down with Rolling Stone and reflect on “The First Time.”
Watch: Nicky Jam chats with Rolling Stone
That is, the first time the Latin Grammy-winning artist landed a movie role, the first time a song of his got a billion views, and the first time he met reggaetón legend Daddy Yankee. During the course of the interview, he also gives plenty of insight into the thriving music scene of Puerto Rico, as well as his rocky road to international pop stardom.
It’s hard to believe there wasn’t a time with Nicky Jam was one of the biggest artists in Puerto Rico, but the 38-year-old hitmaker recalls the time he first felt like he truly made it. “When Enrique Iglesias called me because he wanted to do a song with me,” he beams. “That’s when I knew I was going mainstream already, because I was doing just that underground reggaetón and I had that crowd.”
While Iglesias was the first surreal collaboration for Jam, it was far from his last. Hooking up with Daddy Yankee was also a big moment for Nicky’s career, but that was years after the two first met. “First time I ever met Daddy Yankee I was 13 or 14 years old; I was at a club, I was a big fan of Daddy Yankee – he was a killer of the mixtapes,” he recounts. “I remember I went to him and I said, ‘I’mma sing with you one day.’ And he looked at me and said, ‘I know who are you, you’re that little kid that sings with that little Mickey Mouse voice…I like that style, I like what you do.’”