Manuel Turizo is proving that his success isn't limited to one genre. After scoring multiple reggaeton hits like the winsome "Una Lady Como Tú" and the dreamy "Vaina Loca" with Ozuna, the Colombian singer's biggest global smash is an endearing bachata ballad. "La Bachata" is part of his new album 2000, on which he embraces the R&B, house, and merengue music grew up with. Once his breakthrough song peaked at No. 6 on Billboard's Global 200 chart last October, Turizo had cemented his place as an all-around Latin pop star.
"I feel very happy!" Turizo tells MTV News in Spanish over Zoom. "I feel like my career is just getting started. I still have a ways to go, but I feel happy that I'm doing what I love."
At 23, Turizo is quickly becoming one of Colombia's leading artists. Born in the coastal city of Montería, his varied influences today might be traced back to his early childhood listenings to the bachata group Aventura, salsa music legend Rubén Blades, and reggaeton icons Wisin y Yandel, as well as stateside superstars Justin Bieber and Rihanna. However, Turizo wasn't the only one in his family to dream about making it in music — so did his older brother, Julián. Their mother, a musician herself, had allowed the siblings to move to Medellín, a larger city where Colombia’s reggaeton scene was taking off thanks to J Balvin, Maluma, and Karol G. Julián has since become part of Turizo’s core team.
"It's incredible to work with him," Turizo says. "Before going through this experience together and making a living off of it, we would spend our free time sharing music with each other when we were younger. We understand each other well."
Turizo co-wrote many of his biggest tracks with Julián, who also plays the ukulele on most of them. The tropical instrument punctuated the gentle reggaeton beats in Turizo's first hit, 2016's "Una Lady Como Tú." Turizo recalls, "There was something special about that song. I didn't have a clear musical identity yet. I just made distinct songs with different things I liked to do.” He first released the track independently, which caught the attention of his future record label La Industria Inc, who quickly signed him. From there, the breezy love song went on to amass over 1.6 billion views on YouTube. “That turned into the first memorable song of my career,” he says.
For his debut album, 2019's ADN, and the follow-up Dopamina, Turizo mostly stayed in the reggaeton lane while racking up more hits in the genre. He earned another billion views on YouTube with the alluring "Vaina Loca" alongside Ozuna. It also became his first song to climb the Billboard Hot 100 chart. In 2021, Turizo received a co-sign from one of Colombia's top artists, Maluma. He featured on Turizo’s soaring tune "Amor En Coma." Turizo looked to Maluma, whose success has transcended the reggaeton genre, as an example.
"Seeing his career has been a lesson for me," Turizo says. "He started out very young as well, and he is reaping the fruits of his hard work and discipline. He's going after his dreams and accomplishing them."
Last year, Turizo made an unexpected sonic detour when he released "La Bachata." He put a pop spin on the titular genre from the Dominican Republic, characterized by shuffling percussion moving to the sound of the güira and requinto guitar. With his deep sultry voice, he sang about trying to move on from a relationship that still had a hold on him. "I've always liked bachata music," Turizo says. "We sought out the right song to make bachata music in the style of Manuel Turizo. The lyrics are from the heart." The track went on to become the greatest smash of his career to date with over 935 million streams on Spotify. He also notched his second Hot 100 entry when it peaked at No. 67 on the chart.
"La Bachata" found an unexpected fan in Coldplay's frontman Chris Martin. When the British band's tour visited Bogotá last fall, Martin invited Turizo to perform the song during their set. "Bienvenido a nuestro amigo [welcome our friend] Manuel," Martin said in Spanish. With Martin on the piano, the arena echoed the lyrics back to Turizo as he sang while wrapped in a Colombian flag. "When things like that are happening, you're not thinking so much about it," Turizo says. "You're living in the moment." Turizo also hung out with the band after the concert.
"Chris is an easygoing person," Turizo recalls. "He has a very pure energy. I admire him. It's no secret that to be at the height of fame, a majority of people get consumed by negative energies. He has a very pleasant essence."
After conquering the world with bachata and reggaeton music, Turizo is going all in on exploring new sounds in 2000. He revisits the merengue electrónico of the early aughts, which blended the mambo rhythm with elements of house music, and that can still be heard bumping during Latinx family functions. Turizo takes the Dominican genre to another level with house music producer Marshmello, who adds his rave-ready electronica to the mix. On the experience behind their "El Merengue" collaboration, Turizo exclaims, "Brutal!" — Colombian slang for “awesome.”
"We had great chemistry," he adds. "I'm not a merengue artist but I love merengue music. Even though Anglo music is very different from Latin music, we wanted to do something new for his audience and for mine. We achieved that by making a song that's become very big in my repertoire."
As in other recent tracks, Turizo brings on more heartbreak while pushing Latin music to new places. In "No Te Sientes Igual," he gets into an R&B groove while singing about an indifferent lover. With the soulful "Vacío," he laments the price of fame backed by hip-hop beats and a full choir. The rock-infused trap behind the emotional “Despecho” melts into Mexican ranchera music. There's still reggaeton in the mix with the sexy "Éxtasis" alongside Argentine singer María Becerra. "I don't like to be boxed into anything," Turizo says. "It was very important for me personally to express who I am [and] my musical personality with this album. I hope people enjoy the album as much as I did making it."
Turizo is currently in the midst of his 2000 World Tour, most recently performing during carnival celebrations across Bolivia to massive crowds of over 30,000 people. After the ambitious trek visits countries in Latin America and Europe, it will touch down in the United States toward the end of the year. Turizo also promises more new music on the way, including a highly anticipated collaboration with Colombian pop icon Shakira. As his star continues to rise, Turizo is simply enjoying the ride.
"There's still so much I want to do," he says. "I want to keep making music. I want to keep connecting with people. I want to keep creating memorable songs for my fans. Each day, I want to continue growing. That's what I hope for."
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