June 16, 2024

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What’s Next for Him – Billboard

11 min read


Most people on Manuel Turizo’s team thought releasing “La Bachata” was going to be a big mistake. 

“They were scared,” says the 23-year-old Colombian artist. “They told me that I was neither a bachata singer nor Dominican and that I was going to confuse my audience. But that didn’t matter to me because I’m a singer. Music is universal and these are the influences Dominican music left in me.” 

Trusting his gut, Turizo released his first-ever bachata track in May 2022, backed by urban beats and weeping string melodies a la Aventura in the 2000s. Not only did it prove his team wrong — it became his biggest hit to date and relaunched one of the most promising careers in Latin music. 

“La Bachata” landed in August 2022 at No. 1 on Billboard’s Tropical Airplay chart, where it ruled for 14 weeks, and rose to No. 1 on the overall Latin Airplay chart last October. It also granted Turizo his only top 10 on both of Billboard’s global charts. It reached No. 6 on the Billboard Global 200, becoming the first bachata song to enter the top 10 since the chart’s inception in 2020, and No. 3 on the Global Excl. U.S. chart. Further, it earned the Colombian his highest-ranking title on the all-genre Billboard Hot 100, peaking at No. 67 in October 2022. 

The song also scored three trophies at the 2023 Billboard Latin Music Awards, including Global 200 Latin song of the year, Latin airplay song of the year and tropical song of the year. 

“Who was waiting for me to release a bachata? No one,” he says with a smile, “but it worked.” 

The attitude may seem nonchalant, but it hides a steely determination. Turizo rose to fame at 16 years old and has trusted his gut ever since. 

“I wasn’t going to let this opportunity end ni pa’l carajo! (the hell no!)” he says of achieving fame as a teen. “Everything is going to last, no matter what. I am going to do whatever it takes to make this last. If you notice, I have always focused a lot on my music, not on fame or attention. Fame is just a tool for my music and it’s a side effect of when my music works too.” 

At the same time, he reflects on what he sacrificed at a young age, including “quality time with my loved ones” and “having time for myself.” But he’s aware that it’s a decision he made, and he loves what he’s doing. 

On the heels of the success of “La Bachata,” Turizo — an artist essentially known for his feel-good urban-pop songs — has become a go-to collaborator for artists across the genre spectrum, sought out for a universal sound that’s equally appealing to Generation Z, millennials and even baby boomers, who find Turizo’s slow, shy smile and his music irresistible on the dancefloor. 

AMIRI top, pants and shoes.

Mary Beth Koeth

In the past year, Turizo has joined forces with Shakira (“Copa Vacía”), Grupo Frontera (“De Lunes a Lunes”) and Marshmello, with whom he released “El Merengue” earlier this year. The electro-merengue fusion not only earned the famed EDM DJ-producer his first No. 1 on both the Latin Airplay and Tropical Airplay charts (spending 13 weeks atop the latter) but also the crossover artist of the year honor at the 2023 Billboard Latin Music Awards and a nomination for best tropical song at the 2023 Latin Grammys.

“Manuel and I have never met. He just came to the studio and we winged it,” Marshmello recalls. “Nothing was ready. We just sat there and from the ground up made ‘El Merengue’ happen. I never thought I would top a Latin chart.”

“If he wanted to do something with a 100% Latin flavor, this is one of the most iconic genres we have in our music, and we ended up producing merengue,” Turizo adds of the rhythmic hit. “I knew it was a song that had a lot of energy, but I didn’t know how far it was going to go.”

Indeed, both “La Bachata” and “El Merengue” gained rapid virality, mainly fueled by Turizo’s dancing stunts on the internet with close friends, industry colleagues and fans at his concerts.

On social media, where he boasts over 20 million combined followers between TikTok and Instagram, Turizo flaunts his sexy, flirtatious and playful side, mostly in videos where he’s hanging out with his friends on a yacht or at the studio. But in person, he’s far more reserved, serious and focused.

He arrives at Billboard’s photoshoot at a local Miami restaurant 10 minutes before 1 p.m. on a hot summer Wednesday wearing a pale green T-shirt and black jeans. He’s in a good mood, greeting the photographer and his team with hugs and kisses. “¿Qué más? ¿Todo bien?” he asks me, but then finishes mingling and goes straight to work.

Turizo is now a Miami local. He has been residing in Florida since 2019 to further expand his music career and opportunities, but mostly because “Miami opened my mind a little to see beyond my ceiling,” he says, “to know that there are many more markets.”

