Frankie J Opens His Heart
Music has to come from the soul in order for people to understand and feel it
While the heartthrob behind the hit song, Obsession (No Es Amor), says he?s never been obsessed with any particular woman, despite the song telling the tale of a broken-hearted guy over a woman who?s involved with someone else, Frankie J, who?s song climbed to No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 last month, is banking on his real heartbreak, autobiographical single, How to Deal, to blast open to the doors for Mexican-Americanos in the Hip-Hop, R&B music world.
Published on LatinoLA: June 3, 2005
The trend is skyrocketing, considering P. Diddy recently teamed up with the new king of El Reggaeton, Daddy Yankee to form a new record label, and the rise of a new radio station here in Los Angeles, El Nuevo Latino (96.3 FM) fusing hip-hop with reggaeton ? and Frankie J is proud to be a part of the history making trend.
Nevertheless, for Frankie J, who is still reaping in the sun over the chart-topping Obsession and a colab he did with Baby Bash on Suga Suga, keeping it real is the only key he credits to putting him up there, second to the latest king of the charts, 50 Cent.
On tour right now with Bash and Natalie, the Tijuana, Mexico-born Frankie J, aka, Francisco Javier Bautista, took some time out of his busy schedule to talk about his newly catapulted career, his music, breaking down stereotypes and his harsh break-up the band, A.B. Quintanilla and Los Kumbia Kings.
The song Obsession, a remake of a hit song by a bachata group, Aventura, was first presented to Frankie by music producer Happy Lopez a couple of months ago, he said. Preferring to be called Frankie, rather than Mr. J or Mr. Bautista, the new Mexican-American artist credits Lopez, along with Brian Michael Cox and Irv Gotti, for drawing the Frankie J style out of him.
His music, though, has always been his own style. The way he sees it, music has to come from the soul in order for people ?to understand and feel it,? he says.
Known abroad for writing songs from experience, (hear How to Deal), except for Obsession, Frankie says he?s big on writing from the heart, just as he feels when he listens to artists like Brian McNight, Michael Jackson and Lionel Ritchie.
Now that?s what he calls good music, he says ? and unfortunately, it?s that king of music that?s missing nowadays.
?The way I feel when I listen to The Girl is Mine (Jackson and Paul McCartney), that?s how I want people to feel when they hear my music,? he says. ?When you write from a personal experience, it just makes the song that much more significant, it?s almost like a movie, where you describe what you?re going through so that people can visualize it when they hear your song. I think there?s a lot more feeling to it, than from a song that somebody just made up. People can relate to it more.?
Recently named one of People En Espa?ol?s 50 Most Beautiful People, Frankie recently watched himself on MTV Cribs.
Aside from Obsession, and the Spanglish version for that fact, setting milestones on mainstream radio, watching himself on the Cribs show was ?amazing.?
?I was like, they want to come to my house,? says Frankie, a fan of the show. ?I love watching that show, I loved watching Usher?s crib and Shaq?s crib, but mine, they wanted to come to my house (in Houston), nah, I couldn?t believe it at first.?
It was a big feat for the Latino artist who was once told he couldn?t have any soul in him because he was ?a Mexican.? At least to him it was a big feat. He even flew to San Diego to watch the Cribs episode with his family.
Whenever he watched the show, he says, he would imagine the Cribs crew to come over to his house, but he never thought they?d want to visit this soon.
?I never really thought the song (Obsession) would hit so big,? he says. ?I just make music for the love of music. I can?s say I expected it or any song that I put out there, to be big. I?m just there for the ride, and allow people to make that judgment.?
The feeling, though, he says, is awesome.
?It?s just a beautiful thing knowing that people are out there supporting you and your music,? he says. ?People are surprised when they meet me, because they figure I?m black or Cubano or Puerto Rican, they can?t believe I?m Mexican.?
Frankie was also once told he should keep to his own kind and sing with a mariachi. Though he loves his culture, and mariachi music, and keeping to his roots is important to him, he says, he wasn?t about trying to put a lid on the soul he had in his heart. Even in Obsession, in which there is an all Spanish version and a separate all English version, the Spanglish version is the one on the charts and for Frankie, that?s a big accomplishment for himself and for Latinos everywhere.
?The fact that its become a part of mainstream radio, that?s just amazing,? he says. ?I needed to put my Latin roots into the song, just knowing that the hook is in Spanish and it hit that much, it?s great. Plus, the Spanglish version gives people a better sense of who I am ? that I?m a Latino.?
When hits like his, and say that of Daddy Yankee?s Gasonlina, get a lot of radio play on English radio stations, that?s an accomplishment for all of the Latino world, from Nina Sky to Pepe Aguilar, who hasn?t even crossed over but recently did a one-on-one interview with Big Boy on Power 106 FM.
?It?s a good feeling when you hear us [Latinos] on radio stations that wouldn?t have played us 10 years ago,? says the 26-year-old with an old-school soul. ?It?s says that people are listening to us, that our voices, not just as musicians, but as people, are being heard and seen.?
Frankie says he?s blessed to be a part of a music scene that features artists like Don Omar, Yankee and his former bandmates of four years, Los Kumbia Kings. While there were some pretty harsh legal battles between Frankie and the King?s A.B., a year later, the two have agreed to squash the past and be friends.
With four albums under his belt, a couple of hit songs, some pretty hot videos, and his personal copy of his Cribs appearance, it appears that Frankie has proven a lot of people wrong about Mexicans having some soul. He and long-time friend Bash, also of Mexican desent, both proved people wrong.
But what he did with Aventura?s Obsesion, went beyond sampling ? he made it his own.
?All I did was put a little bridge to it, added my own little taste to it. People (and women, he laughs) are assuming that it?s me in the song, but it?s not. It?s the only track on this record that I could personally say that is not a personal experience of mine, and thank God...the only thing I?ve ever been obsessed with, is my work.?