In 2014, after a six-year hiatus due in part to battles with drug addiction, Nicky Jam earned her first entry and top 10 on Billboard‘s Hot Latin Songs chart with “Travesuras” (“Mischief”) – and it has charted every year since. In 2015 he topped the same chart for 30 weeks with his “El Perdón” (“Pardon”) assisted by Enrique Iglesias and the following year, “Hasta el Amanecer” (“Until sunrise”) him earned his second No. 1 and first solo, ruling for 18 weeks. “I felt like my mojo was going crazy,” he says. “Everything I touched was magic when it came to the studio.”
Instead of letting the pandemic stall her momentum, the 41-year-old star has found new opportunities. He kicked off 2021 with his own web series, The Rockstar Show (its third season will air soon) and has opened its own restaurant La Industria Bakery & Cafe in Miami (with upcoming expansions in Puerto Rico, Orlando, Florida and Medellín, Colombia). Despite working on a new album, businessman Nicky Jam feels just as invincible, with plans for even more restaurants, as well as nightclubs and hotels in the US and Colombia. . As he says, “All of this makes me feel like a rock star, and I can’t stop.”
At this stage of your career, why were you eager to explore new ventures?
We had days without doing anything, and all I could do was just brainstorm and come up with all these projects. Thank goodness I had the budget to do these things. Everything I do is to make people feel inspired. I want them to realize I was a drug addict, I was in jail, I was down, and they’re looking at me now. I have reached the high point of my career. I’ve played at the World Cup, made Hollywood movies and broken records in the music industry. Now I do restaurants and hotels, not just to connect with my fans, but to hopefully motivate them. I want to lead people on the right path.
What is the most rewarding experience you have had hosting your web series?
To be honest, it gave me back what I needed, and that’s that engagement with people. I grew up and I’m not really the guy to take a song and make a TikTok video or dance. I used to be an early influencer back then, but today I don’t think it would feel organic. There are so many people who do it. So many influencers. I feel more approachable when I host the show because it reminds people why they love Nicky Jam in the first place. I share so many stories and I speak without filter, and that’s what the show gives. I hope that happens when I make it a TV show. I’ve already been offered some money, but I don’t want to sell it yet.
With a musical career that spans almost 30 years, what do you think will be your legacy in reggaeton?
My legacy is my story, where I come from and the sacrifices I had to make to be where I am today. The sacrifices that not only me [made] but also my colleagues such as Daddy Yankee, Tego Calderón, Baby Rasta y Gringo and more at [take] reggaetón where it is today. The success of Bad Bunny, for example, is what makes me happy because I’ve been working my ass off since 1994 for there to be artists like him filling stadiums and making history. I know he’s worked hard to be where he is, but behind his success is also mine. Bad Bunny is the #1 artist on the planet right now, and I’m proud of it. It’s my legacy.
What have you learned from the past two years about the importance of having multiple projects?
When you do nothing, it’s the worst thing in the world. That’s why it’s important to keep your mind busy and happy while still having focus and purpose. This is the mentality that helps me to continue in all my projects. Nicky Jam’s trademark isn’t just the music. It doesn’t matter if I’m not at the top of the charts: I’m always going to look like a premium brand. All you have to do is maintain it.
This story originally appeared in the September 17, 2022 issue of Billboard.