One of reggaeton’s most prolific artists, the Pina Records-affiliated Nicky Jam has collaborated over the years with a long list of performers, including superstars such as Daddy Yankee and RKM & Ken-Y, and he has released plenty of solo material as well, including popular albums such as Vida Escante (2004) and The Black Carpet (2007).
Born Nick Rivera Caminero on March 17, 1981 in Boston, Massachusetts, Jam moved with his family to Barrio Obrero, Puerto Rico at age ten. His father is Puerto Rican and his mother is Dominican. Like many of his generation, Jam initially got into the reggaeton scene during the ’90s and made a name for himself on the mixtape circuit. Most notably, he can be heard on some of the seminal mixtapes helmed by DJ Playero around the turn of the century. Early solo albums such as Haciendo Escante (2001), featuring fellow DJ Playero protégé Daddy Yankee on the title track, established him as a rising star amid the reggaeton scene, but it wasn’t until Vida Escante (2004) that he broke through to a mainstream audience, particularly once the album was re-released with bonus material in 2005. His follow-up album, The Black Carpet (2007), proved similarly popular, spawning his biggest hit to date, “Gas Pela,” featuring RKM.
Despite Jam’s success, he felt he could do more, and decided to move to Colombia in 2010. It proved to be just the career rejuvenation he needed, resulting in a parade of underground hits including “Tu Primera Vez,” “Curiosidad,” and “Voy a Beber.” By 2014 he was charting consistently again, first with the single “Travesuras” and then in early 2015 with “Si Tu No Estas.” Both songs appeared on Greatest Hits, Vol. 1. In the spring of 2015, his duet with Enrique Iglesias on “El Perdon” became his first single to hit number one on the Latin charts, and crossed over to the pop charts. After winning accolades at the 2015 Latin American Music Awards and Latin Grammy Awards, as well as the 2016 Lo Nuestro Awards, Jam worked on his first studio album since 2007. Fénix appeared on Sony Music in 2017. The album hit the Top 30 of the Billboard 200, Jam’s first appearance on the chart. The single “X,” featuring J Balvin, appeared in 2018. ~ Jason Birchmeier