A new generation of Venezuelan artists is spreading across the globe, making the whole world turn to see them. Danny Ocean, Corina Smith, Micro TDH and Big Soto are among the most famous. Now, a new name has entered this group: Yesfran Omeba Soto López aka Jerry Di, from Caracas. He is the singer of “Mi Cuarto,” currently at number 24 on Billboard’s Hot Latin Songs chart. He also exceeds 100 million views on his YouTube channel, over 1 million video creations with his song on Tik Tok and a Gold Record certified by RIAA.
Overall, the development of the Venezuelan music scene has been hit by the severe social, political, and economic crisis that the country is currently experiencing. It’s estimated that more than 5.1 million Venezuelans have gone into exile around the world, according to OAS (Organization of American States). Many artists from the South American country were culturally isolated or had to spend more time worrying about being able to make a living in a country as difficult as Venezuela. The fact is that they couldn’t give their work their all. But lately, a shift has begun to take place.
It was a kind of phenomenon that you can’t explain.
“It all started on Tik Tok. In fact, the song blew up four months after its release,” Di tells Remezcla from Spain, his current place of residence. “I was promoting other stuff. I had other plans. And suddenly, a friend made a video, then 30,000 people made a video with that audio. When I checked, I had 60,000 views, then the next day 100,000, and so on until one million. It was a kind of phenomenon that you can’t explain.”
Prior to this, Di was a member of Calle Ciega, one of the most famous boy bands in Venezuela—a classic for the local culture, which artists like Chyno y Nacho were a part of, too. Di’s approach is one of a kind in the history of Venezuelan popular music, though. His voice and melodies are inspired by R&B sounds mixed with reggaeton, dancehall and afrobeat.
“I don’t know if I did all of this consciously, but I did fall in love with R&B and music in English in general. They were a huge influence. Almost unwittingly, I used those resources, and now they are part of my essence,” he says.
Di decided to have a better life and left his country, just as millions of Venezuelans have done in recent years. But he is well aware that he belongs to a “golden generation,” as he describes it—a generation of Venezuelan artists currently getting big global commercial success that the Venezuelan indie rock scene did not. The latter being perhaps the last genre that reached special acclaim and recognition.
I feel that the exile that we had to go through somehow threw us into the major leagues.
“I think that, for the first time, we have broken down borders. They made us break them down because Venezuela was no place to live. I fled from my country to look for a future. As I come into the rest of the world and learn about their cultures automatically, I become richer. My ideas open up a bit more [and] my music changes too,” the 29-year-old says. “If I make an effort and expose myself to other cultures and work with other artists from other parts of the globe —whether they be producers or editors—, my art changes too and my perspective broadens. I needed to create music outside of Venezuela. I feel that the exile that we had to go through somehow threw us into the major leagues.”
Di is no stranger to hits. His “Verano en París” may be one of the best Venezuelan reggaeton songs in recent years. Jerry Di even sang with Zion Y Lennox, Lyanno, and Noriel in the remix version.
He is well aware that he belongs to a ‘golden generation.’
“I left my soul within the rhythms of ‘Verano en París.’ I put everything on the table for that song. I fought for every stream… and I succeeded. My team and I put too much faith in that song, and it worked. But then ‘Mi Cuarto’ came out and two weeks later, it was even more successful. That mystery is what I find so beautiful about music: it’s some sort of magic that no one really understands,” he affirms. Di Letra, his first EP, gives us nine songs from an artist who found his distinctive features within the industry—high notes, catchy songs that feel well produced and a really great presentation card.
“I have a pretty large musical library. I hope that someday people say, ‘Jerry made unique reggaetón.’ I know it is ambitious. I know it is hard. But that’s what I truly feel about my music,” Di asserts. “I think I have enough resources within myself to achieve something like that. And if it’s not enough, then I try harder. I want to leave a legacy, a mark, something, a door opened to try and do new things.”