Yashua on How Marc Anthony is Helping Him Become the New Latin Prince of R&B (Exclusive)
By Liz Calvario
Juan Antonio Rentas
In a musical landscape where reggaeton and trap are dominating Latin music, Yashua dares to forge his own path.
The 20-year-old Dominican-American singer, songwriter and dancer brings a unique blend of sounds and rhythms to his tracks. After being eliminated from Univision's La Banda in 2015, his passion for music only intensified and kickstarted his career -- which ended up catching the attention of Marc Anthony, who signed him to his label, Magnus Media.
"That was in 2017. We had a big bidding war with, like, five major labels trying to sign me, one of them was Marc Anthony’s Magnus,” Yashua tells ET exclusively over the phone. “We were negotiating for over eight months and in that process we kind of became family. That was the first team that felt like home.”
Meeting Anthony was an experience he will never forget, he says. “It was crazy. He’s like our Michael Jackson of Latin music. He’s a legend."
"He’s like my godfather and I’m the baby of the house,” the singer expresses. "I know that I am going to learn a lot from him, and I know that I will do a lot of great stuff and we will have a lot of success together.”
After dropping "Pena" and "Silencio" -- which has over 6.7 million YouTube views and was released when he wasn't signed to a major label -- Yashua is now giving fans “Todo Es Igual,” which translates to “Everything Is the Same.”
“I’m really talking about myself in the song,” he explains about the Spanglish single. “And in the video, you see that I am talking to the mirror and in the mirror, it’s me. I’m on both sides. I’m basically talking to myself and saying, 'Don’t be the same as you used to. I want to change who I was, but I want to change from who I was to a better me.' I’m telling myself, 'Don’t be the same as before. Change.'”
“This game will change you. It can change you and ruin you, or it can make you grow into a very strong person,” Yashua expresses. “A lot of people don’t go through these things.”
The artist began writing music from a young age, always putting his personal experiences into his lyrics. At 14, his father told him that he should incorporate Spanish lyrics into his songs.
“I used to write music in English. Then my dad told me, ‘You need to start adding Spanish in your lyrics because you’re also Latino and the Latino community supports [its artists],” Yashua shares. “From there on, I took on the whole Spanglish thing into my lyrics. [The mix of both languages] has only been done a handful of times in Latin and American [music]. So I took that lane.”
His Latino culture has always influenced and motivated him since day one. “My culture gave me my rhythm,” he stresses. “Latinos, we have so many different rhythms. We have the Brazilian funk, we have the Puerto Rican sound, they found reggaeton and then we have the new version of reggaeton which is Colombia. And now trap has become a big thing. I’m just mixing all these elements that my culture is bringing, and already had, and mixing it with a new sound.”
For Yashua, he wants to create his own lane, a blend of propulsive pop and R&B that isn’t heard much throughout Latin music. Influenced by both Latin and American hip-hop beats, he counts Drake and Michael Jackson as artists he looks up to and respects for being themselves.
“I found a balance between the American [sound], using American producers and American writers and then mixing them in the same studios with Spanish and Latino writers," Yashua says. "We’re making a blend, still the quality that the Americans have with the rhythm and love that the Latinos put in.”
“I have a lot of inspirations from Michael Jackson, Chris Brown, Justin Timberlake... but I’m always trying to make something new and original,” he continues. “I feel like a lot of the things that are on the radio sound the same, so I try not to listen to the radio or the Top 100 unless it’s the number one song. I try not to pay attention to that and create my own art, and hopefully, people feel inspired about my new thing and want to copy it and [my fusion] becomes a new trend.”
“I want to make a new lane, my own lane,” he states. “There is no one doing R&B in Spanish and I want to take that and be the first to do what I do.”
As he conquers that goal, Yashua is gearing up to release his debut album at “the beginning of the year.”
“We have a good body of work,” he notes. “We have a good problem. We have so many songs that we have to pick which ones to go in. That’s a good problem to have. We’re going to lock it down [soon].”
With a bright future ahead of him, he also hopes to one-day win Artist of the Year at the GRAMMYs, win an award and start touring. “I just want to meet my fans,” he says. He's also paying attention to the artists around him -- “I study careers. I study what they do and what they didn’t do" -- and tries to learn from them.
As for what he’s taking in from working with Anthony, it’s “how to move.” “We’re ‘vibe’ people, mysterious,” he explains. “He’s all about his team and making the right moves. Staying hidden, but still being out there. He’s teaching me how to move like a boss.”