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By Darius Baptist
Photos by 90thshooter
Styling by Darius Baptist
Grooming by Millie Morales

Rauw Alejandro has been on a nonstop train of success, and it doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon. With two successful album releases, “Afrodisiaco” and “Vice Versa,” that spawned singles like “Tattoo (Remix)” and “Todo de Ti,” the Puerto Rican crooner has danced his way into the hearts of millions. Headlining a sold-out world tour that has since been renamed “The Bra and Panties Tour,” the 29-year-old, born Raul Alejandro Ocasio Ruiz, has tunnel vision when it comes to his career—he’s intensely focused on his future and refuses to let anything blindside him. Just as he was set to release “Trap Cake Vol. 2,” the sequel to his 2019 mixtape, we caught up with the now Grammy Award-winning artist to discuss life, love, music and tattoos, of course.

It appears that 2021 was a breakout year for you. What was your biggest highlight?

Hands down, I would have to say playing at Choli in Puerto Rico.

San Juan’s Coliseo de Puerto Rico (which Puerto Ricans call the Choli), seats close to 20,000 people and isn’t easy to sell out. What did having four consecutive sold-out nights there mean to you?

The prestige of playing at the Choli is big for any Reggaeton artist. It’s a sign of proving yourself. To be able to sell out any night there shows you have the approval of the fans and you have the magic. If you don’t make it in Puerto Rico, you don’t make it anywhere.

What is your creative process when recording new music? Where would you say you draw inspiration?

Everyday life, my family, friends, and my personal experiences. I was raised by three women— my grandmother, my mom and my sister—so women have always been a huge inspiration in my songs. 

Photo by 90thshooter

Photo by 90thshooter

What can we expect with the release of “Trap Cake Vol. 2?”

Trap Cake is for my loyal fans who have followed me since SoundCloud. It’s a combination of R&B and trap music. I call it a mix of street and sweet. It’s a series I will release every year until I am finished.

In 2021, you and Spanish singer Rosalía made your relationship Instagram official. Can we expect any musical collaborations in the future?

For sure. We have discussed ideas for both of our individual projects. I’m a big fan of hers so I would definitely like to collab with her.

Who’s a dream musical collaboration for you at this time in your career?

I would love to work with Bruno Mars. He’s an amazing artist and I know we could release a No. 1 Billboard song.

Now, let’s get into what we like to discuss here at Inked—tattoos. When and where was your first tattoo?

I got my first tattoo when I was around 16. It was on my left arm near my shoulder and it was a phrase that says, “Son of God, Warrior of the Sky.” And after that I never stopped.

Photos by 90thshooter

Photos by 90thshooter

How many tattoos would you say you currently have?

As of now, I have almost 30.

Any regrets?

I got a few cover-ups (laughs). I didn’t cover them up because of the writing but more because of the art. I can be picky with my stuff. Back in the day when I didn’t have money I got what I could afford, but once I started making money I was able to upgrade the quality and art of what I chose to get done. I’m always looking for really good tattoo artists because if they can show me something that is new, I’m always open to try something different.

So far most of your ink is waist up, are you strategic with where you tattoo your body?

In the beginning, I didn’t think about it, I just would pick a spot because I never thought I’d be fully tatted. Now I realize I should have stuck with one artist and created more lasting pieces with sequence and meaning so that everything makes sense. When I did my first arm, it was a mess but it was a life lesson learned. I then collaborated with an artist for my right arm, another artist for my chest and a different artist for my neck. I try to be more strategic with my art now. I’m currently working on my stomach, so I’m planning what that will look like and which artist I will collaborate with on it.

With a sold-out tour and everything else you have on your plate, what is a day off or downtime like for you?

Playing video games, chilling at home watching Netflix, hanging with my girl or my friends as much as I can. I like motorcycles and sports so sometimes I will just jump on my bike and go for a long ride. I live a very simple life.

How did your World Tour get renamed “The Bra and Panties Tour?”

It organically happened. From the first show fans started throwing bras and panties on the stage, and at the end of each show there would be bags full of them, so we started calling it the Bra and Panties Tour.

What has most surprised you about the music industry?

Every business has its level of competition and good and bad people, and I was aware of that from the beginning so nothing has really surprised me. I try to remain the same considerate and open-minded person I was at the beginning of it all, but I will say, don’t confuse the humility with cowardliness.

Photos by 90thshooter

Photos by 90thshooter

Your circle of producers and friends are people who have either grown up with you or have been around you for a significant amount of time. How important is keeping them close to you?

That is very important to me and my feeling of security. These people have been there since before the music and the fame, so they know my heart and my feelings. I can also say that I know them as well. I know when they lie to me to try and protect me. They push me to keep going and growing. It’s a very special and pure thing to have and I am blessed for being able to have them on this ride with me.

When it comes to your fashion sense and look, you appear to be open to trying new things and taking risks. How would you describe your style?

I have no style (laughs). I like to be effortless and simple but depending on the occasion I may push the boundaries.

What would be something your fans would be surprised to know about you?

That’s a tough one because I am so open with my fans. They already know everything like my favorite color and food and other things. If I had to think of something I would say they don’t know that I grind my teeth in my sleep.

In five years where do you see yourself?

Besides music, I’d like to be involved in acting, dabbling in real estate, and other business ventures as well. But most importantly just being happy and living my life to its best.

Finish this sentence: I’m Rauw Alejandro and I am…

…the most complete artist that has no peak.