By Rosy Cordero
November 18, 2020 at 09:00 AM EST
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Rauw Alejandro was born on the island of Puerto Rico just as the underground urban genre reggaeton burst onto the music scene in the early '90s.

Although too young to know it at the time, his exposure to the unique blend of dancehall, reggae, hip-hop, and Latin America's bomba y plena would set him on a course that culminated with the release of his debut album Afrodisíaco and his first nomination for a Latin Grammy Award under the Best New Artist category.

Alejandro is taking it all in stride, he tells EW exclusively, and he's already working on his sophomore follow-up that he promises will be even bigger than his first. He may only be 27, but he challenges anyone to doubt how far his strong worth ethic and determination can take him.

“The road to the album’s release was long and challenging but it was all worth it," Alejandro says. "I’m grateful and have enjoyed every step of my journey, both the successes and the setbacks because they forced me to grow and evolve as an artist and a person. The release of Afrodisíaco didn't signal a break for me, it's only the beginning. I’ve already started creating my follow-up."

Credit: Sony Music

Working on the Sony Latin release was a dream come true for Alejandro, not only because it's his official entry into a wider arena but also because he could collaborate with many of his heroes. Growing up, he was a huge fan of Wisin & Yandel, and Zion & Lennox. All four are featured on his album.

"I remember myself as a kid vividly, listening to them and dreaming that I could reach those heights too," he says. "I am humbled to have been able to create magic with them as colleagues and now being able to call them friends.

“I also worked with Arcangel and Randy Nota Loca on the song 'Soy Una Gargola,' a remake of a classic Puerto Rican track released 14 years ago by them. They picked me themselves to remake it for a whole new generation and I was honored to do it. I also counted on the support of J Balvin, Sech, and Myke Towers, all of whom are powerhouses. Our music community is like a family, we support each other. Their success is my success.”

On Thursday, Alejandro will also perform live on the Latin Grammy stage alongside Ivy Queen, Victor Manuelle, Ricardo Montaner, and Jesus Navarro from Reik in a tribute to the legendary Héctor LaVoe.

And speaking of Ivy Queen, a pioneer of the reggaeton movement, Alejandro let slip they have something special coming down the pipeline.

"Ivy and I are collaborating on a song for her new album," he says with hesitation. "I'm not sure I'm allowed to even say this but it's definitely another one of those moments that I have to pinch myself to believe it."

No matter what happens on Latin Grammy night, Alejandro remains steadfast in his promise to constantly grow and evolve as an artist and as a person.

“The fact that my first Latin Grammy nomination came out before my first studio album was even released sets the bar really high for future releases, but I never shy away from a challenge," he says. "I have so many stories that I want to tell, all while representing my beautiful island Puerto Rico and the Latino community on a global stage. I want to make my community proud."

He adds, "I’m always working on my sound and exploring what music is out there because I love to color outside the lines. Yes, I love reggaeton but you’ll also hear me sing R&B, dancehall, throw in some ‘80s vibes, and even some alternative. My goal is to be a versatile artist, one who finds inspiration from everywhere. It’s also fun when fans and critics don’t know what I’ll come out with next. It keeps them on their toes!"

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