“We feel so blessed,” Zion (Félix Ortiz) tells Apple Music on behalf of himself and longtime musical partner Lennox (Gabriel Pizarro). “It's amazing how, after so many years, people still believe in us and people still rock with us.” Even more than that, the groundbreaking and hitmaking Puerto Rican duo trust in themselves, and what they are capable of together, after all these years. “I believe in him, he believes in me,” Zion explains as the key to their union and their success. “And the respect,” Lennox adds. “That is so important.”
And so, to mark their 20th anniversary of working and creating together, they release their fourth album El Sistema. A lot has changed in the world since their last full-length, 2016’s Motivan2, which presciently included features by soon-to-be international superstars J Balvin and Maluma. Befitting their legendary status in the genre, they handpicked artists from the next generation of leaders in Latin music, including R&B reggaetoneros Rauw Alejandro and Sech as well as Dominican stars El Alfa and Natti Natasha. Yet when it comes to choosing collaborators, it’s not about popularity, on social media or otherwise. “I have to love what I'm listening before I want to get into it,” Zion says. But their guest picks also include some who’ve been hard at work for well over a decade helping to shape the culture, namely De La Ghetto and Lenny Tavárez. Lest anyone think that the duo are at the end of their run, Lennox makes it abundantly clear that retirement simply isn’t in the cards: “We’re not ready yet.” Below, Zion & Lennox offer some additional details about some of their favorite tracks off El Sistema.
“Estrella” Lennox: “We’ve worked with Dynell a lot, The Diamond Ink. He’s got that feeling, the vibe of Zion & Lennox. It continues with the flow of [the 2018 single] ‘La Player.’ It’s a feeling, it’s a rhythm.” Zion: “It’s one of my favorite songs right now. It’s elegant, classy, with a nice beat to dance to. And that’s what Zion & Lennox is all about.”
“Entendemos” (feat. Sech) Zion: “The first song he ever did as an international artist was with us, down in Miami. We did this song called ‘Solita.’ Also we did this song—way before the pandemic. We shot the video, we did everything. Now is the time to release it, so let's do it. It's a great song. You're going to never go wrong with it.”
“Destino” (feat. De La Ghetto) Lennox: “He’s family. He has this unique voice that sounds like ‘big time.’ And this song is ‘big time’ because De La Ghetto does it so good. Every time we get together, it’s a hit.”
“Diosa” (feat. Rauw Alejandro) Zion: “I’m always looking for different sounds. A friend of mine came to me with different songs, and when I heard it, I said, ‘I need to have Rauw on that song.’ We sent everything to him and he recorded right away. It was really organic. People that have vision, visions come to reality, and that was one of them.”
“Cinturita” (feat. Darell and Lenny Tavárez) Lennox: “This track was one of the first we did with Dímelo Flow. J. Quiles and Dalex were in the studio too. Later, we decided to use it for El Sistema. We then connected with Lenny Tavárez and Darell, and we made it fresh.”