1. “99 Problems,” Jay Z, 2003
I really could identify with the lyrics. I feel like at one point in my life I was part of a minority, and he’s kind of narrating a situation where there’s racism. I really love the record, but I also love that there’s a message behind the lyrics.
2. “Frio, Frio,” Juan Luis Guerra, 1992
I was a kid when I first this – about 18, 19 years old – and I was living with my mother in the Bronx. She enjoyed the record, but not as much as I did. I guess she learned how to love it because I played it so many times.
3. “Home,” Michael Bublé, 2005
I love this record because I can relate to it. I know what it is to be out entertaining millions and yet wanting to be home because you miss your loved ones.
4. “Per el Amor de Una Mujer,” Julio Iglesias, 1974
He’s one of my favorite artists, a big pioneer of Latin music. And I just love that record and the message behind it, which is basically saying that when you’re in love with a woman, you give it all and you don’t care are about anything. I’ve been in love quite a few times in my life so I can definitely relate to the lyrics, but I’ve been listening to them since I was seven or eight years old.
5. “Best I Ever Had,” Drake, 2009
This was the first time that I heard a rapper that could actually sing, yet made it sound very cool. Most rappers were very hardcore – if you listen to their lyrics, it was just basically about violence or money, and singing wasn’t common. At that point, I was creating new sounds in bachata, but a collaboration didn’t cross my mind. When I was producing Formula Vol. 2, I knew I needed to come hard with the features and do something I hadn’t done with Aventura. Collaborating with Drake was definitely one of those big steps that helped bachata go to the next level.
6. “U Got It Bad,” Usher, 2001
Usher is so innovative – he’s a great performer, a great entertainer. I was working with Rico Love, who produced quite a few records for Usher, and I was just like mentioning, kind of as a joke, how I would love to collaborate with Usher but do a bachata. Rico was like, “If the record is hot, he’ll definitely get on it.” And it was exactly his prediction.
7. “Renegade,” Jay Z feat. Eminem, 2001
I love Jay Z and I love Eminem and this was the first record they made together, so I was really excited about that. It was huge for hip-hop fans – even if you were more a fan of Jay or vice versa, they just did their own thing. As a lyricist I really appreciated what they were saying.
8. “Halo,” Beyoncé, 2008
To hear how she’s able to begin the record singing in a low tone, then raise her voice… It was like, “This girl is just on another level.”
9. “Yesterday,” the Beatles, 1965
When I was young, I loved “Yesterday” mainly because of the melody. Later on, throughout the years, I kind of realized the meaning of the lyrics, but at that age I was just appreciating the beautiful melody.
10. “Y Hubo Alguien,” Marc Anthony, 1997
I’ve always been a huge fan of Mark. This particular record is a very unique theme for a salsa: It’s basically him saying that she didn’t value his love and someone else came along. I feel honored to say today that he’s a mentor and a friend. He makes me laugh in a way that not to many do. And any time I have doubts or a big decision to make in this industry, I always ask him what he thinks.