It’s close to midnight in San Juan and Gaby Chuleta has just ordered a $3 chicken box from beloved Santurce eatery Sullivan’s. He’s joined by his manager Jinn and producer Dāniyyêl (Álvaro Díaz, Audri Nix), all of whom are eager to discuss their brand new mixtape — Dios Los Cría is a trippy explosion of Boricua trap from Santurce to the world.
After cultivating a loyal SoundCloud following for years and nabbing a buzzy feature on “Pinnochio,” —a stand-out track from Fuete Billete comeback album MMXX— Chuleta has been hyped as one of the island’s brightest talents to watch. And rightfully so. High octane bops like “Ganga” and “Pues No Mi Ciela” established the young rapper as a down-to-earth lyricist armed with ambition, sharp bars, and an irreverent sense of humor. In 2019, Chuleta linked up with producer Dāniyyêl for the incandescent single “Your Boyfriend’s a Jerk,” signaling a sonic pivot that blossomed into the booming kicks, psychedelic synths, and distinctly Santurce POV of Dios Los Cría.
Speaking to Remezcla in the streets of Santurce, we caught up with Gaby Chuleta to get into the sounds and visuals behind his new album Dios Los Cría, how Anuel AA and Fuete Billete revolutionized his art, and why dedicating a song to his favorite chicken spot was essential.
Tell us about yourself and what attracted you to the rap game.
Gaby Chuleta: I’m Gaby Chuleta, a rapper living hustling in the underground for a couple of years now. I grew up in a pretty religious household, so the first rapper I ever listened to was Vico C. But whenever I escaped to my aunt’s house, I listened to reggaeton records like Blin Blin and Desafío [by Luny Tunes]. I started rapping in English over boom-bap beats at 15 when I lived in the US until Anuel AA came out and I was like, “wow!” I was pretty bored with music in Spanish back then, and since I was off the island, I had no idea there was an underground scene. I’d never heard of Fuete Billete, you know? So when Anuel hit in 2016, I decided to start writing in Spanish again. When I came back to the island I linked up with kids from the scene like Jose Yellow and even went to SXSW with him. That’s how the homie Aleman at Demoniacal Records found me and asked if I wanted to open a Fuete Billete show, which was the first time I ever performed in Santurce.
You show Santurce a lot of love in your music. What’s the magic of this neighborhood?
Gaby Chuleta: I’m from Guayama and lived [in the US] for a long time. But the first time I came to Santurce was for a Dávila 666 and Fuete Billete show and fell in love with the scene immediately. It’s a very cultural place and there’s a huge community of designers, singers, and graffiti artists working together and doing cool shit. A bunch of kids out here are breaking the mold and bringing new sounds, ignoring expectations of what an artist should be, and just doing whatever they want. I feel like Alvarito Díaz, Myke Towers, and Fuete Billete were the first wave of Boricua trap, and kids like Joven Frodo, YSJ, Joven Braca, Jose Yellow, and Enyel C are ushering the new wave.
Tell us about Dios Los Cría and the jump from SoundCloud to a full-length record.
Gaby Chuleta: A lot of the stuff on SoundCloud is me playing around with los panas, but now we’re being more strategic so the music actually reaches people. We produced the album throughout the pandemic, and even though I’m not from San Juan, I feel it really sounds like the city. Dani is an excellent producer and the sound of the record is demented. That’s kind of how we named the mixtape, which comes from the saying: “Dios los cría y el diablo los junta” (God grows them and the devil joins them). It’s not regular trap shit.
Dāniyyêl: Yeah, we used to always talk about working together, but since each of us lives in our own little world, we didn’t find the right moment until the pandemic hit and everything slowed down. “Sullivan” was the first cut and we vibed hard so we kept working until we landed on eight tracks. I wanted the sound to be colorful and reach into different avenues of trap; like dark club, anthems for the streets, or for rolling in the car.
The videos for “Sullivan” and “Sensacional” are wild. What were those shoots like?
Gaby Chuleta: My new video for “Sensacional” was directed by Antonio Hernandez and Jan Rolón. It’s this super trippy idea where I play all the characters: the chef, the client, the waiter. It was a long project but I was on board from the jump, and the result is amazing. “Sullivan” was directed by CASEUNO Films, who I’d worked with before. I had to shoot my parts while I was in the US, but filming at the actual Sullivan’s would’ve been tight. That place marked a time in my life. The prices kick ass, the chicken is lit, the morcilla is fantastic, the tres leches está hijueputa… You feel me? So if your munchies are popping come to Sullivan’s.
Stream Dios Los Cría below.