By Rosy Cordero
October 29, 2019 at 10:23 PM EDT
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Ricky Martin can’t wait to drop his untitled next album in early 2020, featuring music he says was inspired by his recent experiences in Puerto Rico, where he took part in the mass protests that led to the resignation of Gov. Ricardo Rosselló in July. Not only did getting involved politically on the island of his birth fuel Martin to use his voice to help inspire others, but he found respect and brotherhood in his countrymen Bad Bunny (born Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio) and Residente (Rene Perez).

“Puerto Rico is a very small island, but damn, we’re musical!” Martin tells EW. “It’s incredible, but we look for any excuse to make music.”

The singer, who will host the Latin Grammy Awards for the first time in November, adds, “We are releasing new music the week of the Grammys, and hopefully my album will come out in the first quarter of next year, sometime after the opening of my Movimiento tour on the 7th of February in Puerto Rico. Everything that happened in Puerto Rico really took me somewhere. Lyrically, it’s full of messages without being preachy. I just need to let the world know how I see things and how things have worked for me by following my instincts. This is what came out of me instinctively in the music that I’m presenting at this moment.”

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In Bad Bunny and Residente, Martin seems to have found kindred spirits. “I am very proud of someone like Bad Bunny and what he’s doing at the moment,” he says. “He’s an incredible lyricist and an incredible producer. He’s unapologetic, and he’s speaking the language that the people want to hear and that the younger generation understands. I’m also very proud of Rene and what he’s been doing for years. We’re all in this boat together, and the most beautiful thing about this whole thing is that we all respect each other. I have so much respect for them because this is serious business to them, and they want to make a difference. They get on stage and they say things that people need to hear. I think it’s important for every artist that has the opportunity to speak to millions or thousands of people to take advantage and make a difference.”

Martin also confirms that he’s been actively conferring with Perez about his new album. Does that mean fans can expect some urban sounds from the Latin pop superstar?

“My music is Latin pop, and when you say ‘Latin pop,’ the spectrum is so broad,” he says. “It’s inevitable to not be influenced by everything that’s happening in the industry, but always keeping your identity firm by knowing who you are. If it comes organically, if it’s visceral, well then it works. If you want to start surfing a wave simply because it’s the best wave [of the moment], that’s just not how I work. What’s most important, regardless, is to be surrounded by an amazing group of producers, people who know the world of pop, and people who know my music.”

And Martin knows what his longtime fans want, including more of his drool-worthy ballads. “You know the romanticism is always there, people expect my ballads,” he says. “And I have not one, not two, but three ballads on the album.”

Those ballads could be a reflection of where he is in his life today, 20 years after the huge success of his song “Livin’ la Vida Loca.” Martin admits he’s “in a really good place right now both professionally and personally,” and is happy to help younger artists find their way in the industry, like CNCO.

“Twenty years later, if I don’t perform ‘Livin’ la Vida Loca,’ I’m in big trouble,” the father of four says, laughing. “That was a flag that I was holding onto 20 years ago. Everytime they asked me, ‘So what do you think about this explosion all of a sudden, Latin music is it?’ And I’m like, ‘No, hold on a second. You’re wrong. Latin music has always been it.’ So I use that opportunity to mention Carlos Santana, Jose Feliciano, Celia Cruz, and Gloria Estefan, who have paved the way for all of us. Especially now that we’re seeing it happen again. It’s just beautiful to be able to be on this side and be able to give advice to young artists that maybe are a bit overwhelmed with what is happening in their careers. It’s very powerful, what’s happening right now.”

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He continues, “If you talk about Menudo and who opened the doors for us, we can go back to the Jackson 5 and even the the Beatles. There is always a generation that’s in need of artists like this, that people can relate to. At this moment it’s CNCO, and back then it was New Kids on the Block and the Backstreet Boys. And all these bands are touring again because what they did for the core fanbase was so impactful that it doesn’t matter how old you are, it’ll take you back to a special place from your life.”

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