Innovation comes easiest when you’re authentically you, Esty has realized. Without dedicated soul-searching, though, your own voice can be muffled, or maybe you can’t hear it at all.
The first-generation Dominican American’s newest single is the result of her commitment to a never-ending survey of the self. On “Holy Ghost $$$,” she raps, “quiero salvación, no la fama,” and it isn’t aspirational. Esty is living that line.
“I’d rather be good spiritually and be a good person and not step on people’s toes and do things the right way than have fame,” she says. “Fame is nothing. It matters more that you’re a good person and you do right by others.”
Once upon a kinda-soul-crushing time, Esty was in a situation where the music she made was too guided by trying to fit the elusive framework for fame–and celebrity was, in fact, well within reach then. But to live inauthentically? It just wasn’t viable for Esty, and her mental health was taking a hit.
A few years’ break and lots of self-work later, she returned late in 2019 with singles that were wholly unlike anything she’d released before. The sound–blending her roots both Dominican and U.S. upbringing–was exactly what she wanted.
With its heavy 808s–courtesy of producer Kieran Watts, who Esty calls a genius and her musical soulmate–patched with reggaeton subtleties and accented by a spooky, theremin-like wobble, “Holy Ghost $$$” is even further away from where she started.
And because she follows her gut, Esty’s hitting an artistic high. Formerly a mostly English-language singer, she’s incorporated more and more Spanish into her music: “To write how I talk just seemed right,” she says. Every day her father calls from the Dominican Republic. She connects with her mother in Rhode Island on the regular, too.
Roller skating has much to do with her do-you groove, too. It brings her joy. And the combination of her singular sound with clips of her ultra-smooth skating has earned her a massive following on socials.
On the late 2019 bop “Por Ahi”–which was particularly popular on TikTok and Instagram, complete with a dance challenge on skates–she calls herself “la Sailor Moon Dominicana.” Like the character and her cohorts, Esty is fueled by world-bettering ambitions that stem from the happiness she’s gained in continually finding herself. This latest track aims to emphasize that, and subsequent singles created with Watts follow suit, she says.
“It’s about fighting for what’s right and confronting people. But it also has this confidence in it too,” she says. “It’s like music that gives you confidence but it’s also talking about a deeper thing. I wanted to talk more about real issues, and about being someone for the people–someone for justice, for fairness.”