Genero Urbano is having a moment now. Whether it's Bad Bunny's seemingly limitless success, Rosalía's recent Latin Grammys wins, or the slew of new ambassadors like La Gabi, Musas, and others championing burgeoning music scenes in places like DR and Colombia, reggaeton and Latin trap are reaching more ears than ever before. With his latest release, "Jetski Remix," Puerto Rican artist Roa looks to evolve the genre's sound while bringing it back to one of the places it was born.
Released this past Friday, Dec. 2, "Jetski Remix" sees Roa employing his signature brand of smooth lyrics and breathy vocals alongside up-and-coming Puerto Rican spitters Omar Courtz and Dei V, as well as trap superstar Bryant Myers. The single caps off a busy year for Roa, with the young artist having already released the tracks "Bellakeame," "Jetski" (original), and "Pa Cuando." It's a work rate that harkens back to the days of The Noise and DJ Nelson when the pioneers of reggaeton would put out track after track to keep the party going and the masses moving.
Roa's old-school work ethic is no coincidence. His stepfather, Louis "Lou" Morales, funded many of the early mixtapes that laid the foundation for today's trap and reggaeton. In fact, as a kid, it wasn't uncommon for Roa to wander into his living room and find his viejo holding court with Daddy Yankee or Nicky Jam. With a parent in the music business, a career in reggaeton might seem like a no-brainer. But it wasn't until Roa's sophomore year in college that he decided to get serious about his music. Unfortunately, Roa's stepfather wouldn't get to see him pursue his dreams, passing away before the reggaetonero got a chance to share his music. But from the tragic loss, Roa found a greater motivation.
Dedicating himself 100 percent to music, Roa is constantly in the studio refining his sound. His brand of reggaeton leans heavily into the more sensual, R&B-influenced subgenre that was pioneered by greats like Zion and which a new generation of artists such as Rauw Alejandro, Ozuna, and Feid is pushing forward.
"In a time where there's a saturation of music, I've prioritized quality over everything, spending the last seven to eight years honing my craft because I want to bring a new level to the industry."
"In a time where there's a saturation of music, I've prioritized quality over everything, spending the last seven to eight years honing my craft because I want to bring a new level to the industry," Roa tells POPSUGAR. And so far, the effort he puts into every track is evident. His first single, "Bellakeame," is a classic example of reggaeton romantico, with a heavy dembow underscoring Roa's sensual lyrics and effortless flow. His follow-up, "Jetski," on the other hand, is pure trap soul. And now with the remix, Roa finds himself in a position to cement his place as one of the rising stars in the genre.
A collaboration between Chile's breakout producer Moustache ("Chantaje") and Puerto Rican hitmaker Botlok ("AM remix" and "Impaciente"), the track features an echoey piano loop and heavy bass line that feels like it's made for cruising around the neon-lit streets of Condado or Isla Verde at 2 a.m. Newcomer Courtz kicks things off with an intro that plays off Roa's original hook and segues seamlessly into Roa's airy delivery of the chorus. Not much has changed here from the original, but not much is needed, as the chorus — simple, melodic, and catchy — is one of the song's strongest elements.
Myers leads off the verses, delivering the first few bars with his classic hoarse style before switching keys into the higher register that has characterized his more recent releases. Roa's verse from the original is essentially unchanged but is complimented nicely by the guest stars he's chosen to feature. Rounding out the single are up-and-comers Courtz and Dei V. Courtz does a great job speeding up his flow to match the brief switch in tempo that characterizes the latter half of the song — an element that wasn't rhymed over in the original but here serves as a nice change of pace — before slowing things back down. Both his and Dei V's verses showcase their ability to employ multiple flows and harmonize in interesting ways.
From a content perspective, "Jetski Remix" represents a shift from trap's hardcore, gangster-oriented roots to more sensual content. But even while showcasing a softer side of the genre, Roa still keeps things from getting too mainstream by balancing sensuality with the explicitness the genre was known for in the past. If there is one gripe, it's that each verse relies heavily on assonant rhymes, a popular trend across music today that allows for a looser rhyme structure and makes it easier to rhyme foreign words or brand names, especially in a language like Spanish.
However, "Jetski Remix" doesn't set out to be an exercise in lyricism. Instead, Roa and his companions cultivate a heavy aspirational vibe, one that takes a staple of island life — cruising through azure waters on a jet ski — and turns it into a catchy, sensual fantasy that's easy to lose yourself in. Puerto Rico seems to agree. After its initial release on Friday, "Jetski Remix" is exploding on the charts — ranking among Apple Music's top 12 and Youtube's top five songs in Puerto Rico alongside big names like Arcangel, Bad Bunny, and Anuel. On the charts as on the track itself, Roa finds himself in good company. But for the rising trapero, this is just the beginning.
"Every generation before me opened different doors to new levels. I want to be the one to unlock the ones that are left and bridge the gap," he says.