Yashua, a singer with a misty-eyed falsetto and a polished moonwalk, is only 20, but he says he has already experienced every possible shade of romantic torment.
“I’ve dated girls older than me; I’ve dated girls younger than me,” he explains earnestly. “And it wouldn’t be like, we date for three months. No: Some of these girls I’ve dated for eight months, a year, two years, three years. I have a lot of experience with girls and with heartbreak.”
Yashua catalogs all of this on his debut EP 777, out Friday. He ticks off the various scenarios that have spurred his songwriting: “We have tracks like ‘Pena,’ which means ‘shame,’ where I’m heartbroken and ashamed that she has another boyfriend; we have songs like ‘Silencio,’ where the relationship is better in silence; we have songs like ‘Pa Las Babies,’ talking to girls in a very positive way,” Yashua says. “Si Tu No Me Llamas” concerns an ex from the school of “girls who want to play with you, they don’t want to respond to your messages.”
If Yashua’s topics are consistent, his sound stays varied. “Pena,” an R&B cut, is agonizing and crestfallen yet slyly propulsive. “Silencio,” Yashua’s most popular streaming record, is playlist-ready reggaeton co-written by the well-known hit-maker Justin Quiles. While 777 mostly collects songs that Yashua has dribbled out in the last two years — it’s a musical resume of sorts — the new tracks also demonstrate the singer’s wide-ranging tastes. The urgent four-to-the-floor kick drum and swelling pianos in “Go Baby” suggest house music, and “Esa Parte” hints at potential afrobeats fusions.
Yashua hasn’t yet had his breakout moment. The upper reaches of the Latin charts are dominated by a small cohort of big names who continuously hop on each other’s tracks in a never-ending round-robin: J Balvin is on five of the top twenty songs at Latin radio this week, as are Ozuna and Daddy Yankee; Bad Bunny is on four different hits; Nicky Jam and Anuel AA are on three apiece. That system is great if you’re in the club, and it has produced plenty of invigorating hits. On the other hand, it doesn’t leave a lot of space for new talent to gain exposure to a wide audience.
That concentration at the top belies the wealth of talent beneath. “Pena” is one of the strongest R&B songs to be released in the last 18 months, regardless of language, and Yashua’s arsenal of dance moves sets him apart from his peers in a streaming-centric world where performance is often a secondary consideration.
On top of that, Yashua is already doing well with the most crucial segment of the listening population: young women. “They’re all up in my DMs,” the singer says happily.