Why Boricua rapper Eladio Carrión dedicated his new LP «Sol María» to his mother

When his Bad Bunny song «Coco Chanel» was named Best Rap/Hip-Hop Song at the Latin Grammys in November, first-time winner Eladio Carrión said he wasn’t in Spain to accept the award. Instead, he was at home in Puerto Rico with his girlfriend Vianell González and their newborn twins.

«It was like I got a big gift box from God,» said Carrión, who called The Times recently from the parking lot of a pediatrician’s office in San Juan.

“So many blessings came at once: my children came on the 7th of November, my birthday on the 14th of November. Then I woke up to a phone call saying I had won a Grammy. Then I was jumping all over my apartment screaming with my girlfriend.’

Carrión speaks in a warm, earthy baritone that rumbles through his extensive Latin catalog of trap and reggaeton. A former competitive swimmer, Carrión dedicates many of his songs to NBA All-Star athletes Kemba Walker to the French world champion Kylian Mbappé, who inform his ambitious approach. In 2023, Carrión capped a prolific five-album sprint with «3MEN2 KBRN,» a bustling Spanglish trap LP with cameos from Lil Wayne, Future and 50 Cent that peaked at No. 16 on the Billboard 200.

«I don’t have material goals,» he said. «I only have one car and this is the only car I’ll ever have, you know?» What makes me happy (is) setting goals and achieving them.”

On January 19, Carrión released his sixth studio album, «Sol María:», a pulsating collection of 17 trap songs laced with elements of reggae, Afrobeats and smooth 90s R&B. The album was named after his mother, whose young visage appears front and center in the artwork. Both of his parents star in the video for «TQMQA (Te Quiero Más Que Ayer)», which he partially shot on a VHS camcorder as a child.

Carrión is also developing a sitcom with Rubicon Global Media, based on his real life as a reformed «no sabo kid». Born to a military family in Kansas City, Missouri, he lived in several states before landing in Humacao, Puerto Rico at the age of 10. He learned to rap in Spanish after seeing Wisin y Yandel perform in high school; soon after, his mother began taking him to the local market to perform. Family, he said, was the key to his success.

«I wrote these new songs thinking, ‘Oh, my mom’s going to freak out when she hears this,'» he said. “He deserves his moment too.

The Times spoke with Carrión about his new album, mastering hip-hop in Spanish and how family is the key to success. This interview has been condensed and lightly edited for clarity.

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Did you grow up thinking that such a career was possible for you?

Well, I’ve always loved to make people laugh, to entertain. In Puerto Rico there is a theme park called La Feria. In ninth grade, I pulled into a park and said, “Hey, who’s driving this? I want to sing.» The guy said, «I’ll give you five minutes.» My mom and my cousin showed up. Nobody else was there, but I sang. I wrote a song with beats on YouTube like three days before. I just wanted to be on stage! One day I want to be the first artist to do music and comedy in Choli (Coliseo de Puerto Rico José Miguel Agrelot).

Before becoming a Latin Grammy Award-winning rapper, you became popular with your Vine videos parodies of Rihanna songs. What got you into comedy in the first place?

I love being a badass. Vine was fun (until) as everyone started editing super hi-res videos with transitions. Then it was too complicated for me. I have been a huge fan of comedies since childhood. (My) two older sisters got me into Eddie Murphy and Dave Chappelle. For me Bernie Mac was the OG I also loved Chris Tucker. I actually started a little sitcom that we’re going to release.

Tell me about (your sitcom)!

My story is different from other Latino stories. When you see a Latino show on Netflix, it’s about the struggle of those coming from their homeland to the States. It was the other way around for me: I came to Puerto Rico from the States. We moved to Puerto Rico when I was 10 years old. I didn’t speak Spanish, but my dad was in the military. I was already used to moving every two years, so I would just adapt to the next place.

How did you go from being a «no sabo kid» to someone who raps in Spanish?

In my mind it was either sit down and cry and feel sorry for yourself or really try to learn the language. The key to learning a new language and becoming fluent in it is to not be afraid to speak it.

