Jhay Cortez catapulted into our mass consciousness with “Dakiti,” the collaboration with Bad Bunny that last year became the first (and so far only) Latin music hit to simultaneously top both the Billboard Global 200 and Billboard Global Excl. U.S. charts.
Even prior to that breakout hit, Cortez was already a force to be reckoned with. Signed to Universal Music Latin, he’d been building his cred steadily, opening for J Balvin’s Vibras Tour in 2018. That, in turn, led to Balvin (and then Bad Bunny) signing on for the remix of Cortez’s 2019 single “No Me Conoce” — which of course led to that “Dakiti” collab.
Now, Cortez is intent on riding the wave with his new Timelezz, out September 3 and featuring 17 tracks that run a very wide gamut of sounds — from hardcore reggaetón to dance to house to very introspective material, featuring solo-only tracks and only five collabs: with Anuel AA, Arcangel, Myke Towers, Skrillex, Kendo Kaponi and Buscabulla.
“This album has everything that excites me and everything that allowed me to grow,” Cortez told Billboard during a listening session in the studio. “It highlights the music and experiences that made me the artist I am today, for better or for worse.”
Known for writing daily manifestations on a little yellow notepad, Cortez, at 27 years old, is acutely aware of industry, trends, popular culture and his place in them, dropping names and references through many of his tracks (“Not doing so would be a waste!” he laughs).
Coming on the heels of such major global hits, Timelezz is ambitious in its scope, and lays the groundwork for Cortez’s next steps — coinciding with the launch of a limited tour, which includes three dates at Coliseo de Puerto Rico in October.
Below, Cortez walks us through five surprising tracks from Timelezz.
The album’s opening track may indeed be a dilemma to listeners, featuring Cortez singing in almost improvisatory fashion over a series of chord sequences with no beats. In keeping with the personal notes of this album, “It’s the story of the mother of my child,” says Cortez of the lyrics of love lost to misunderstanding and jealousy.
“Ley Seca” (feat. Anuel AA)
“Anuel and I are from the same town in Carolina,” laughs Cortez. “This is a global track, and it’s a shout out to women.” The medium-tempo, stylized reggaetón track is almost a new take on Anuel’s hit “Ella quiere beber” — with different lyrics, but the same sentiment (about a girl who finally wants to have fun on her terms), as well as the same melodic structure and rhythm.
Cortez’s proclivity for dance music is in evidence in the immediately catchy “Tokyo,” a purely dance track with no reggaetón beat, but a decided reggaetón lyrical aesthetic. As far as the Tokyo reference, “It’s simply the feeling the music gave me, like it was taking me there,” says Cortez. “It’s like Dakiti [which is a bar and club in Puerto Rico] . I never went there. And I’ve never been to Tokyo either.”
This homage to Don Omar, directly inspired by Omar’s “Cuéntale,” has an electronic and tropical vibe, punctuated in the middle by a reference to Joe Arroyo’s “La Noche” (Arroyo, in fact, has songwriting credit).
“He’s my favorite artist,” says Cortez about Don Omar. “His album The Last Don is the album that motivated me to become an artist. I was so inspired by the complete artist he was: He could sing ballads, salsa, rap. He’s the kind of artist I wanted to be.”
Even the “La Noche” reference harks back to Don Omar. “Since I’m a fan, I saw his shows, and I know he liked to sing [‘La Noche’] in his live shows.”
“Eternamente” (with Buscabulla)
The finale of Timelezz is a “collaboration” with synth pop duo Buscabulla, in a track that Cortez helped write but doesn’t perform in. The ethereal, atmospheric sound is a fitting finale for an album that serves as a map of Cortez’s life. “They’re my favorite band,” says Cortez. “I’m their fan, and they’re also fans of mine.”