Luis Fonsi spoke with Billboard on Feb. 1, the release day of his new album Vida, to talk about his new “500-pound baby,” finally released a full two years after “Despacito.”
“In the beginning, I wanted to release the album because it was ready,” Fonsi says. “But I said, let’s show people little by little my quote, unquote ‘new sound.’ I hate using that expression, but so much has happened since my last album that it’s a new time. At the end of the day, two years later, here we are.”
Vida is not a collection of “Despacitos,” but a well-balanced album that digs deep into Fonsi’s R&B and romantic side with soaring ballads and mid-tempo tracks where he makes good use of his beautiful voice, always his strongest asset.
“I’ve always been like this,” he says. “Obviously earlier in my career the songs that were promoted were more ballad driven. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t do the uptempo, R&B songs. They were tucked in there. But I haven’t changed my way of writing a song or performing.”
Notable tracks, beside “Despacito,” “Echame la culpa” and new single “Sola” — in English and Spanish — include “Ahi Estas Tu” (There You Are), which Fonsi wrote for his baby boy Rocco.
“[Album producers] Andres [Torres] and Mauricio [Rengifo] flew down here to Miami and spent a lot of time here, in my house and my studio, writing, working, and they lived all of this with me,” says Fonsi, telling the story behind the track. “My wife’s pregnancy, his birth. We were all sort of very emotional and positively inspired by his birth, and we’re songwriters. How can you not write a song about this?”
As it turns out, Rocco was born on the same day, Dec. 20, as his older sister Mikaela, which explains why their dad has the date tattooed below his neck.
“The other part of the tattoo is an Emmy Lou Harris guitar. It’s a Gibson, which is my go-to guitar where I write all of my songs. And underneath there’s a record player with my kids’ names,” he says.
How about a tattoo of “Despacito?”
“I’m waiting to do that on my face. Right here,” Fonsi laughs. “No,” he adds quickly. “That is not going to happen anytime soon.”
As far as life post-“Despacito” goes, Fonsi says that the song will always hold a special place in his heart.
“I think one song doesn’t define a career,” says Fonsi, whose 2008 hit “No Me Doy Por Vencido” spent 49 weeks on the Hot Latin Songs chart and 19 at No. 1. “But definitely there’s a before and an after and I realize that, and I will always be happy to sing it, and it will always bring me back to a special time.”
Watch the full interview above.