How Rosalía and J Balvin Made ‘Con Altura’ a Global Reggaeton Hit | Diary of a Song

“Vamo’ a arrancarlo
con altura.” “Hola.” “Hello.” “Hey.” “Hola que tal?” “I smell hits, man. I do.” “Is there any way that you can
call me back in two minutes?” “Yeah, yeah, yeah. You brushing your teeth?” “Yeah, I’m brushing my teeth.” “We’re going to start this,
but in a, like, on the level,
you know?” [singing’] “Spanish music is just having this beautiful moment
that artists like me — I’m from Barcelona. It’s a blessing that I
can share my music with so many people around the world.” [singing] “What do you remember about
the sessions for ‘Con Altura’ and how that started?” “Yeah, I remember
that I said I wanted to do a song that has
this classic reggaeton vibe, like Daddy Yankee. It feels like they
are rapping. But it’s not rapping because
it has melody, you know? And I love that.” “When you’re making
a sound for her, she knows exactly
what sound she wants. That to me, is like,
I don’t know, that’s Rick Rubin [expletive],
you know what I mean?” “So I was thinking,
O.K., I would like to do a session with
Pablo and with Frank Dukes.” “You know, her kind of having
this really, like, unique approach to pop music was,
like, super exciting for me.” “Frank pulled, like,
little different, like, samples, loops. The ear he has
for sound design, like, his stuff always
sounds special.” “My friend Teo had made
the little voice loop, and it was way slower.” [music] “And I’d sped it up.” [music] “I just had this
vision for Rose to do something like
super hypnotic.” [singing] “This melody was sick. I was just like, O.K., O.K.,
let’s do something with this. And I proposed Pablo
to create percussion.” “It was just like that
boom, tap-boom, tap-boom. Tap-boom, tap.” [music] “Just like a reggaeton beat,
like, everywhere in the world kind of like understand that is a reggaeton beat.” “Whenever I was making
the drums, Rosalía was looking
for samples.” “I was just digging
on the internet. I was just digging, digging,
digging, digging, digging.” “We love to look on
YouTube for stuff and just, like, have fun and laugh.” “And I found it, and
I was like, O.K., this is something amazing —” “… arrancarlo con altura —” “I remember her
playing something, and then Pablo being like,
‘Oh that.’” “Vamo’ a arrancarlo
con altura.” “Con altura, like that.” “So Pablo just started
[expletive] — [expletive] with it,
do you say that, you know?” “Con altura. Con altura. Con altura.” “Hello.” “Yeah, what’s up?” “Fresh teeth.” “Yeah.” “Tell me a little bit about
the phrase ‘con altura.’ Where did it come from? What does it mean?” “Con altura is with style,
with, you know — with elegance.” “I was, O.K., this is like —” “We all just started to
kind of, like, freestyling, writing melodies
and rhythms to it. But me, just using
my ears phonetically to be like, ‘Oh, that sounds
good’ — because obviously I don’t know. I don’t speak Spanish.” [singing] “Some people, I think
they hear camaron, and they think it’s
shrimp or something. But that’s also — that’s a
flamenco musician, right?” “Yes. When I was 13-years-old,
I discovered Camarón de la Isla.” “He just changed, completely,
my perspective of expression, art. It just changed
my life, you know?” “She contacted me and invited me
to one of her shows. It was like a
little, little show. But the way she pulled it off,
I thought, she’s a star. She may not know it,
but she’s a star.” “When I just finished
the show, I just met him, and then he told me,
‘You’re a gangster.’ He told me that. I think we are an amazing team,
producing together, composing together, and making
music in general together, you know?” [singing] “And is it your
voice on the hook?” “Yeah, yeah, it’s my
voice on the hook.” “So you originally
recorded it, thinking somebody else would come
in and fill in those parts?” “Yep.” “We wanted to
have Tego Calderón.” “For whatever reason,
it didn’t work out. But, like, regardless of what
happened, it’s just like — it just sounded really
[expletive] good with Pablo on it.” “I was excited about the song. And I was proud of it. I just started thinking
about who I would like to have in this song.” “Hola, José.” “Hey, como estas?” “The hair’s fire right now.” “Thank you, my G, you know.” “Balvin is a good
friend of mine. So I just sent the song
by WhatsApp, and he just replied
to me like, ‘What — que es esto?’” “I loved it. I wasn’t expecting
that when she — when she sent me
the song, you know? It’s not that I wasn’t
expecting something good from her. But I wasn’t expecting it
was like a straight-up, pure reggaeton. I was like, ‘Wow, this is fire. Let’s do it.’” “He was, like, very
excited with the song, too. So in less than
24 hours, he just sent me his bars.” [singing] “Right away, next day,
she sent me that. I did it right away.” “You know, he just did it. And it was amazing — I loved it.” [singing] “Was any part of you nervous
about making a reggaeton song? You’re from Spain. It’s not necessarily
what people would imagine you would do next.” “I mean, I guess that
I always do something that nobody expects, honestly,
because for me, that’s what makes sense and
that’s the point of being a musician.” [singing] Were you guys really on
a plane, or was it a set?” “It’s a set. It’s a set. Yeah. No, I don’t know
how fly a plane.” “Just making sure.” [singing]


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