Even from throughout the ocean of pixels that comprise our zoom name, Jay Wheeler’s power is infectious. He is simply spent nearly all of the day in a press junket, and I’m one among his final calls. But when the 29-year-old artist would slightly be doing one thing else, it does not present. When Wheeler enters the room, he’s in excessive spirits, playfully joking round together with his group earlier than sitting down in a director’s chair flanked by artwork from his newest EP, “Emociones 1.5.” Two issues instantly turn out to be crystal clear: First, that Wheeler is ready to make 2023 his largest yr but. And second, that regardless of his expertise and great success, the Puerto Rican artist stays as humble and real as they arrive.
Born José Ángel López Martínez, Wheeler’s humility is a product of humble beginnings, specifically a childhood spent within the small city of Salinas in southern Puerto Rico, a spot the place the mountains gently sidle right down to the Caribbean Sea. It’s in Salinas that Wheeler says he skilled all the things that makes him who he’s.
“It was all the things. Sophisticated, stunning, ugly. Each main occasion in my life occurred to me in Salinas. I fell in love for the primary time. I used to be cheated on for the primary time. I fought there. I used to be bullied there,” he tells POPSUGAR in Spanish. “However I would not change it for something. Salinas is gorgeous.”
By now, Wheeler’s encounters with bullying in class are properly documented. Trauma precipitated him to shrink back from the highlight out of concern that he would not be accepted. However with all, he is gone on to attain since, it is easy to know why Wheeler may be glad about all that has occurred to him. Every little thing he has skilled has molded him into the individual he’s right this moment, one which not solely is aware of precisely who he’s but in addition who he desires to be.
In urbano music, that is a uncommon factor. As with many offshoots of the hip-hop motion, artists within the style will be tempted to dial up the bravado and difficult discuss with the intention to make an influence. However not Wheeler.
“I do not attempt to be one thing I am not or undertaking myself as somebody I am not. I’m myself and I am at all times going to be myself.”
“I do not attempt to be one thing I am not or undertaking myself as somebody I am not. I’m myself and I am at all times going to be myself,” he says. I like comedy, I prefer to make folks giggle. I prefer to make music. I am not going to be what different folks need me to be. I am at all times going to be myself.”
Whereas Wheeler credit a protracted record of individuals for his success, from his mom to his group, his steadfast angle is clearly the largest issue. In spite of everything, Wheeler’s rise got here at a time when entice Latino and maleanteo (a subgenre just like gangsta rap) had been reaching new heights in recognition, one thing the singer says sophisticated his seek for his voice.
“I was a rapper,” the artist says, switching seamlessly to English. “I assumed that was going to be my path to success,” Wheeler recollects with a smile. However all that might change following a very dangerous heartbreak that his greatest buddy satisfied him to channel right into a track. After he’d labored on the refrain, the artist who’d grown up singing in each his home and in church, thought for the primary time, “singing may be it.”
However making an influence with a extra romantic and nostalgic fashion whereas crime-laced lyrics and braggadocious conduct continued to promote, proved difficult.
“It was actually exhausting to make my mark, to make folks perceive that I sing romantic music, and make them give me a shot once we’re in the midst of the entice period,” he says.”However I knew that eventually, somebody would look over to this facet and say “okay, I am bored with [trap], I am transferring on to [romantic]. And I am grateful that now once they ask who represents the romantiqueo style, you have to point out Jay Wheeler.”
Since he first hit the scene together with his large hit “La Curiosidad,” (a track which the artist refers to as “la bendicion”), Wheeler has turn out to be one of the vital distinguished figures within the style. Together with contemporaries like Maluma, Manuel Turizo, and Sech, the Salinas native is the most recent to hold the torch in a protracted line of reggaeton crooners that features legends like Zion y Lennox, Divino, and Arcangel, all of whom have made an influence on the younger artist.
Throughout his newest present on the Coliseo de Puerto Rico, he really introduced out Divino together with different icons of the style. It was an unbelievable option to not solely honor one of many pioneers of the romantiqueo style however to bridge its previous, current, and future. Enjoying the “Choli,” because the coliseum is colloquially identified in Puerto Rico, is one thing each child throughout each barrio in Puerto Rico desires of, a lot in order that Wheeler is definitely floating the concept of tattooing himself with the date of the present. And for him to share his second with a number of the individuals who have helped pave the best way for him exhibits the depth of his humility.
