Ozuna and Anuel AA's Friendship: From Humble Beginnings to Major Collaborations

The two Puerto Rican superstars have had each other's back from day one.

After working together on a variety of singles over the past six years, Ozuna and Anuel AA took it one step further this year and released a joint album, fusing their unique sounds for Los Dioses.

The Puerto Rican superstars garnered success with collaborative chart-toppers like "Adicto," "China," "Cambio," "Bebé," "La Ocasión" and more. Their album came as no surprise to devoted fans, who, over the years, have heard the longtime friends and "brothers" express their wish to work together on an LP. 

"I’m happy that Los Dioses is finally hitting the street," Ozuna expressed after the record's release. "This is an album that we had wanted to do for years, but our prior commitments had never allowed us the time. I greatly enjoyed the process and the experience of crafting this project with Anuel AA. As you all know, he’s not just a colleague to me – he’s like a brother."

In celebration of their new project, ET is taking a look at Ozuna and Anuel AA's humble beginnings and their inspiring friendship.

An Instant Connection

At first listen, Ozuna and Anuel’s songs and lyrics may appear to be strikingly different, but that’s exactly what brought them together. They first started working together in 2015, and knew that their sound was revolutionary. Both bonding over the hardships of life and success, they became fast friends.

“I listened to Anuel because everyone was against him. It was like, ‘That guy’s crazy,’” Ozuna told Billboard. “Someone has to sing about the pretty things in life, but someone has to sing about the ugly things, too -- what you live when you come from where we came from.”

Anuel added that he “did music for the street,” while his buddy “was commercial.” But by working together, he noted, they evolved musically.

“Ozuna began to make music for the street, and the street responded. And I started to do more commercial music, and the people in that world responded,” Anuel continued. “We’ve had ups and downs, but we’ve never turned our backs on each other.”

First Collaboration and Chart-Toppers

They first worked together in 2015, after Ozuna reached out about doing a remix of Anuel's track, "69." The duo recorded and released the upgraded single in four days. From there, the artists continued to produce and create together.

In 2017, the duo dropped "Bebé," which was featured on Ozuna's debut album, Odisea. The song peaked at No. 28 on the Hot Latin Songs chart, and the two continued their musical journey together.

Their biggest chart-toppers include Anuel's "China," which aside from Ozuna, also features Daddy Yankee, Karol G and J Balvin. The song topped the charts in 2019. Ozuna's "Baila Baila Baila" Remix featuring Anuel, Daddy Yankee, J Balvin and Farruko landed at the No. 3 spot, and "Adicto" reached No. 5 that same year.

A Strong Friendship

Music isn’t the only thing that bonds the two 28-year-old artists -- family and showing support for one another is top on their list. They've had mutual respect for each other since the very first day they met.

"That’s my brother and I trust him a lot. He's smart. He knows what he’s doing too,” Anuel told Zane Lowe, noting the pandemic helped them grow stronger. "I think it [was] the perfect time. It's been since the COVID started, it wasn't easy for everybody to adapt to the situation."

Ozuna added that Anuel makes sure to check in with him, sharing that he’s there on the good and bad days.

"Day by day in my bad moments [he’s] always here. Every day [he’ll ask], ‘What's popping? ‘Zuna, you good?" he said. "Not only music, in personal [life] too, because he's my friend. And he's like a brother too. I love him because it's respect from the first day. That's why I went with him."

It's a two-way street for the singers. In 2016, Anuel was arrested in Puerto Rico, and sentenced to 30 months in federal prison for illegal possession of three firearms. During that time, Ozuna offered to financially help Anuel's family while he served time.

"He did not believe that he was going to be someone great ... even when he was in prison, I told him [that he would be great]," Ozuna said in an interview with People En Espanol. "I always talked to him. While in prison he gave me the theme 'Aura.' We have [grown together] and this is going to add a lot to our careers."

The Birth of a Joint Album

After years of talking about working on a joint album, it finally came to fruition. In October of 2020, they hunkered down at The Hit Factory in Miami and let their creative juices flow.

For long recording sessions, they pushed themselves to the limit, songwriting, arranging and recording what would be their final 12 tracks on Los Dioses. What made it even sweeter is that the two have their own labels and own their masters, with distribution and marketing deals with Sony Music Latin and The Orchard.

"This album is important for both me and Ozuna. We’ve been speaking about this project since 2015 and we haven’t had time to work on the album. We both have great chemistry in the studio and our fans will be able to see the results through this album. I hope all my fans love this special project," Anuel said.

Getting candid about their recording process, they shared how honest they were about their likes and dislikes.

"Artist to artist, it’s really hard. You can’t say, ‘Hey, bring it up here,’ or ‘Drop that there,'" Ozuna told Billboard. "How in the world can you tell Daddy Yankee, an icon, ‘Dude, I don’t like that verse?’ But between us, it’s different. ‘Papi, stop experimenting. This is what you should do here.’ Same thing in the mix. I lower Anuel’s vocals; he lowers my vocals. That’s something no artist would dare do. But we’re completely comfortable with each other."

Anuel even admitted that they would "shout at each other" but "we don’t cross the line. There’s a respect. It’s like a family."

Los Dioses was released on Jan. 22, with Ozuna and Anuel premiering two tracks and their respective music videos -- "Los Dioses'' and "Municiones" -- beforehand. Following the album’s release, they also dropped the first official single and video for "Antes."

They also released a 20-minute behind-the-scenes documentary titled Anuel AA & Ozuna - Los Dioses, sharing their entire recording journey.

Both are set to perform on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on Jan. 29, and will take the stage during Premio Lo Nuestro on Feb. 18.

For more on the superstars, watch below.