S5 E52 | Anuel AA
On the latest episode of “Drink Champs,” N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN sat down with Anuel AA to discuss his career, Reggaeton and Latin trap music, and his new YouTube docuseries “30 Days: With Anuel.”
Born Emmanuel Gazmey Santiago in Carolina, Puerto Rico, Anuel was inspired to launch a career in the music industry at a young age. His father worked with high-profile salsa artists and served as the vice president of Sony Music Entertainment’s Puerto Rican division. As a teenager, he started rapping and posting music online. From there, he got the attention of Rick Ross, who signed him to the Latin division of Maybach Music Group. Shortly thereafter, Anuel dropped his debut mixtape, Real Hasta la Muerte, and was credited for being a major power player in the Reggaeton and Latin Trap movement.
But despite his success, trouble found its way to the star. In 2016, he was sentenced to 30 months in prison for illegal firearm possession. He was released in November 2018 and dropped his debut album also called Real Hasta la Muerte, the same day. The project was certified platinum later that year and topped the U.S. Latin albums chart upon its release. Since the release of his debut, he has gone on to release numerous other successful projects and has achieved global success.
Now, with his past troubles behind him, he is embarking on the next chapter of his life. In November 2021, he released his third studio album, Las Leyendas Nunca Mueren, which received favorable reviews from critics following its release. Additionally, his YouTube docuseries “30 Days” premiered on Dec. 29 and explores the rapper’s rise to fame and details the story behind his incarceration.
To help give fans a recap, REVOLT compiled a list of nine facts we learned from the Anuel AA interview. Check them out below.
1. On Fans Supporting Him While He Was in Prison
During the time that he was incarcerated, Anuel’s fans started a movement on social media called #Freeanuel to rally behind him as he faced the ordeal. On “Drink Champs,” N.O.R.E. asked the Puerto Rican emcee about his thoughts on the movement. Anuel explained that when he was behind bars, he didn’t realize how big the movement was. “I wasn’t there and [I was] in prison, so I didn’t see it,” he said. “[In prison], you ain’t surrounded by a lot of positive shit, so [I] didn’t think it was like that.”
2. On His Inspirations
Anuel explained during his interview that early on in his career, he primarily focused on creating commercial Reggaeton records. However, he added that he was later inspired by many mainstream hip hop artists to experiment with trap. “The most music I would listen to was English music,” he said. “[Lil] Wayne, Drake, Ross, they were number one in the world. I was like if that shit works in English, it has to work in Spanish.”
3. On Working with Meek Mill Again
Anuel teamed up with Meek Mill and Fabolous for the song “Uptown Vibes,” which appeared on Meek’s 2018 album, Championships. In 2019, the track was certified gold by the RIAA. When asked by N.O.R.E. the reason why he hasn’t collaborated with Meek to make another track, Anuel explained that the two have talked about it, but it’s not something that’s a main priority for him. “Me and him, we [talk] when we run into each other,” he said. “I was with Meek the other day. We were talking about [working with each other].”
4. N.O.R.E. on Reggaeton
N.O.R.E. crossed over into Reggaeton later in his career when he released the 2004 song “Oye Mi Canto” with Nina Sky. The single peaked at No. 12 on Billboard’s Hot 100 charts and was one of the earliest fusions of Reggaeton and hip hop. On “Drink Champs,” he discussed his decision to experiment in the genre and admitted that he admires how much it has grown. “I really saw this music as what it [is] right now,” he said. “I might have done too much. But, If I had a chance to do it all over, I would do it all over again. And I love where it is now.”
5. N.O.R.E. on Trying to Get Dame Dash to Sign Daddy Yankee
Daddy Yankee is now considered the king of Reggaeton and has sold nearly 20 million records worldwide. N.O.R.E. said that when he collaborated with the star on “Oye Mi Canto,” he brought the Puerto Rican artist to Dame Dash’s house to get him a record deal. However, Dash wasn’t on board with the idea. “You know what Dame Dash told me?” he said. “Give him some clothes. I was heated. I’m like this guy is going to be worth $100 Million and Dame said give him some Rocawear.”
7. On Future Collaborations
Anuel has worked with a list of big named artists such as Shakira, Lil Wayne, and Nicki Minaj. When asked by N.O.R.E. who he would like to work with in the future, Anuel explained that he doesn’t have anyone in mind and would prefer collaborations to come about organically instead of trying to chase people down. “I’m chasing this dream and this goal,” he said. “[It’s] the money, obviously. I can’t be chasing nobody. So, I’m focused on that. Shit be naturally happening. All these features I got, [they happened naturally].”
7. On Drake Liking His Music
Anuel explained that he got the opportunity to meet Drake in Houston, presumably at the Toronto emcee’s Certified Lover Boy album release party in September. During the meetup, Anuel said that Drizzy revealed that he is a fan of his music. “He’s Michael Jackson for this era right now,” he said. “Let’s be real. When I met Drake, it was natural and [he said he liked my music]. That was legendary, though.”
8. On Considering Himself a Hip Hop Artist
It’s no secret that Anuel’s musical panache blends multiple genres including Reggaeton, Latin Trap, and pop music. When asked by DJ EFN if he truly considers himself a hip hop artist, Anuel confirmed that he does. “I just sing in Spanish,” he said. “It’s just hip hop in Spanish. I be saying it in interviews so people learn that.”
9. On Latin Trap Not Receiving Mainstream Recognition
Over the last few years, Latin Trap has exploded in popularity among music fans in Puerto Rico and abroad. However, according to Anuel, mainstream media hasn’t fully embraced it. “I got songs that be on that commercial shit. I got street songs [that have more views than commercial songs], but we don’t get the support from nobody,” he said. “They still don’t accept it.”