When Arcangel released Los Favoritos in 2015, he wanted to apply an old — but fruitful — methodology to his musicianship. Back in the ’90s and 2000s, reggaeton producers took center stage in record-making and enlisted a slew of the burgeoning talent nurtured in the slums of Puerto Rico to form part of the cohesive rosters on their respective albums. More often than not, these projects became stepping stones for these new artists and a coveted accolade for their curators.
“The stars of the genre were the producers, not the actual singers,” Arcangel tells New Times over Zoom. “These producers are people like DJ Nelson, DJ Negro, The Noise, La Industria, Playero, who would make full-length albums with all these reggaeton singers.”
“So in 2015, I was like: Why don’t we bring this back? But let’s not just bring in back — let’s do something different. Let’s include various artists and myself on each track,” he continues. “And it did really well. We went platinum.”
He produced the album alongside Puerto Rican producer DJ Luian, roping in acts like Zion y Lennox, Nicky Jam, J. Balvin, Mozart La Para, Jory, Wisin, and Farruko for guest spots.
Owing in part to disagreements with his former label, Pina Records, the 34-year-old superstar has waited five years to release Los Favoritos 2. In the meantime, he released the more introspective Historias de un Capricornio in 2019.
Last week, Los Favoritos 2 finally saw the light of day and is available on streaming services worldwide.
Arcangel says he now realizes it was worth the wait.
“I can assure you that we made this one 500 percent better than the last,” he offers, the confidence apparent on his face. “God’s timing is perfect, and I live by that.”
On this autumn morning, Arcangel (born Austin Augustin Santos) is holed up in his home studio in Orlando. He’s sporting a plain white T-shirt paired with a red dad hat emblazoned with the phrase “palm angels.” Silver jewelry adorns his slight frame as he shares his excitement about his newest project. He’s chatty, friendly, and talks like an overzealous politician who’ll do anything to win your vote.
But it’s no empty sales job. The music is really that good.
Los Favoritos 2 is shot through with topnotch production. Its futuristic, fresh sound transports you into a parallel sonic universe, one that provides the perfect backdrop for the album’s ribald anthems about sex, love, and the streets.
The album features a slew of talented artists — including Rauw Alejandro, Myke Towers, and Ozuna — who were virtual unknowns five years ago, but also the legends who reigned supreme even before Arcangel made a name for himself.
For the romantic “Emilio & Gloria,” a nod to Miami’s most beloved couple, Emilio and Gloria Estefan, Arcangel enlisted Wisin y Yandel, which he considers a major coup.
“It’s really special because, after 15 years in my career, I accomplished a song with Wisin y Yandel, whom I’ve been listening to since I was a child,” he says. “I’ve worked with each of them solo, but I’ve never had the opportunity to have them in one song together.”
Emilio Estefan heard the song and offered to provide private images of himself and Gloria for the music video.
“About a month ago, I had the opportunity to talk with Emilio for the first time, and I was as nervous as if I were speaking to him in person,” he recounts. “It doesn’t matter that he never made anything in my genre of music, but as a fan of music in general, I owe this man a lot of respect. He’s done so many huge things for Latin culture in general.”
Arcangel sees the relatively youthful Dominican dembow genre as an opportunity for urban Dominican artists to keep pushing and challenging Latin culture as reggaeton has done.
“I’m the biggest fan of Dominican urban music on the planet,“ he says. “Everything is a process, and dembow is going through a great process right now. In a couple of years, there are going to be artists like El Lapiz Conciente, Vakero, El Alfa, who are going to be considered legends. They are the blueprint for the others to come in.”
“The Dominican movement is going to go so far in urban music,” he goes on. “The stars of the future are probably going to school right now and don’t know they are going to be stars.”
There’s no denying Arcangel has an ear for great music, which comes in handy for his newest goal: focusing on production.
To that end, he has been busy during quarantine.
“I took advantage of this time to work, and I have so many songs I never thought I would have,” he shares.
“From now on, you’ll see an Arcangel who is more of a producer than a singer,” he says. “I have so much passion for this that I can listen to a raindrop and find rhythm in it.”