Photo courtesy of Fuego
Anyone who spends enough time lurking the deepest trenches of SoundCloud and YouTube knows that those sites are filled with truckloads of basement musicians and laptop producers living in their mothers’ garages, trying to become the next Diplo. The worst of all the oversaturated offenders are the cute little powder puffs that think covering a Future or Chief Keef song in the acoustic musical styling of Jason Mraz is some sort of life-altering Grammy-worthy accomplishment. It’s not. But every now and then, an artist emerges from the Internet Cover Song Abyss to really knock us on our ass and capture the hearts of music listeners around the world. Our hero today is Fuego, a Dominican singer, rapper, and songwriter who has taken social media by storm with his near-perfect Spanish language rendition of Drake’s “Hotline Bling.” It's called "Cuando Suena El Bling," and some people have declared it "better than Drake's." I recently caught up with the mysterious digital crooner who may well be on his way to starting the second-wave Latin explosion here in the States.
Noisey: What up, Fuego. Can you give us little background on yourself?
Fuego: Well, I was born in DC. I now live in Miami. Been here for about six years but yes, I'm Dominican, and I represent Latinos worldwide.
How long have you been making music and what are some of the inspirations and influences behind your work?
I've been making music for over ten years now. My influences are my father and my cousin Romantico from the bachata group Optimo. They always had me around music, singing or playing instruments when I was a child. But I grew up listening to straight hip-hop and R&B like Snoop, 2pac, R. Kelly, Bone Thugs, Biggie, etc. Hip-hop is my strongest influence. I used to learn every song, I believe it's how I learned to flow.
“Hotline Bling” has a very bachata feel with the production and Drake's lyrics. Was the Latin style of the original one of the reasons you chose to remake it?
Well, yes, definitely the sound, and I am a fan. Drake is one of the greatest artists of our time. I can relate to a lot of his lyrics and I remix his and other hip-hop artists’ music all the time, whether it's on the same beat or on reggaeton, or even on a merengue electronico version.
Gyptian's hit song "Hold You" was the most successful remix/remake in my entire career, which I named "Una Vaina L,oca" which generated over 100 million views on YouTube. I've been doing it for a long time. I've done covers/remixes for: “DnF” by P-Rayne featuring Drake, “We Dem Boyz” by Wiz Khalifa, which we did a video for in Europe, you can watch that on my YouTube channel, Fuegovision1. Also “Marvins Room” by Drake, “Leather So Soft” by Lil Wayne, “Swagger Like Us.” Music from Young Jeezy, Rihanna, Three 6 Mafia, 50 Cent... I can keep going. I just remixed Yo Gotti and Young Thug’s "Rihanna" and Majid Jordan featuring Drake's "My Love." You'll be hearing those any day now.
What was the recording process like?
I fell in love with the original. I was like I got to do a Spanish version for it, it sounds like a bachata. I don’t write on paper or in my phone, I write in my head. So I just got the beat online, went in the booth, and started mumbling lyrics to his melodies. And I translated it and put a little Dominican slang in there, and it honestly came out doper than I expected.
Sometimes when going from English to Spanish, words and ideas get lost in translation, you were able to maintain and capture the heartfelt sadness perfectly, how long did it take you translate the lyrics?
Not long. I already make dark and dramatic music, aside from all the club hits I have, so it wasn’t hard at all for me. I understand everything Drake is saying and the energy he gives off, I can relate to what he's talking about so it makes it easier.
Drake linked up with Romeo Santo's for "Odio.” Would you be down to work on some Spanish language with Drake and the OVO crew?
Definitely. Drake is one of my favorite artists and this is something the Latin scene needs, especially now that the Latin rap/trap/urban movement is growing both in the streets and in the mainstream.
When I first came across “Cuando Suenda El Bling,” it had a few thousand plays, now it’s become a Soundcloud hit, how did you bring awareness to the song? Social media? Twitter?
Yeah, I posted it on my Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, but really, we just uploaded it on SoundCloud and a few days later, it was everywhere.
You show a lot of love to your fans on Twitter, how important is your connection to la gente?
Very important. Without my fans’ support, none of this could be possible. My connection with them is everything. I make music from the heart for them, so their feedback is very important.
Women from all over the world love Spanish music and the Latino flavor, how do you deal with all the women?
I don't mind it. It gets pretty crazy. My shows are 80 percent women but I spend my time focused on creating.
I was lurking your SoundCloud and you really have a diverse style and range of songs. Is crossing over into English language something you could see happening down the line?
Definitely. I have some songs in English ready, just waiting for the right moment.
The song with Pitbull is incredible. How did you link up with Mr. Worldwide?
I've worked with Pitbull in the past. We had a hit song with "Mi Alma se Muere" and now I am a part of his label Mr. 305 Inc./FamousArtist. I had recorded the record with DJ Chino [Pitbull’s DJ] and Develop, who is a producer that works a lot with Lil Wayne. DJ Chino played it for Pit, he loved it, and put two verses on it. Now it’s track six on his album, Dale.
Any more collaborations lined up?
Working on something with Farruko at the moment, got some other collaborations in the works for my album as well.
What's your favorite reggaeton album? I grew up on Mas Flow, that shit was crazy!
Me too. And some other older stuff too like Playero, The Noise, and my favorite was La Industria because it had that Latin rap in there.
What would you do if Donald Trump gets elected president? I'm Mexican, so I'd move to Canada.
Nothing, because it is not going to happen. This is our country now. Latinos!
What's next for Fuego?
I'll be in Europe soon touring. You can be on the lookout for new music videos and music. Fireboy Forever 2 is coming soon and my second album, which is almost done.