Ask any younger girl in pop immediately whose songs she first sang into her hairbrush as a toddler, and on the drop of a hat, or wig, she would possibly inform you it was Britney, or Beyoncé, or Dolly, or Mariah.
As a bit of lady within the capital of the Dominican Republic, Natti Natasha’s divas of alternative had been hip-hop stars: She cites Lauryn Hill and Ivy Queen amongst her faves. Born Natalia Alexandra Gutiérrez Batista in Santiago de los Caballeros, the 32-year-old singer-songwriter desires to be that diva for one more lady on the market — and even higher, for hundreds of thousands.
“When you’re a bit of lady,” she says, “You by no means assume anybody’s gonna inform you ‘no.’ If you imagine in one thing, and also you begin enjoying the half sufficient, [you think] it’s simply magically gonna occur! Because why not?
“I don’t take note of the no’s,” she provides.
On a quick espresso break throughout New York Fashion Week in February, a day earlier than strolling in a present for the colourful Spanish label Custo Barcelona, Natasha meets Rolling Stone in a inexperienced Louis Vuitton scuba jacket. As of 2019, she’s arguably the diva she dreamed of changing into, a minimum of by one necessary metric: She is the most-watched feminine artist on YouTube, far surpassing Top 40 queens like Cardi B and Ariana Grande. Her first of many blockbusters, 2017’s “Criminal” — sung alongside reggaeton famous person Ozuna — counted over one billion YouTube views. She’s since continued to chase that momentum with extra standout collaborations, from the Bad Bunny-assisted “Amantes de Una Noche” (349 million views) to “Buena Vida” with Daddy Yankee (89 million) to the freewheeling “No Me Acuerdo” with Mexican icon Thalía (774 million).
By the top of 2018, Natasha had carved a distinct segment as música urbana‘s favourite co-star. This 12 months, she’s taking the lead along with her new album, IlumiNATTI, released final month on reggaeton legacy label Pina Records. Natasha spends the album teasing out a few of Caribbean music’s most important staples — dembow, dancehall, reggaeton — and alchemizing them into pop. “Music is so unpredictable, nevertheless it’s common,” she says. “What you do is you retain working at it after which thank God when folks truly join with you.”
While she nonetheless throws down within the Latin city circuit, IlumiNATTI reveals that Natasha is a girl untethered to its conventions. She touches upon her reggae roots with Dawn Penn-like swagger in “No Voy A Llorar.” “Quién Sabe,” sung from the point of view of a girl with a boyfriend — and a roving eye — is a lavish feast of genres. Much just like the tune’s protagonist, Natasha establishes the Dominican-grown bachata sound as her primary, however flirts with touches of Eighties synthwave, and welcomes candy nothings from a saxophone. Meanwhile, her balada romantica, “La Mejor Versión de Mí,” is devoted to a love of the self — a culminating second in a document she describes as an act of final self-possession.
“I noticed myself scuffling with being unbiased,” says Natasha of writing the album. “And being afraid to strive various things, of going into totally different genres, of going right into a studio and being [the only] lady.”
Long earlier than her star was born, she spent a number of years in a inventive limbo, grappling along with her identification as an artist. Seven years previous to IlumiNATTI, she put out a single launch beneath Don Omar’s personal label, Orfanato Music Group: a dance music EP titled All About Me. She had beforehand collaborated with the Puerto Rican reggaetonero, and with fabulous outcomes. Yet she discovered that males had been filling many of the behind-the-scenes roles — writing the songs, working the blending boards and the labels. This impressed her to step into her energy as a girl and search the camaraderie of fellow Latinas by means of collaboration. (While male hitmakers like Chris Jeday and Gaby Music helped produce IlumiNATTI, Boricua singer-songwriter Kany García and Brazilian pop ambassador Anitta contribute the one options on the album.)
“I used to be a lady who believed within the colour of my voice, and what I needed to say,” Natasha displays. “I used to be not going to hearken to any man [who would say], ‘Girls don’t promote.’ I imply, so many ladies are making it world wide! You’re gonna put that down?”
Natasha says she’s discovered supportive colleagues in male artists like Daddy Yankee and Ozuna. But she’s nonetheless annoyed by the skepticism she’s encountered relating to collaborating with different ladies in Latin pop. Take her R-rated slumber get together hit, “Sin Pijama”: A coquettish duet with Mexican-American artist Becky G, co-written with Daddy Yankee, the tune drew some criticism for singing praises of smoking blunts and being bare in every others’ firm. While critics have accused the vocalists of catering to the male gaze, Natasha, an outspoken feminist, has argued that “Sin Pijama” is a celebration of ladies’s sexual expression — which is basically unbound to that of heterosexual males. “‘Are you certain you wanna say that? Are you certain you’re not scared?’” she remembers listening to — hinting that a number of the pushback on the tune occurred earlier than its launch. “Look,” she provides. “I’m not right here as a result of I used to be secure doing issues!
“Girls are far more highly effective [today],” she continues. “We converse very freely. All ladies from all over the place world wide. It’s an honor to be the voice for ladies who are usually not scared, and who wish to have somebody to attach with.” Rest assured that someplace on the market — whether or not within the Bronx, Miami or Santiago de los Caballeros — is a gutsy little lady singing Natasha’s songs right into a hairbrush.