After opening 2018 with a Nicky Jam and 2 Chainz “Love & Hennessy” remix, A.CHAL spent the year quietly toiling away on new music. And he’s definitely not letting you enter 2019 without a little something. The singer dropped off a six-pack bundle of tracks called EXOTIGAZ today. “The EP is an appetizer because of how much detail is being put into the album,” Alejandro Chal says on a phone interview while exiting a photo shoot in New York City. “I wanted to treat you with something before the year wrapped up; that’s where it comes from.”

You can see why he was anxious to have it in your ears by January. The EP marks an evolution for the artist who released “LA DUEÑA” in November. He’s started to incorporate a lot of the música urbana sounds he heard while touring for ON GAZ. More than anything, he was compelled by that circuit to produce something that would resonate in the venues he was visiting in Miami and especially, uptown New York. “It inspired me to make something that I could hear in those clubs,” he says. EXOTIGAZ is just the teaser — expect a full-length A.CHAL album to drop sometime within the first months of 2019.

But while previous albums have strayed closer to sexy sociopath R&B stylings, the new EP shows that Chal has been studying the sounds of 2018’s Latin trap and reggaeton industry takeover. Catch EXOTIGAZ‘s “000000” (A. Chal pronounces the title “six zeros”), which Chal worked on with Marco Masís (aka seasoned reggaeton producer Tainy), a studio behemoth who got his start on no less than Luny Tunes’ Más Flow tapes, released at the dizzying height of the duo’s commercial success. With this support — Jamaican producer Rvssian also collaborated on “EXOTICA” — Chal was able to incorporate his trademark hazy vocals and ambivalent romantic lyrics into a chord structure that won’t sound out of place on the radio besides some of Bryant Myers’ and Ozuna’s feeling-est moments.

Critics might call the partial pivot to slow-beat reggaeton romántico at the close of 2018 convenient. But it’s clear that Chal’s crew is bringing a certain GAZ sensibility to the table with the release of the EP. Chal wrote all the music himself, and is proud of the steering that he did in both the studio and on the music video sets.

EXOTIGAZ was also forecasted by the release of “DÉJALO,” a song with a doomsday trap beat that will be well received by fans of breakout hit “Round Whippin.’” On “DÉJALO,” lyrics tell the story of a slightly unhinged outlaw — plus that of uncles who sell visas, mountains with no Wi-fi, foursomes, and sloppy cocaine usage. The song’s video clip was filmed in Mexico and incorporates traditional imagery with the A.CHAL afterparty aesthetic. In this case, that translates to a LED-lit horse corral populated by prancing equines, the crew ghost-riding SUVs, and a babe in a cowboy boot corset. Chal and his associates wear black and green GAZI merch (which will be available for sale online soon). Even as his sound shows new connections to new industry behemoths, Chal makes it clear that his vision will remain firmly and unmistakably his.

A.CHAL’s EXOTIGAZ EP is out now on Epic.

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