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Jiggy Drama: Talk Nerdy to Me
11/12/11 - exclusive interview by Dante


Colombian rapper Jiggy Drama is easily the breakout star of Urban Latin music in 2011, but he's hardly a newbie to the game.  He earned his stripes pushing mixtapes and demos in the late 90's before making Colombian radio in 2000.  But it wasn't until the release of his hit song "La Fuga" that he gained widespread appeal throughout the Hispanic world.


Jiggy took time out between shows to speak with LatinRapper about his new album "Nerdside" and making upbeat music in this exclusive interview. You're in New York right now, are you on tour?

I actually came here for a promotional tour.  Tomorrow we have a performance with MTV.  That's the only show that we're going to do.  For interviews and to let people know what Jiggy's about....  My English is not that good (laughs)


That actually brings me to my next question.  You have tracks on Nerside that are in good English, did you learn it in Colombia?


I never took English courses or classes.  I learned English listening to Hip Hop music and watching movies.  I never took an English class in my life.


If someone didn't know better, they'd think you were from New York.


(laughs) Nah, I just try to do my best.  I'm a Latin rapper, most of my music is in Spanish.


How would you define your style of music?


I call it Alternative Urban music.  It's not too underground to be Hip Hop, it's not too commercial to be Reggaeton.  It's a mix of both.  It also includes a lot of typical Colombian instruments.  That flavor, the Cumbia flavor.  It also has the Reggae flavor from my island, because I'm from San Andres Island.   It's a little Caribbean Island.  We speak Creole, we listen to a lot of Reggae music, and Soca and Dancehall music.  So you can call it Caribbean Hip Hop music.


You have one track on Nerdside that's flat out old-school Reggae.


I'm Not a Perfect Man.


Did you sing the hook on that?


Nah.  The hook on that is Jacky Styles, he's an artist from my island.  The whole song is in Creole.  Creole is like the Caribbean English that we speak on my island.  It's similar to the Jamaican English.


Your father's last name doesn't seem like a traditional Spanish one.  Do you have family from elsewhere? 


My dad's name is the same name that I have, we're both named Heartan Lever.  This island was discovered by the English people.  Most of the names on the island are Gordon, Archibald, Lever.  All these English names, and we have English customs.  But actually we belong to Colombia.


You're obviously Colombian. You have a lot of Cumbia flavor on Nerdside, plus sexual innuendo in your songs.  Have you noticed that you're often compared to Residente of Calle 13?


The comparison with Calle 13, I got that before I did the Cumbia songs.  I've been doing my music way back from '96, '97.  When I first started to get on the radio on my island was in 2000, 2001, before Atrevete with Calle 13 hit the radio.  When Calle 13 came out, everybody on my island was like, "you sound familiar, you both sound similar."


Nah.  We are lyricists, we're not like rappers.  We get more focused on the lyrics of the songs.  We go straight to the point.  Maybe I think that's why I get a lot of comparisons with Calle 13.  But it sounds different, they sound more political, I sound more fresh, more partying.  He actually went more to the political view, I think that's the difference.


Your songs are all varied.  But when I look at the Youtube video for La Fuga, I notice people mentioning Calle 13.


People who never listened to my music before, they be like "We heard Calle 13 before we heard you, so you copied from Calle 13."  Most of the people don't know that I've been doing music way back before Calle 13 hit the streets with Atrevete.


I didn't hit the radio way back in the day, just two years ago.  But on my island, people used to listen to my music since 2000.  So when people on my island hear people saying "he copied from Calle 13", they get upset, they get pissed off.  They're like, we've been listening to his music way back before Calle 13.  It's cool, I respect Calle 13 a lot.  I think Residente is the best lyricist we have in Latin Hip Hop right now. But Calle 13 is Calle 13, Jiggy Drama is Jiggy Drama.


Not counting all of your other videos on Youtube, but La Fuga alone has over 15 million views.  Did you expect it to blow up that fast?


Actually nah.  When I do music, I do it just for fun.  I want people to have fun with it, to put a smile on their face.  To put humor and comedy into my music.  I think it's cool that everybody was listening to the music.  Some people get the wrong idea of the song.  They were like, "This is too heavy, we can't play this on the radio. You can't listen to this"  It called attention, you know.  "I want to know what everyone's talking about La Fuga, what's wrong with the song."  So maybe that's why I get a lot of hits on Youtube.


It's a little sexually expressive.


It's wordplay.  You can listen to the song and be cool.  Technically the song doesn't say any bad words.  I just play with the words and have fun with it.


