The Puerto Rican rapper, who leads nominations with nine nods for his first solo album post-Calle 13 — including album, record and song of the year — admits that he felt pressured to do "something huge and great'' after spending a decade with the most decorated act in the history of the Latin Grammys.
"I was very precise with every sound, with every word, with the videos, with the page. I learned a lot with this (project) and now I just wanna do some music and be relaxed, and that's what I'm making now,'' Residente said in a recent interview in New York, where he lives.
"It means a lot,'' he said of the nominations. "For any artist it's difficult to go by himself after working with (a group like) Calle 13, ... so in that sense it was great for me.''
"Residente,'' which came out March 31, includes 13 songs that he wrote and recorded over two years traveling around to where his ancestors hailed according to a DNA test. He started in the Russian province of Siberia, and also visited China, the Caucasus and West Africa, among other regions. He also directed a self-titled documentary on the making of the album, as well as the music videos for "Somos Anormales,'' "Guerra'' and "Desencuentro,'' the latter of which is also nominated.
"This project was something really personal,'' said the artist, born Rene Perez. "I wanted to make something huge and great for me to feel good, you know. And now that I did it, I feel that I can do really whatever I feel. ... I feel more free.''
As with the music he used to make with his brother Eduardo Cabra — Calle 13's Visitante — the album "Residente'' is so eclectic that it landed him nominations in genres that include urban, alternative and tropical music.
Asked if any of the nominated pieces had a special meaning to him, he mentioned "Hijos del Cañaveral,'' a best tropical song contender he wrote for Puerto Rico. But he also confided that the most special song for him on the album is one that he wrote for his son Milo, a piece he decided not to submit.
"I didn't want to nominate this song because is for my son; I don't know, I didn't wanna use it for that. But I think 'Milo' is one of the most special songs I have in the album,'' he said. "Is a great song and the music is super nice. ... I made it in Africa and you can feel that I'm feeling it also while I'm singing. I like that song.''
Residente is going to perform at the Latin Grammys in Las Vegas, but he didn't want to reveal what he was doing.
"I just wanna do my best and I wanna enjoy it too. For me that's the most important thing, to perform there and to bring something different to the table.''
The Latin Grammys air Thursday at 8 p.m. EST on Univision.