Meet Sech: First-Time Latin Grammy Nominee, Absolute Teddy Bear - Rolling Stone
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Meet Sech: First-Time Latin Grammy Nominee, Absolute Teddy Bear

With his hit “Otro Trago,” Panamanian singer Sech became the overnight darling of Spanish-language radio. Now he’s coming for the Latin Grammys

"Artists from Panama have talent," says Latin Grammy nominee Sech.

Panamanian R&B star Sech became the overnight darling of Latin radio. Now he's coming for the Latin Grammys.

Luis Marquez/Vomba

In his own quiet way, Panamanian singer-songwriter Sech is taking the Latin pop world by storm. The 25-year-old began his soft takeover in April, with his now Latin Grammy-nominated debut, Sueños, or Dreams. By deftly fusing reggaeton and R&B — or as he puts it, lending the urban genre “un flow sensual” — Sech has become one of the most sought-after vocalists in Spanish-language music. Shortly after the release of Sueños, he’s made striking cameos in songs by established superstars, like Ozuna, Maluma, and Becky G. And yet, the urbano soul star is intent on remaining humble through it all.

“I don’t like to keep the focus on me, me, me,” Sech tells Rolling Stone in Spanish. “I like working with others. As long as people enjoy what I do, that makes me happy.”

In music videos, he’s sometimes played by a teddy bear; in real life, his demeanor is about the same. Rolling Stone first meets Sech outside an unmarked warehouse in Brooklyn, as he prepares to shoot the video for his second collaboration with Ozuna, titled “Si Te Vas.” Like milk to honey, Ozuna complements Sech’s sonorous tenor with his weightless soprano. Though first intended to feature on Sueños, the one-off single “Si Te Vas” was tabled by Sech’s trusted producer and fellow countryman Dímelo Flow, who held the track until Ozuna came around to record a part.

“Baby si te vas, consigue dos/Igual no van a ser como yo,” Sech recites aloud from the chorus, which translates to: “Baby if you leave, take two/They won’t be like me anyway.”

“You can date three, four, five more guys,” he adds with a smile. “You can try to find a better one. But you won’t!”

Sech was born Carlos Isaías Morales Williams in Río Abajo, a township of Panama City, Panama. Both his parents were pastors; and like many of the world’s most memorable R&B singers, Sech developed his vocal technique as part of his local church choir. He also spent his youth covertly writing love poems, jamming out at home with his three older brothers, and unsurprisingly, reveling in the classic slow jams of Boyz II Men.

Another key staple of Sech’s musical education was El General: the Panamanian MC who helped jumpstart the popularity of reggae en español, which led to the advent of reggaeton. Much like his predecessor, Sech prides himself on being an ambassador for Panamanian music. “We are a very talented people, Panamanians,” he says. “I want to represent us well. I want more people to recognize that and work with us.”

In the years after high school, Sech dabbled in food service and construction work while producing music independently alongside his friend, Focking Rafita, under the joint name El Combo de Oro. It was after Sech self-released his 2017 song “Miss Lonely” that he was approached for a remix by Dímelo Flow — who boasts credits on songs like Dalex and Rafa Pabón’s viral reggaeton hit, “Pa Mí,” and later Sech and Darell’s summer jam, “Otro Trago.”

Following a star-studded remix featuring Ozuna, Nicky Jam, Anuel AA, and Darell, “Otro Trago” became Sech’s first diamond-certified track. “It’s the song that truly changed my life,” he says of the song, a piano-reggaeton ballad about drinking and dancing the heartbreak away. It’s also nominated for both Best Urban Song and Best Urban Fusion/Performance at this year’s Latin Grammys — there, Sech will contend with urbano heavyweight champs like Daddy Yankee, Bad Bunny and J Balvin. But with three total nods, he’s earned more than any of his more established competitors.

“It’s been a dream of mine since I was little,” he tells Rolling Stone. “Thank God, my dream came true.”

Now that he’s actualized some of his sueños, Sech is cooking up some new milestones to meet: Besides potentially winning a Latin Grammy, and recording a second LP, he muses on starting his own fashion line. “Thank God Sueños did as well as it did, but it was just an introduction,” he says. When asked about where he wants to take his music next, he responds, “I love jazz. It’s handsome and elegant. I want to try mixing jazz mix with urbano. I’m thinking Kamasi Washington, but for reggaeton — give it that flow romantico.”

“Everything changes so fast,” he adds. “Today, we’re singing reggaeton. Tomorrow, we’ll be singing in Arabic! You never know where things are gonna go, and that’s an exciting challenge.”

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