by Lucas Villa
Lunay’s blossoming music career has already racked up accomplishments most artists can only dream of. In under two years, the Puerto Rican heartthrob has amassed over 1.8 billion views on YouTube and collaborated with all the heavy-hitters in reggaeton music, including pioneer Daddy Yankee. And the self-proclaimed El Niño, or “kid,” of the genre is only getting started.
“I refer to myself as El Niño because I am a kid that’s curious and naughty,” Lunay says. “I work with the drive and desire I’ve had since I was a kid.”
Reggaeton’s latest rising star is very much a product of Generation Z. Born Jefnier Osorio Moreno in Corozal, Puerto Rico, he got his start through social media. While still in high school, the freestyles Lunay uploaded online caught the attention of Puerto Rican hit makers Chris Jeday and Gaby Music, who signed him to their Star Island label. In early 2019, Lunay generated buzz with his single “Soltera.” The buzz reached Daddy Yankee and Puerto Rican superstar Bad Bunny, who jumped on the remix.
“I’m most inspired by Daddy Yankee,” Lunay says of the OG who set reggaeton ablaze with “Gasolina” in 2004. “Thanks to God I had the opportunity to sing with him onstage and share the ‘Soltera’ remix with him and Bad Bunny. They believed in me. From that moment, things started to take off.”Like in hip-hop, reggaeton music has an unfortunate history of demeaning women. In Latino culture, that toxic mindset is called machismo. Bad Bunny has pushed back on the antiquated notion with songs that push back on domestic violence and empower women. Lunay has been on the same wavelength from the very start, with “Soltera” focusing on an independent woman who lives her best life in the club.
“Empowering women is something I always try to do with my music,” Lunay says. “We have to stop the mistreatment of women. I know that I have impressionable fans who need to hear these kinds of messages. All the women were singing ‘Soltera’ in the club. You don’t need a man to shine.”
Lunay knows the ladies love him, so he continues to keep them satisfied with his music. In “La Cama,” he offers breaking the bed as a pick-up line and “Sin Ropa” is a twinkling ode to making love. “Those are things that people relate to,” he says with a grin on his face. “With ‘La Cama,’ that’s what people say to each other in the club.” The song was included on Lunay’s debut album “Épico,” which lived up to its title, reaching as high as No. 2 on the Billboard Latin charts. Along with Daddy Yankee and Bad Bunny, reggaeton stars like Wisin y Yandel, Myke Towers, Ozuna and Anuel AA cosigned Lunay’s career and featured on the LP.
“‘Épico’ for me was the start of my evolution that I’ll never forget,” Lunay says. “That’s something my fans are going to never forget. All those artists are like my brothers.”
Before his 21st birthday in October, Lunay decided to mark where he’s at in his life with his second album, “El Niño.” He dropped the surprise release in May. To reflect his growth since “Épico,” the lyrics are more mature and the reggaeton beats are more aggressive. However, he’s still a flirt in the lead single “Le Gusta Que La Vean,” an anthem for women who love to be in the spotlight. In the music video, Lunay is a Ken doll with the box reading: “Try Me.”
“I wanted to leave behind a legacy before I turned 21,” Lunay says. “To leave behind the legacy of this chapter of who I was and the things that I lived in Puerto Rico and from traveling the world. All those vibes were the muse for this album that I put out for my fans.”
“El Niño” is a proudly Puerto Rican album. Reggaeton music is rooted in Puerto Rico and so is perreo, the twerking dance that originated in the marquesina garage parties when the genre was underground and criminalized in the ’90s. So the form of reggaeton that’s reminiscent of those hot and sweaty nights of the marquesina parties is often referred to as perreo. Lunay has plenty of perreo moments with “Party DB” and “La Mini.” Both are beasts of reggaeton bangers that could blow out the speakers.
“‘Party DB’ is one of the hardest songs on the album,” Lunay says. “It has perreo that represents the culture of Puerto Rico. That’s where I first broke through. That was my dream to represent my flag. I know when I sing that song live that everyone is going to be winding to it.”
Lunay is also super tatted. His newest tattoo on top of his left hand is the face of a baby with a Martian. The baby represents his El Niño era while the Martian is a nod to what he affectionately calls his producers Chris Jeday and Gaby Music. On his neck reads the word “Épico” in honor of his first LP.
“My whole story is tattooed on me,” Lunay says. “There are so many chapters that I’ve lived on my body. I don’t fear the ink.”
Fans can expect a world tour from Lunay in support of the “El Niño” album soon. Outside of music, Lunay’s recently gotten into the fashion game, curating a collection for Pull&Bear. He also reveals that he’s going to be appearing in a movie in the not-too-distant future. Lunay is becoming a brand before turning 21.
“I’m achieving things that I dreamed of as a kid, like making movies and singing,” Lunay says. “I know that I’m an example for a lot of my fans and I’m a motivation for them. I want to inspire them to have courage to go for it no matter what anyone tells you.”