Even though a newfound audience is just discovering his charm and chameleon-like talent, as well as his ability to blend many different genres into a global sound, his journey began 11 years ago in his native Montería, a small town in northern Colombia primarily known for its porro and fandango (two types of folk music).

“I was 12 when I started to feel like I really wanted to try something in music,” he says, crediting his parents and brother for instilling his love for music at an early age. “That’s where it all started, when I took vocal education classes and started writing songs not thinking that they would be possible hits, but because I liked it.”

Manuel Turizo photographed September 6, 2023 at Calle Dragones in Miami.

Ferragamo jacket, pants and shoes.

Mary Beth Koeth

As teenagers, Manuel and his older brother, Julián Turizo, began creating music in their room. The former would write songs and sing them, and the latter would help in the composition, handle backup vocals and play the ukulele. At one point, they even considered becoming a duo, but Julián had other plans.

“I knew from the very beginning, when it was simply all a dream, that Manuel sang amazingly and that I didn’t want to sing next to him,” Julián explains. “I only wanted to contribute to the project, and from then on, my brother told me: ‘Well, let’s always work together, please. Let’s do this project together,’ and that’s how we began. My first objective will always be Manuel Turizo.” To this day, Julián plays a key role in his brother’s career, overseeing the creative process of his music and audiovisuals, among other duties.

In 2016, Manuel, then 16, and Julián, then 19, released their first song, “Una Lady Como Tú.” Produced with the help of their friend and music producer Zenzei, they released the track on digital platforms without any assistance — beyond using a cousin’s credit card to pay the $9 it cost to upload the song.

They struck gold instantly.

Introducing Manuel’s deep baritone vocal range to the world, the sweet, pop-reggaetón fusion “refreshed” the music industry, says Manuel, at a time when the Latin trap movement was building momentum with the rise of artists such as Bad Bunny, Anuel AA and Bryant Myers.

“I started with a song very different from what was happening and trending at the time I released it,” he says. “A [new] guy comes out that no one has any idea who he is, singing very romantic and with a sound that no one knows if it’s pop, if it’s a ballad, if it’s reggaetón, but it was like it refreshed people’s ears. It was like a different meal.”

“Una Lady Como Tú” peaked at No. 10 on the Latin Digital Song Sales chart in September 2017, becoming Turizo’s first Billboard chart entry.

“That was the beginning, where the gates of heaven opened,” he says with a laugh. “It was what confirmed to us that we were not wrong with all those dreams. That it is worth it, it is possible, and you can achieve it.” 

Manuel Turizo photographed September 6, 2023 at Calle Dragones in Miami.

Manuel Turizo photographed September 6, 2023 at Calle Dragones in Miami. KidSuper jacket and pants.

Mary Beth Koeth

Amid the song’s success and fresh out of high school, Manuel signed his first (and to this day only) record deal with La Industria, helmed by artist manager Juan Diego Medina. He was the label’s second signee after Puerto Rican reggaetón star Nicky Jam. At the time, Turizo says he was offered all sorts of deals but none of them clicked, until Medina arrived. 

“He was very transparent from the beginning because he wasn’t like, ‘I want to sign you. I’m going to make you famous,’ ” Manuel recalls. “Rather, his proposition was, ‘You have a song that is No. 1 right now in Colombia. I believe that I can help you make that song become No. 1 in all Latin America. We’re going to try to see what happens.’ And everything has been step by step.” 

Just two months after Manuel signed with La Industria, Medina presented the project to Sony Music U.S. Latin for a distribution deal. 

Since “Una Lady Como Tú,” Manuel has remained a force on the Billboard charts, earning 26 entries on Hot Latin Songs and 30 on Latin Airplay, 12 of which hit the top 10, with seven reaching No. 1. And his three albums: ADN (2019), Dopamina (2021) and 2000 (2023), have charted high on the Top Latin Albums list. 

Manuel’s first No. 1 hit arrived in 2018 on the Tropical Airplay chart when he appeared on Piso 21’s “Déjala Que Vuelva.” That same year, he landed his first major collaboration, with Ozuna, on “Vaina Loca,” which earned Manuel his first and highest-ranking title on Hot Latin Songs at No. 4. 

