Cosculluela Talks the Latin Grammy Street Party and Working With Wisin y Yandel

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Reggaeton has pretty closely mimicked the rise to prominence of hip-hop. It started early in the streets of Puerto Rico, a rougher, edgier version of the club bouncers you hear today and it was known then simply as "underground." But the mixtapes and guerrilla-style bootlegs of early pioneers has given way to artists hitting the million-dollar mark with radio-friendly, made-for-club songs -- much in the same way early gangsta rap gave way to the mainstream hip-pop. But amid all these changes, there are artists who still pay homage to the street sound, even if it's considerably catchier than the underground of their forebears.

Enter Cosculluela. Bred on the early underground of artists like Vico C and Mexicano, Cosculluela, while a new name to the game, is an old-school soul. He approaches reggaeton today with unmistakable grit and edge, albeit with a keen sense of where the line lies, and just how much he can cheat over it, neither accepting to lose the public at large, nor renege on his roots.

Crossfade recently got a chance to catch up with Cosculluela before he comes to Miami for the Latin Grammy Street Party in Hialeah this Sunday.

New Times: You've been one of the urban artists who's made the most noise in the past yea or twor. How does that feel?

Cosculluela: I'm really proud. And besides, for me it's something else entirely. I can say that these past two years my life has changed completely. I used to wake up, hit the studio, record, and now I'm recording the new disc. I haven't stopped in 13 or 14 months. We've been doing a lot more shows, right now I'm here in Miami, then I'm doing a show in P.R. next week, I'm doing Don Francisco today, and then I'm on a plane to Colombia, I have shows there Friday and Saturday, Saturday I'm in Cali. Then next Monday I'm back in Miami. So my life's changed a ton. But this is my thing, it's what I enjoy. This, for me, is a blessing.

What do you think all that success is due to?

A lot of work, brother. And a team that God has put alongside me to work that are the ones. I'm the kind of person who works every day but Christmas. Right now for New Years we're booked for three shows. And I keep booking. And I don't have anyone in my team that isn't like that. Everyone here works 24 hours a day. It looks easy, but it requires a lot of sacrifice, a lot of early mornings. I used to work a day job, and I'd get out of work and lock myself in the studio, and I'd wake up there first thing in the morning to go back to work. And I spent a long time sacrificing--and I'm still sacrificing. Because right now what we're seeing is the beginning of my career. There are a lot of eyes watching me, and they're all like, "what's he going to do next?" And that's what I'm working on.

I'm going to be shooting the video for "Cuidao Wao Wao" here in Miami. That's the first single off the new record. Got a lot going on. We're working very hard.

Tell us about the new record.

I had the record put together for my first disc, El Principe. We negotiated with the label, along with Elias from White Lion, who's part of my management team. And I gave the label 18 tracks, from which they put out an album with 15, leaving out three. Of those there was one called "Humo" ("Smoke"), you know, for the smokers. There was another called "De Noche y de Dia" ("Night and Day"), which is a duo with Yandel. And "Cuidao Au Au," which is the single we're working on now.

So the album came out without those tracks, and I had a lot of faith in "Cuidao Au Au," just like I had a lot of faith in "Prrrum," which the label didn't, and that's the one that hit. But "Humo" got pirated some six months ago, and it was getting more play than "Prrrum." So the label says, "we're competing against ourselves here." So they decided to put those tracks on the relaunch [Ghost Edition], which is El Principe along with these tracks that I wanted on originally. And now we're working on the second album, working with some of the top in the genre, like Tego, Wisin y Yandel, who are always there for me, just like I'm always there for them. And I'm just very happy, to tell you the truth.

Yeah, you worked with Wisin y Yandel on their new track, right? How does it feel to be sought out by such big names in the genre?

Wisin y Yandel are guys that I can tell you called me in confidence and said, "hey let's do a remix for 'Prrrun.'" And we're still in communication. When we're all in Puerto Rico we get together in the studio. I've got some stuff I've worked on with Yandel for the new record, and I'm still waiting on Wisin to come spit. They called me to appear on the new Vaqueros track. And it's just a friendship that we've established. The business has just gotten mixed in, and the result has been explosive.

Talk to us about your style, and how you came by it.

Brother, with a lot of malianteo (hardcore rap/reggaeton) and a lot of street. And at the same time I went picking up a different flow, a different style. I can tell you I'm from the school of Mexicano. I spent a lot of time with that when I was a kid. He was form the Vico C days, and he was very street. And we met, and he's like my brother. When I was a kid, I spent a lot of time in the studio with him. And the style I developed was very street. I couldn't leave that behind. But at the same time, you know if you want to get somewhere, you have to reach everyone. And you know the radio's not going to play plaka plaka. And that's how tracks like "Prrrum" came about. Talking between us, you know that that sound is the sound of an automatic. But we put it together in a more acceptable form. The same with "Cuidao Au Au," which is kind of street, but in P.R. everyone loves it, and you know in this genre, P.R.'s like New York to fashion. If it hits there, it's a hit.

So what can fans expect when you come to Miami for the Latin Grammy Street Party on the 11th?

I was here a couple of months ago and anyone who saw me can tell you, my shows involve a lot of energy. I always bring the complete package. The important thing for me is for people to be up the entire time, dancing, singing, sweating, and having a good time. That's what I'm here for.

Cosculluela performs at the Latin Grammy Street Party in Hialeah (on West 16th Ave, between 37th and 42nd Street) on Sunday, October 10 from 12 noon to 7pm, along with Tito El Bambino, Sohpia del Carmen, Fame, Eddie K., Digital Ninfa and Tres de Habana.
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