At Fuse, we're celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month with Future Hispanic History Month, highlighting rising stars who are creating history before our very eyes. Today we salute Nicky Jam, whose started his career long ago but is finally coming into his own.
Nicky Jam was born Nick Rivera Caminero in Boston, and left the U.S. to live with family in Puerto Rico when he was 10. When he was just a kid, he was discovered freestyling outside the grocery store where he worked and was signed to an indie label, putting out his first rap/reggae album at 14. Over the course of his decades-long career, he has become known for his work with Daddy Yankee, and together, they were known as Los Cangris. Songs like "Sabanas Blancas," "Guayando" and "Sentirte" got the special Los Cangris touch, but in 2004, they went their separate ways.
Those were dark times for Jam, who developed a nasty addiction to drugs and alcohol. He sank a little lower, singing lounge songs for tourists rather than continuing his ascent. And in 2007, he knew he had to do something about it. He moved to Columbia, where he started to regain his footing.
"They made me feel like I was a legend," he told Billboard. "The boost they gave me made me want to be a better person. I started eating OK, I stopped drugs, I stopped alcohol. People came to love me because I was loving myself."
By 2014, Jam was back and stronger than ever with his breakout hit "Travesuras," which helped him score a deal with Sony. The song also got the attention of Enrique Iglesias. "I've been a fan of Nicky's for a while, but what was really interesting is how moving from PR to Colombia shook his musical style," Iglesias told Billboard. "He's writing songs I love."
Iglesias went on to record 2015's "El Perdón" with Jam, and the song racked up three Latin Grammy awards, including Song of the Year, and now has 627 million listens on YouTube.
Jam has also reconciled with his mentor Daddy Yankee, appearing on his 2012 album, Prestige. How's that for a happy ending?