Jenni Rivera‘s new album Misión Cumplida has been a long time coming. In fact, the five children of the Mexican-American icon spoke to Billboard about its making last September during Latin Music Week in Miami. There — Chiquis, Jacqie, Mike, Jenicka, and Johnny — talked at length for the very first time about how the album captures their mother’s true legacy. The posthumous album, released today (June 30), is a banda album through and through — just how La Diva de la Banda would have wanted it to be. The 16-track set, which included previously unreleased songs, was produced by Banda MS’ Pavel Ocampo (producer, songwriter and clarinetist) and Sergio Lizárraga (CEO and founder).
“My mom was very picky with her music, the arrangements,” said Johnny, the youngest of the five who has been super involved in the production of the album after finding unreleased songs on a hard drive. “What my mom loved was la banda sinaloense and Sergio is a master at that, so them together, it fit like a glove. More than anything, we wanted to have the consistency of the sound across her music and we wanted to make sure Jenni’s songs sound like before she left us.”
Jenni’s five children have been working on putting the album together since Jacqie Rivera took over as head of the Jenni Rivera estate in January 2022. After discovering original recordings of unreleased music, they decided as a family that the songs they had found would see the light of day.
“It’s definitely been healing,” Jacquie said back in September. “To be able to do this with my siblings, to be a representation of her…I think she’d feel proud and, in return, we also feel proud to be able to complete this for her. I love to see Johnny on the creative side, selecting the name and the order of the album, the arrangements. It’s beautiful to see him grow into his own.”
Jenni — at the pinnacle of her career — tragically died in 2012 at 43 years old. The most successful woman in regional Mexican on the Billboard charts — she has a total of 19 entries on Top Latin Albums, 12 of which reached the top 10 and seven of which topped the chart. She has earned a total of 12 entries on the Billboard 200 and has 14 top 10 hits on the Regional Mexican Airplay tally.
Given her career, coming into the project wasn’t an easy decision, Ocampo tells Billboard. “Sergio and I talked about the responsibility of doing an album for someone so important to Mexican music. The challenge here was for Jenni to sound like Jenni with the material they gave, which included recordings where she sang a cappella and not professionally-sounding; you hear background noise, people talking. We had to clean all that up,” he says. “Musically speaking, it was made how she worked, recording everything with her banda, those are small details that were part of her style and essence. I’m very satisfied with the results and I think Jenni’s kids are, too. They put their heart into this project, their mom’s legacy is being very well taken care of.”
“Pedacito de Mí” in particular — an interlude on the album — is heart-wrenching. You hear Jenni’s raw, passionate vocals singing over a guitar line something she had written for her kids. “Mami, I see you struggle, I see you cry alone. Pedacito de mí (little piece of me), I love you so much and I’ll love you till the very end … You’re my blood, I’m your mother, I’m here,” she sings.
“I used to have this feeling a few years ago, like anxiety, that everything would run out one day because she’s not here anymore,” Johnny said. “So when you find something new it becomes all the more special.”
While the album was set to drop last year, Jenicka, one of the youngest siblings, added that Misión Cumplida comes at the perfect time. “It may feel a little late, but we’ve been healing on our own. It was supposed to come out two years ago, then a year ago and now that we’re in charge, it’s here. This is us, this is what we have to offer.”
Additional reporting by Tere Aguilera.