February 21, 2024

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How Keityn Became the Go-To Songwriter For Latin’s Latest Hits

3 min read
How Keityn Became the Go-To Songwriter For Latin’s Latest Hits

Kevyn Cruz was 12 years old when he started writing songs. “My mom gave me my first guitar, and with the first three notes, I learned how to compose,” he recalls. “Little by little, I perfected that art.” Now 26, the Colombian songwriter, known as Keityn, is behind some of the most recent Latin hits by Shakira, Karol G, J Balvin, Maluma and Manuel Turizo, among others.


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His women’s empowerment anthems in particular have taken off, with Karol G and Nicki Minaj’s 2019 hit “Tusa” earning him his first No. 1 on the Hot Latin Songs chart and the fiery “Shakira: Bzrp Music Sessions, Vol. 53” by Bizarrap and Shakira spending five weeks at No. 1 on the same chart in 2023. “It’s what the moment allows me to create,” he says. “I don’t plan things or set expectations. I just let things flow.”

This year, Keityn was named songwriter of the year at the ASCAP Latin Music Awards, a recognition he describes as “something difficult to assimilate, but very happy and motivated with my feet on the ground to continue doing it.”

“Tusa,” Karol G & Nicki Minaj

Keityn did not plan on creating music the day this collaboration was born; in fact, he visited Karol G’s producer, Ovy on the Drums, to play video games and order chicken wings. Yet the hit-maker could not get a violin melody out of his head and asked Keityn to help him write lyrics. “I swear, in less than half an hour, we had ‘Tusa,’ from the pre-chorus to the chorus,” Keityn says. “It flowed too well. The muse was in the house that day. The song was kept in the studio for more than a year, but we knew it was a big hit.” Upon release, it made history as the first title by two women in a lead role to debut atop Hot Latin Songs since the chart’s inception in 1986.

“SHAKIRA: BZRP Music Sessions, Vol. 53,” Bizarrap & Shakira

Following his work with Shakira on “Te Felicito” and “Monotonía,” Keityn was invited to her former house in Barcelona to co-write this empowered dance-pop track, on which she cleverly disses her ex and throws a jab at his new girlfriend. Shakira had first teamed with superproducer Bizarrap, known for his ever-present cap and glasses and intimate studio sessions on YouTube. “The process of this song was a little more complex because Shakira is a woman who likes to give her full attention to each part of the song,” says Keityn. “It took many days changing and removing parts of the lyrics.” The personal, hard-hitting track debuted at No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming Shakira’s highest placement since “Beautiful Liar” with Beyoncé hit No. 3 in 2007.

“TQG,” Karol G & Shakira

Karol G and Shakira’s sultry “TQG” was a part of Karol’s historic album, Mañana Será Bonito, which became the first No. 1 all-Spanish-language album by a woman on the Billboard 200. Written in Los Angeles in January 2022, Keityn recalls, “Karol invited me because she was doing something in L.A., and she asked me if I wanted to hang out and make music with her and Ovy on the Drums for a couple of days.” He admits he had the intro of the song in his head for days before connecting with Karol, but that it didn’t really flow until he hit the studio with Ovy. Following its February release, “TQG” reached No. 1 on Hot Latin Songs, where it remained for five weeks.

This story originally appeared in the June 3, 2023, issue of Billboard.

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