“I always tell my artists that being No. 1 is not sustainable and has a price, that it’s better to be one of the best,” Medina says. “Manuel’s career has not stagnated. He has always been there. Maybe not always No. 1, but he is among the best because he is still on the charts. He is versatile. Sometimes he has that touch of rebellion when it comes to working together and expressing his ideas. And as he says, he always swims against the current. He is real. That’s his success. Success is being in your corner, defending it, defending your flag, defending your message and continuing to do so until you achieve the goal you set for yourself.” 

His collaborators, who now include Shakira, Maria Becerra, Nicky Jam, Feid, Maluma, Sebastián Yatra, Myke Towers, Rauw Alejandro and Luis Fonsi, have also been fundamental to his growth. “It’s important [to collaborate] and it’s cool, but I also feel that what you are going to offer alone is very important. You. Your proposal,” Manuel says. 

“He isn’t afraid to venture out of his comfort zone and work with artists outside of his genre,” says Maykol Sanchez, Spotify’s head of artist and label partnerships for Latin America and the U.S. Latin market, highlighting that Manuel is “one of Spotify’s biggest Latin artists, with 33.9 million monthly listeners.” 

And that’s precisely his strategy: “Nadar contra la corriente.” Swim against the current. 

“It took me time to gain my team’s confidence because for them this is also a bet; it’s a business and they don’t want to make mistakes,” Manuel says of his diverse sound. “You have to prove to them that it’s possible and that it works so that they give you their vote of confidence. As that continued to happen with several of my songs, they are finally understanding it. They know that tomorrow I will be able to come up with any crazy idea, any strange sound, and I think they won’t be afraid.” 

“He has always had a clear vision for his career and releases, which makes a difference in setting up any project,” says Micheline Medina, director of artist relations and marketing at Sony Music Latin. “He’s not only creative, passionate and innovative, but he’s also involved in every aspect of his releases and is receptive to new ideas that will help him achieve the goals we have set.” 

Manuel Turizo photographed September 6, 2023 at Florida Leather Supply in Miami.

Manuel Turizo photographed September 6, 2023 at Florida Leather Supply in Miami. MM6 Maison Margiela shirt, sweater, jacket and pants.

Mary Beth Koeth

But according to his manager, he’s still the same Manuel, working with the same desire and dedication as on day one. 

At the photoshoot, Manuel is now wearing a sparkly, colorful suit. Piercing through the camera lens are his pensive, chocolate brown eyes and seductive smirk. He takes control of the playlist to set the vibe and plays Mora’s latest studio album, Estrella

“I like what he does. He’s very talented,” he says while striking a pose. “I still like to listen to albums, and right now, I’m studying him and listening to what he did. I like to see the musical vision of my colleagues.” 

With that mentality, Turizo fearlessly entered the música mexicana realm, collaborating with Texas-based Grupo Frontera for his latest single, “De Lunes a Lunes.” 

The downtempo norteño song — which was originally meant to be a vallenato — was produced and written by Mexican hit-maker Edgar Barrera and finds the singer and sextet chanting about a heartbreak so severe and unfair that it has them drinking for a week straight. 

“When I create, I like to try different things,” Manuel explains. “I feel like each song brings something different. The numbers are nice, obviously, but there are songs that don’t necessarily give you that; instead, they help you reach another market and other people discover you. I realized that people also enjoyed it and connected with it. I realized that this was my identity — that is me and these are my true [musical] tastes. I perceived that people received my songs well when I changed genres. And for me, it’s important to continue doing it. I can’t stay in the same box… I have to continue experimenting.” 

Manuel Turizo photographed September 6, 2023 at Calle Dragones in Miami.

AMIRI top and pants.

Mary Beth Koeth

And while he keeps experimenting and diversifying his sound to maintain his global momentum, he remains focused and grounded. 

“The people around me nurture a large part of who I am,” he says. “There’s a reason I surround myself with them, because I like what they inspire in me, what they share with me and the similar personalities we may have, but what keeps me firmly on the ground is myself and what I think.” 

Manuel is on the road with his 2000 tour, produced by Cárdenas Marketing Network, which will wrap Oct. 29 in El Paso. He also hopes to release his fourth studio album, 201 (named after his apartment number in Montería), before the year ends. As expected, it will be charged with different sounds and colors, including a collaboration with Yandel called “Mamasota.” 

“201 represents all those dreams I had since I was a child, all those young desires,” Manuel says. “There is no career, no specialization that prepared me, that taught me about this industry. I learned all this on the street, on the road, and it has been a freaking cool dream. I have enjoyed my journey so much and I have lived this dream as I wanted.” 

Manuel Turizo Billboard Espanol Cover





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