The superproducer Tainy has been a driving force behind reggaeton’s evolution since he was a 14-year-old kid, making tracks for some of the most famous stars in the genre. Now, he’s taking his decades of expertise in the industry and teaming up with music exec Lex Borrero for a new Netflix show called La Firma, which he hopes will uncover the next big thing in Latin music.
Tainy and Borrero have experience surfacing new talent: They’re the creators behind the label and artist incubator Neon16. Through Neon16, they’ve discovered and fostered acts from across the U.S. and Latin America, including Álvaro Díaz and Dylan Fuentes. Thinking that a show could expand their reach, they began brainstorming what a competition series might look like. The winner of the competition, expected out this summer, will get signed to Neon16.
“Lex wanted to create a show that spoke to the culture, so we started thinking of all the shows we loved and all the ones that we hated in order to find the space that was missing — not only for Latin music, but music shows overall,” Tainy tells Rolling Stone. “Netflix is the biggest streamer in the world, so partnering with them was a no-brainer.” Borrero, who spent years at Roc Nation, adds that the goal was to highlight Latin culture and talent from around the world. “The combination of our iconic judges, Tainy’s expertise and versatility artistically, and our partners at Netflix and Propagate make this show the perfect platform.”
La Firma is kicking off with an online submission process, which is ongoing until March 14. Hopeful contestants can upload videos of themselves performing an original song that spotlights their potential — however, Tainy is quick to point out that they’re looking for something beyond just vocal skills or rap technique. “We want real artistry, not just talented singers or rappers,” he says.
Those enough lucky to make it onto the show will get advice from a panel of judges that includes Borrero, the Argentinean rapper/singer Nicki Nicole, recent RS cover star Rauw Alejandro, and Yandel from the famed Puerto Rican reggaeton duo Wisin Y Yandel. Tainy is going to serve as a mentor who will help the contestants as they compete day-to-day. “I’ll help steer them to bring out the best of them artistically with the judges, who are friends, so I’m excited,” he says. “This panel has experience, knowledge and an understanding of today’s music business.”
For Tainy, the show is also a chance to keep pushing for more innovations in globally popular styles like reggaeton. He says he’s always on the lookout to see what direction the sound is moving toward. “From the perspective of a producer, I feel we’ll see more experimentation sonically, which for me is what I love and gets me pumped,” he says. “The original sound will always be there, but I’m happy to see creatives and fans open to accepting new ideas, and thats what this new generation is doing these days, with no fear of what genre it is.”