If you’re like me, there’s a strong chance you’ve had Ozuna and Cardi B’s “La Modelo” on repeat ever since the pop dancehall track dropped late last year. The collaboration was a natural result of Cardi’s obsession with the reggaeton romántico poster boy’s hit “Tu Foto,” which the Trap Selena seemed belt every other day on Instagram in 2017.
When the track dropped in late December, some fans were pleased to find Cardi singing, since Belcalis Almanzar has largely built a career as a rapper.
never heard cardi b sing till la modelo
— alixa. (@wildspirit_alee) December 19, 2017
Have y’all heard La Modelo? I think Cardi might be able to sing
— Durag Flap (@ambernochaser) December 20, 2017
So I am shook by La Modelo?? I need Cardi B to sing more often
— tiff / rep arlington 1 & 2 (@tiffanylikeWHOA) December 21, 2017
Now, we finally have the story behind how Cardi ended up singing on the track. Ozuna told Billboard that he was working on “La Modelo” with his producer Yampi in Panama, when they realized the song needed the touch of a female vocalist. That’s when he decided to call up Cardi B.
As Ozuna tells it, Cardi was reluctant as first. She asked if it was a trap song, then told the reggaetonero, “I don’t sing; I’m a rapper and not an artist.”
But Ozuna pushed back and encouraged her to make the creative detour. “I said, ‘Nah, you’re not only a rapper. You’re an artist and I’m going to prove it to you.'” Ozuna asked her to come to the studio one day during a session in New York. “Come with us and we will show you that you are an artist, not only a rapper,” he said.
It was a savvy move on Ozuna’s part. The fact that Cardi – a U.S.-born Dominican-Trinidadian rapper who is marketed to a general audience – sang in Spanish on a track with one of the Latin music industry’s most commercially successful performers marked another step towards eroding global pop’s unnecessary language segmentations.
Watch the full video from Billboard to learn more about how the collaboration came to be.