“Rockstar” found a home on the charts quickly following its release back in September. The track, featuring 21 Savage, is celebrating its 13th week on Billboard’s Hot 100, where it first stole Cardi B’s number one seat for her track Bodak Yellow in October. Three months later, Post Malone announces the Latin remix of “rockstar”, sans Savage. The remix, released on Republic Records, features Puerto-Rican chart toppers Nicky Jam and Ozuna, where they shake up the track with their “braggadocious” approach, as A&R Consultant Cris Novo calls it. Novo, a Peru-born Latina, helmed this project after recognizing an opportunity to unite her two passions, Latin and urban music.
Novo’s warranted pride in this collaboration runs deeper than just working top names. “…it’s cool to see that it’s a Latina female out in the world doing these things because you don’t see..this is a very male-driven, dominated industry and the department of A&R is very male-driven. So to see a female Latina in the forefront of this, I feel that says a lot.
Novo opens up on what sparked the project and the significance behind the track.
The Knockturnal: Tell me about you and what you do.
Cris Novo: When it comes to this industry it’s so hard to put a label on things because it’s kinda like Jack of All Trades in essence. Let’s just say, and A&R Consultant.
The Knockturnal: How did this project come about?
Cris Novo: This project came about really interestingly. Me and my partner were at a club and clearly, our favorite song is”rockstar”, and we noticed that they’re not playing it. So I go up the DJ and I’m like, “Hey, I know you guys hate requests but you please play “rockstar”?”. He plays “rockstar” and clearly, the crowd goes wild. They start dancing and everyone’s vibing to it and loving it, and mind you we were in a Spanish club. So we were like, “Alright great. How can we get this into Spanish clubs? How can we get this bumping everywhere?” And we were like, “Let’s do a Spanish remake”, and that’s how the idea was born.
The Knockturnal: Is that a common thought for you? How to make things bigger or take a twist on things like that?
Cris Novo: For that part, yes and no. Obviously, the objective is to fuse. I’m Spanish, I’m Latina. I was born in Peru, raised in the states, and I came here when I was six years old. I had to learn the language, had to get adjusted to the customs, and my first language is Spanish. I grew up falling in love with R&B, Hip-Hop, with all sorts of genres that I found on my own because clearly, my parents are Spanish. I grew up listening to Juan Gabriel and Juan Luis Guerra All of this arrives from my father. My father was a manager, he used to produce shows, he used to manage artists. He owned a nightclub, he has own company so as a little girl, I grew up around music and grew up around concerts. It was very much embedded in my blood. My mom always says, “You’re just like your father”. My older sister is a lawyer and my little sister completely different, but I followed in the footsteps of my dad. I just can’t see myself doing anything other than music. So when you say, “Oh, is this how ideas come about?”, no. More than anything, my vision has always always always been to fuse the Latin and the Hip-Hop, because why not? That’s how I grew up. Why can’t someone listen to all Spanish music, but also enjoy urban music, Hip-Hop, R&B and everything else? My Spanish is perfect. My English became perfect through the years. So I’m kinda like a chameleon. I understand bridging the gap between both the Latin and the urban world, so it’s always been a dream of mine.
The Knockturnal: Why do you think it was significant to remix a Latin version of “rockstar”? Was it because of your background?
Cris Novo: I want to say a lot had to do, with this particular song, was because of wanting to hear it in Latin clubs and seeing a need to expose this everywhere.
The Knockturnal: With the Latin remix, it seems a little more like a battle between Nicky Jam and Ozuna, is that their doing or did you have any kind of influence on that?
Cris Novo: No, not at all. It’s not really a battle. They’re, in there own right, kind of stating. Ozuna and Nicky Jam are megastars in their own right, they’re the number one Latin artist out there. It only made sense to put him with the number one urban artist out there, which is Post Malone. In their lyrics, they’re not battling each other, I want to say they’re being braggadocious, about what they’ve accomplished, about what they’ve done, and how they can do things, not against each other. Just like saying, “Yo, check the numbers. I’m number one.” And Nicky’s like, “Yeah I can get a million dollars in jewelry if I wanted to and pay cash because I’ve earned those rights.” It’s not so much against each other, it’s more like them stating their merits.
The Knockturnal: What kind of feedback have you gotten? Has this had the result that you wanted? Is this playing more in Latin clubs?
Cris Novo: Yeah, this has gotten great feedback. Some people are saying that they like it better than the original with 21 Savage. They’re saying Nicky really did his thing, in the sense that you’re seeing a whole new side of Nicky. He is just coming out with some flows that are amazing that no one has seen yet. This is a preview of what’s to come from Nicky, and this is a different side of Ozuna too from his typical trap-hardcore. So everyone’s pretty impressed pf the combination of the artist, and how they all came together, and how seamless it flows.
The Knockturnal: Something I’ve been noticing a little more, you’ve seen KPop enter the American mainstream a little more. Do you think Latin music can do that, and do you think this is a step towards that?
Cris Novo: I’ve known about K-Pop for many years. I took PSY to Sabado Gigante before Sabado Gigante closed down when he did Gangnam Style, and the reaction was actually huge. They welcome him, and him, in turn, welcomed the Latin market. They were like, “Wow, this is amazing”. I think it could be a step if it’s done tastefully, like anything yes.