However whereas he’s greater than prepared to share the highlight together with his friends and idols, Wheeler will at all times labor to carve his personal path and hunt down challenges as they come up. When requested what differentiates his music, he solutions with out hesitation:
“I really feel I convey extra unhappiness. My interpretation leans extra in direction of the issues that do you injury and make you endure,” he says with a smile. “If you take heed to a Jay Wheeler track you have bought two choices: change it since you do not wish to really feel unhappy or be stated.” Nonetheless, whereas his lyrical content material revels in heartbreak, it could be unfair to cut back Wheeler to only one other lovesick singer. He is a flexible artist, musician, and producer, able to switching genres faster than most DJs can. One want look no additional than his final album, “Emociones” and the next EP, “Emociones 1.5” for proof.
“‘Emociones’ was a really particular album for me. At the moment, individuals are accustomed to you launching a undertaking, and inside a month it is outdated and so they need one thing else,” he explains. “I wished to increase [the project], so we got here up with “Emociones 1.5.”
Throughout each the LP and EP, the singer says he wished to make use of totally different genres to play off his followers’ feelings in numerous methods.
“Working with feelings is a bit sophisticated, however if you handle to convey all of them collectively in a single undertaking, it is a stupendous factor,” he says.”I feel that is what making an album is all about, giving folks a wide range of music. If you wish to really feel unhappy, here is the track. If you would like time, here is the track. If you would like some entice, here is the track.”
However what makes Wheeler’s genre-bending prowess much more spectacular is that he does it in real-time, with out the usage of a pen or a pad.
“I do not write. What I am going to do is stand in entrance of the mic and take heed to the beat, I am going to improvise just a little stream with none lyrics, and after, I am going to begin including the lyrics to the stream as they arrive,” Wheeler says. “I feel it is higher that manner as a result of I really feel like all the things occurs proper there within the second.”
But, even when Wheeler prefers to improvise his songs within the sales space, when it got here to his first English-language launch, “For You,” the singer admits he wanted just a little assist.
“I am not going to deceive you, I wanted help from a couple of folks that basically know English, ” Wheeler says as he lets out fun. Whereas he is fairly fluent in terms of talking the language, the singer notes that singing in English comes with distinctive complexities.
“There are occasions when the pronunciation is distinct, and you may’t pronounce it how you’ll say it,” he says. By no means one to shrink back from a problem although, Wheeler plans to launch extra English-language songs sooner or later.
“I’ve a number of respect for English-language music. My mother used to play it for me once I was younger, and I really thought I might find yourself being a singer in English slightly than Spanish. So this undertaking in English is extra of a private factor,” the artist says.
In December, Wheeler married Venezuelan singer Zhamira Zambrano, a union he says has impacted his artistry in probably the most constructive manner doable. However that does not imply that he will cease singing about heartbreak. Wheeler is assured that his relationship with Zambrano will solely deepen his capability to interpret the complete vary of feelings.
“Lord prepared, I am by no means heartbroken once more, however I think about that no matter [hardships] I’m going by means of with [Zhamira], will clearly harm extra as a result of she’s my spouse,” he says.”Nevertheless it’s additionally essential to know that if you’re singing, you are appearing for the ears and also you’re deciphering feelings. So even being in love, it will not be exhausting for me to do this.”
That is the attractive factor about Wheeler’s artistry: he desires you to see him as he actually is. His pleasure, his ache, it is all proper there on the floor as a result of he is aware of that what he is been by means of, so many others on the market are experiencing or will expertise the identical. Sure, he is a flexible singer-songwriter, and sure, not all his songs are about heartache. However he is aware of from expertise that el desamor, both those we expertise ourselves or those we see our family members expertise, will be paralyzing. So he is constructed his model on offering us with an outlet to alleviate a few of that ache. And within the course of, he is constructed himself right into a star set to make 2023 his largest yr but.