This is very comforting for our readers!

Oh, my pronouns were terrible. I would say things like “el vaca” (and) people would always correct me. I used to watch soap operas like crazy with my grandmother. There was a time when I didn’t even watch regular TV, just soap operas – I hated being that kid with the accent so much! Now it’s easy for me to rap in Spanish. I like all the puns, the metaphors. But it is much harder to find words that rhyme in Spanish than in English.

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In the States, people are constantly debating whether «hip-hop is dead.» But in Spanish it’s pretty lit!

Yeah, we’re killing it!

In your last album (“3MEN2 KBRN”), you proved yourself as a strong player in hip-hop and brought your American hip-hop heroes. How did it feel to work with them?

I thought, «If a child who doesn’t speak my language came to me with a song, what would blow my mind?» I had that 50 (Cent) song in my email for about three years before I sent it. I said, «Damn, I think Wayne’s going to be kind of impossible (to get)…» I wrote my (2022) song «Gladiador» thinking about (his 2008 song with Jay-Z), «Mr . The charioteer.» Then he got up and we did a remix! I’ve created the perfect collaborations in my head, and just watching them happen in real life reassures me that anything is possible.

On your new album «Sol María» you use more summery pop melodies and faster rhythms. We have a lot of warm, nostalgic vibes. Did you think this album had to be brighter than your previous ones?

You know how they have Kidz Bop? And do they get all the best songs and put them on a children’s (friendly) album? This is an album of songs my mom would love. She is my number 1 fan.

Is your mom a fan of trap music?

He loves my trap music. My parents call me every other day to say, “Eladio! Damn! We’re listening to this song today, how did you do this verse?” They think I’m like a musical genius. As if I were the only one in the world.

What did your parents teach you about love?

They gave me so much love as a child. I was their little mini-me. My mom was an angel but my dad was like a good bad cop type. He came with tough love… but he taught me values. I’m a dad now, so I’m going to (experience) it too.

On «Sigo Enamorau,» a track with a classic reggae sample by Marcia Aiken, you (and Yandel) sing about being un «pe-rr-o» who is also, as you put it, «mama’s boy.» Here’s a Latin math question: how do you become a perro and a mama’s boy?

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Man… Everything in life is balance, you know? I just couldn’t give my fans an entire album of romantic ballads. My fans would say, «That’s not it, boss.» Compared to other stuff that’s out right now, it’s super PG! But there’s one thing I can do, and that’s why I feel like my albums are doing so well: I read my fans.

One of the most important things about many artists hailing from Puerto Rico is their authenticity. Artists like you and Benito are constantly there in conversation with your fans.

I’d love to just be a pop star – drop a commercial album and have all my songs on the biggest playlists and radio – but my fans need some of that sauce!

We understand your sensitive side – not weak, but sensitive – in the song «Luchas Mentales», which deals with mental health issues. You wrote these beautiful lines: “Yo no soy de papel/ El agua de la lluvia ayuda a crecer.” Can you talk about writing that song?

It’s a hard line! I was excited when I wrote it. God gave me the gift of music to help people when they are going through things. People need space for that, because when real things aren’t being talked about, they’re replacing it with fake things. Getting it off my chest is nice, personally—I’ve been through it, I know people who’ve been through it—but music like this helps me communicate with my fans without actually meeting them. My mom even helps if she listens to songs like «Guerrero» or «Gladiador» every morning before her doctor’s appointment.

As you become more and more famous, how do you keep it real at the end of the day?

I have a really great family and I have a really good team. They keep me sane. And I just keep doing the same thing I always do. I get my groceries at Walmart, you can see me on a paddle board. Being successful and just like having nowhere to go? That’s not fun at all. Before, I didn’t like doing promo because I was afraid of getting famous. But when I go out, people are not on me. They let me live a normal life because I do live a normal life. I feel like this is the perfect amount of glory. He puts the food on the table.

#Boricua #rapper #Eladio #Carrión #dedicated #Sol #María #mother

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