Words by Victor A. Rodriguez
You can’t have a conversation about the current wave of Latin trap and reggaeton artists without including Ozuna. The Puerto and Dominican artist continued his ascension through the music industry ranks. Not only spearheading the current reverse cross-over phenomena which has mainstream music fans, artists and industry all wanting in on Latin urban music but taking reggaeton to places it’s never been before.
Yet, it wasn’t always easy for the man born Juan Carlos Ozuna Rosado. A native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, as with many that reach this stage of success in life – the hunger and drive for it came as result of growing up in scarcity. His father was killed when Ozuna was only three years old, and his mother was not financially stable enough to raise him. As such, he was raised primarily by paternal grandmother. Where a work ethic was learned.
“Things aren’t gifted to you. Things don’t just come from an idea, from nothing. You have to work for them. You have to pursue them. You have to take time. You have to sacrifice.”
From an early age, Ozuna displayed a passion for the Latin urban genre. At just 12-years-old he started composing songs. He debuted as a singer in 2012 with the song “Imaginando”. In 2014, he signed a recording contract with Golden Family Records and began to publish his songs on YouTube. His breakthrough came in 2016 when he appeared on the single “La Ocasión”, a collaboration with DJ Luian, Mambo Kingz, De La Ghetto, Arangel and Anuel AA. The single reached number 22 on the Billboard Hot Latin Songs chart. The rest as they is history. By 2017 he was signed to Sony Music Latin and was off to the races.
2019 however saw him hit a whole other level. He released his latest album Niburu. Began a world tour of the same name in support of it and appeared in Que Leones, the sequel to his 2018 hit indie hit Que Leon. Then there were the collabs! Ozuna teamed up with fellow reggaeton/urban artist Rosalia for the hit “Yo x Ti, Tu x Mi”, as well as a track and video with Sean “Diddy” Combs for “Eres Top”. The artist even performed at some places you aren’t likely to see reggaeton – the MTV Video Music Awards and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Ohh, then there were the awards. He broke the record for most Billboard Latin Music Awards taking home 11, including “Artist of the Year.” Nabbed another nine at Premio Lo Nuestro. However, of note was a certain accolade no reggaeton artist has ever accomplished. Making the list of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential, along-side the likes of Michelle Obama, Nancy Pelosi and LeBron James. The editorial was authored by his friend and mentor Daddy Yankee who noted “He shows kids that anything is possible—that you can become a global star if you work hard enough. He is a great competitor, a good friend, and he never hesitates to give back to his community.”