As far as the global stage goes, there's never been a better time to be a Latin music artist. Spanish-speaking musicians are topping the charts not only in Latin America but in North America and Europe as well.
Still, there is a problem plaguing música en español reminiscent of what happened in the late 2000s and early 2010s when EDM was the buzziest genre. Though EDM came to refer to the pop-leaning style of dance music, it was often misused to refer to anything that sounded remotely electronic. Latin music is going through similar growing pains, with everyone referring to anything sung in Spanish as reggaeton or urbano.
A lot of this comes from ignorance, of course. English-speaking music journalists who suddenly have to cover a popular genre they can't always understand certainly doesn't make it easy. Still, New Times has seen Spanish speakers refer to songs that are obviously not reggaeton as such, so let's chalk it up to laziness.
This miscategorization certainly affects artists like Mora, the Puerto Rican singer-songwriter and producer who, while cutting his teeth in Puerto Rico's urbano music scene, has certainly expanded his sonic palette. Listening to his latest album, Microdosis, it's pretty evident that his musical influences go beyond DJ Playero's 1990s-style reggaeton. The album shares so many similarities with the music released by Drake or the Weeknd that labeling the entire project "alternative R&B" feels more appropriate.
"The album has its reggaeton tracks, but it's not a reggaeton album," Mora tells New Times from Spain, where he's on tour. "There's a little bit of everything. I tried making it as musical as possible."
The album follows 2021's Primer Día de Clases, his debut with Rimas Entertainment, the label home to artists like Amenazzy, Jowell & Randy, and, of course, Bad Bunny. Before signing with Rimas in 2018, he produced music for artists in Puerto Rico. And in 2020, he got his first taste of fame after appearing on Bad Bunny's critically acclaimed album YHLQMDLG on the track "Una Vez." (The song peaked at number 18 on Billboard's Hot Latin Songs chart.)
But if Primer Día de Clases was his debut album, Microdosis is perhaps his proper introduction to the music listener. Unencumbered by the pandemic, he's now free to promote his sophomore effort properly.
"They are two very different albums," he says. "Primer Día de Clases was my first album, and we were still in the middle of the pandemic, so there weren't any shows. I just started to sing those songs live this year. Microdosis has had a better response because people are now expecting something from me. I released the first album, and I basically disappeared for almost a year until I released the second one."
Still, Mora contends that regardless of the live performances, what everyone wants is music — good music, to be exact.
On Microdosis, he seeks to deliver that with an amalgamation of sounds, from the urbano-ballad "Escalofríos," which samples Alejandro Sanz's “Corazón Partío," to the electropop number "Memorias," featuring Jhay Cortez. With a willingness to adapt his sound to fit the song's mood, Mora sets himself apart from many of his contemporaries. (It's also the winning formula that has worked for his labelmate Bad Bunny.)
"I listen to a little bit of everything," Mora responds when asked about his influences. "I'm never listening to the same thing, from electronica to salsa and ballads."
After wrapping up a European summer tour, Mora has hopped back over this side of the Atlantic to perform at Oasis Wynwood on Sunday, July 31, in a concert presented by Vibra Urbana. And with Miami being at least a part-time home to so many of his collaborators, one can't help but wonder if there will be any special guests at the show.
"That depends on the situation," he says about the possibility. "We'll have to see who's in Miami and if they are free."
It remains to be seen who will make an appearance at Sunday's show. And as far as going on tour again with Bad Bunny this summer as part of World's Hottest Tour, Mora says it's unlikely.
"I have my own things now," Mora notes. "It's not like the previous tours when I was basically free. If I can make it to a couple of shows, I imagine I'll stop by, but it's not going to be like it used to be, spending the entire time on the tour."
Mora.6 p.m. Sunday, July 31, at Oasis Wynwood, 2335 N. Miami Ave., Miami; oasiswynwood.com. Tickets cost $55 via tixr.com.
KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE...
Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Jose D. Duran is the associate editor of Miami New Times. He's the strategist behind the publication's eyebrow-raising Facebook and Twitter feeds. He has also been reporting on Miami's cultural scene since 2006. He has a BS in journalism and will live in Miami as long as climate change permits.