“We’re not in the era where legends are legends,” Nicky Jam tells Apple Music. “We are in an era where if the legends don’t work, they stop being legends.” As one of reggaetón’s most enduring artists, with a career spanning well over two decades, he’s right to be thinking about his legacy in this way coming into his seventh album, Íntimo, especially considering how many of his fellow genre pioneers fared. Yet Jam’s continued success is undeniably hard fought, having suffered extraordinary setbacks after initial wins in the 2000s. “I had ten years of being the shame of the generation,” he says. “Because of drugs and bad habits and bad decisions, being so successful at such a young age, I lost everything.” After relocating to Colombia, his subsequent reinvigoration set the stage for a monumental comeback, resulting in 2014’s “Travesuras” and the aptly titled and tremendously successful Fénix LP three years later. Since then, his hitmaking streak persisted on singles like “X” with J Balvin and “Te Robaré” with Ozuna, both of which appear here on Íntimo. Even amid party-starters like “Whine Up” with Anuel AA and righteous clapbacks like “Novia Nueva,” the Nicky Jam present on the album is mature and cognizant of his circuitous life path. Several cuts, including “Destino” and “La Toco,” idealize romance beyond lyrical tropes or clubby come-ons, favoring intimacy above all. Furthermore, he proves a magnanimous patriarch to a new generation of urbano talents bringing youthful R&B bona fides to the genre—namely Rauw Alejandro on “Quisieras” and Sech on “Atrévete.” “Every young person who writes and tells me, ‘Nicky, thanks to your story, I thought I couldn't and now I feel like I can do it,'” he says, “that is a legacy.”

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