One thing that stands out about Jiggy Drama's image is the Nerdside thing, the sweater vests. What influenced that style?


This started way back in high school.  I used to wear my glasses.  Not because I was a nerd, but because I was blind (laughs).  Everyone was making fun of me, I was the only one in class wearing glasses.  Everyone was like, "The nerd, the nerd, the nerd."  Everybody was making fun of me.


Most of the rappers in Colombia with the bling-bling and the hoodies.  They was like, yo, if you're making urban music, you can't dress like a nerd with big glasses.  You gotta come with the bling bling and all that.  I'm like, nah.  I'll prove to yall that it doesn't matter how you dress, it matters how you spread the message with your music. 


Okay, I'm gonna get more nerdy with the clothes, the shirt, the pants.  I'm exaggerated, now everybody's like, that's why Jiggy's different.  I look at a lot of artists like Pharrel, Common, Kanye.  They don't dress all that with the bling bling.  I get most of my influence with artists like that.


Now that Nerdside is on iTunes, are you getting booked for shows more outside of Colombia?


We're already performing in Paraguay and Ecuador.  We get a lot of people emailing us from Venezuela, Mexico, Argentina.  They be like, your music is awesome, you should come here and do a show.  But we want to get ahead in the U.S..  Try to get some... How can I say it... I don't way to say fame, because I don't like that word.


You want to build more popularity here.


I want to get recognized here, so people over here in the U.S. can get down with my music.


I know that DJ Sheky was involved with the album, did he produce all of the beats?


Not all the album.  DJ Sheky produced most of the tracks.  We have Joshua P, he's the director of my whole band, a lot of musicians that play with me.  With Culpable, we worked with a Puerto Rico producer Daddy Fernandez.  That's the only producers on my album.


You have an interesting mix of beats.  Dancehall, Cumbia, Hip Hop, R&B for the ladies. You've even got an old school Wu-Tang sample.


Wu-Tang? On Nerdside?


It's an interpolation of a Wu-Tang beat. 


On what joint?


El Cuentero.


Ah.  Actually we didn't take it from the Wu-Tang sample.  We took it from the original Soul song.


I thought it was a nod to Wu-Tang.


I'm a big Wu-Tang fan.  I'm really into old school.  But Soul music, I like to bring it back to the new style.  The music that I listen to on my iPod, I listen to a lot of Otis Redding, James Brown.  I wanna mix all of that Soul into what's happening now with Latin Music.  A lot of people maybe don't know about these Soul samples that rappers and beatmakers use in their music.


You've even got a song with an old school Boogie Woogie beat to it with the piano, you even do scat singing.


D'Generacion X.


That was a huge surprise, I don't think I've ever heard a rapper do scat sounds with his voice.


(laughs) I was trying to do... (laughs) I was just having fun with it.  I don't have this voice, I need to get my T-Pain on with auto-tune.  I'm not a singer.  I just try to do my best and have fun in the recording studio.  We were working on that song, we flipped this old 50's old school jazz style song.  I was like, okay, I'm gonna scat on it a little bit.  The people in the studio was like, your auto-tune's on, you sound cool (laughs).


These beats have old school vibes, South American influences.  Was that your idea as far as the production?


Yeah.  If you listen to my first album back in 2005, I tried to put all the music that I listen to, I try to put it on my album.  I don't want to be the kind of rapper that does all this commercial hits.  I want to put into a CD all the influence I get, all my background. 


The last song on the album is Los Anos Maravillosos.  It's pretty old school.  I wanted to tell people where I come from, what I started to listen to at the beginning of my career.  I was in the studio with Sheky and said yo, we should take this sample, yo we should do like this.  It was the perfect connection with Sheky.  I think we did a great job.  I think (laughs).


The album pushes the creative envelope, has great production, and it's not a mainstream album where half of the singles were made for radio.  It seems like most of your songs, you didn't care about radio.


That was the idea.  I couldn't do an album only for radio singles.  I just want to have fun with it. People can sit back, and just relax and have fun with it.  Not every day is Friday.  You have the party song on Friday, then the laid back song on Sunday.  That's what I'm trying to do with my album.


Is there anything else you want to mention about the album?


Nerdside is something fresh, something different in Latin Hip Hop.  Log on to and learn more about me, listen to my music and get to know me better.


Any last words for your supporters?


Thanks, and keep on supporting me.  Feel good no matter what everybody says, and be you.

Jiggy Drama official website:

Jiggy Drama on Facebook:

Jiggy Drama on Twitter:!/JiggyOficial

Jiggy Drama on Myspace:    



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