It's not every day that a Latin trap music powerhouse headlines the Nassau Coliseum — in fact, it’s never happened before. But on July 13, Puerto Rican superstar Anuel AA takes over the 14,500-seat arena with his “Real Hasta La Muerte (Real Until Death) USA Tour Part 2” show.
Anuel, born Emmanuel Gazmey Santiago, is largely regarded as a pioneer of the musical genre. His Long Island show, which is sure to feature flashy stage designs and a matching array of background dancers in sexy outfits, is the ninth in his 14-city string of performances.
It’s the 26-year-old rapper’s only stop in New York.
Coliseum officials say they were quick to realize the draw of bringing in an act like Anuel, an artist arguably at the highest point in his career with his chart-topping songs and Billboard Latin Music new artist of the year award — and believe his concert at the venue does more than showcase the growing popularity of the Latin trap music genre as a whole.
“It speaks to the larger growth of the Hispanic and Latino-American communities on Long Island,” says Nick Vaerewyck, vice president of programming for NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum. “We saw that the demand for more Latino programming was there and felt Anuel AA was a perfect fit … The response from the community has been strong and only encourages us to find more [booking] opportunities in this genre.”
The only other Hispanic singers to host solo concerts at the Coliseum have been Marc Anthony and Mexican star Luis Miguel, both household names in Latino homes for decades.
Vaerewyck declined to comment on tickets sales for the coming show, but if it's any indication — Anuel's "Real Hasta La Muerte USA Tour Part 1" included three sold-out dates at New York’s United Palace Theater late last year.
For those familiar with his music, it's not surprising.
Anuel's explicit lyrics of sex, drugs, and violence — and the catchy beats of the songs he lays on top of them — have been amassing an astronomical following since the beginning of his career in 2014. Yet, his rise has been anything but smooth. In 2017, he was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison for unlawful possession of a firearm. None of that seemed to stop his upward trajectory: From behind bars, he released new music, most notably his first hit song "Sola" (promptly followed by a remix featuring "The King of Reggaeton" Daddy Yankee, among others) sold branded merchandise and continued to rack up millions of followers on social media.
El Salvador-born Jasmin Chavez, 23, who recently moved from Hempstead to Virginia, says she and her boyfriend Ruddy Gutierrez, 25, whom she described as a "one of Anuel's biggest fans," love Anuel's music. They plan to make the five-hour drive to attend the show in Uniondale.
"He wouldn't miss it for the world. I mean I'm excited but he's really, really excited," she says of Gutierrez. "He's constantly singing the songs … He even says that he's my Anuel and I'm his Karol G."
Colombian reggaeton singer Karol G, herself a force in the Latin music world, is Anuel's very public girlfriend. The two, known for their flamboyant fashion — think sparkly joggers, multicolored Gucci sweaters and million-dollar gold chains — are almost as famous for passionately making out on stage and sharing intimate moments of their relationship via video posts with their combined 35 million Instagram followers, as they are for their musical collaborations.
Elizabeth Garcia, 17, of Brentwood, says she enjoys following both singers on Instagram and says she's been tracking his career and listening to his music for several years. She's attending the show with her mom, Francia Villatoro, who is also a fan. Garcia has seen Anuel on stage at a concert featuring multiple performers in New York City.
But, "I think it's going to be great having him here on Long Island, and it will give many more people an opportunity to see him and see his talent and experience his music."
Garcia, whose mom is Colombian and father is Puerto Rican, says she was born on the Island and grew up listening and dancing to music in Spanish.
"I'm looking forward to listening to [his song] 'Ella Quiere Beber' [She wants to drink] and dancing, you know … just having an overall good time."
WHEN|WHERE 8 p.m. Saturday, July 13, at NYCB Live's Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale
TICKETS From $63.50
WHAT IS LATIN TRAP?
Also known as trapeton or Spanish-language trap, it's a style of Latin hip hop that originated in Puerto Rico. Vocals include a mix of singing and rapping, with influences from reggaeton, rhythm and blues, and southern hip-hop.The genre started picking up steam after 2010 — but not via radio airwaves due to widespread profanity and lascivious lyrics. Instead, artists largely grew their following by sharing their uncensored work directly with fans on social media. These days, the genre's breakout stars are releasing more commercial, danceable tracks, which is widening Latin trap's reach to audiences.