Why Justin Quiles Scrapped an Entire Rollout Plan to Record ‘Loco’

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In April, Justin Quiles traveled to the Dominican Republic to film the music video for what would become his next single, “Colorín Colorado.” But while on his trip, he met up with Chimbala, a rising star in dembow (a genre built on dancehall), who showed him something that made Quiles change his rollout plans.

“He played me the beat and the hook of ‘Loco,’ and I immediately thought it was a summer smash,” says Quiles. The two artists hustled to the studio, working with producer Bryan Peguero Reyes (B-One) to finish structuring, writing and producing the song. Five hours later, the track was finished, and they sent it to reggaetón duo Zion & Lennox (the former recorded his part in the Dominican Republic and the latter in Puerto Rico). That same week, all four artists were filming the music video in the bustling streets of the Caribbean island.

Following his instincts, Quiles paused all plans for “Colorín Colorado” and prioritized the release of “Loco” with the full support of his label, Warner Music Latina. “I told Chimbala to give me the record, because I was in a good moment of my career and I felt that great things were going to happen,” says Quiles.

As a result, “Loco,” a feel-good track that fuses soca, Afrobeats and other tropical rhythms, hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Latin Airplay chart on Aug. 28 and also entered the Global 200 and Global Excl. U.S. charts. On TikTok, a simple arm- and hip-swaying dance challenge has amassed nearly 800,000 videos. “We knew this song could enter all markets,” says Gaby Martinez, managing director at Warner Music Latina. “Once we saw it was a hit, we aligned our plans further with our global office in London to create strategies and push the track in territories like Europe.”

The song’s strategy began on the mood board stuck to Quiles’ refrigerator, where he writes the goals for each of his tracks. For “Loco,” he says the aim was always for it to become a global hit, which is why he says they avoided any curse words. “We wanted people of all ages to be able to listen to it and identify with it. This is a good-vibe record.”

This story originally appeared in the Sept. 18, 2021, issue of Billboard.

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