In 2020, Mora and Bad Bunny worked on a song that the young artist forgot about. Three years later, the superstar called him to let him know the track, now known as “HIBIKI,” would make it on his album. Mora felt thankful that that song was chosen out of the thousands in the catalog that he’s recorded and shared with Benito over the years. It was a continuation of a partnership they started on 2020’s YHLQMDLG that kicked off a long-standing friendship between the two.
Mora is at the second of his three sold out shows in San Juan, Puerto Rico when he walks into the green room and excitedly belts in Spanish “I never use my English… let’s do this!”
It’s the highlight stop of the 27-year-old’s worldwide tour Estela. As he sings some of his most popular songs like the sad and reflective breakup anthem “Donde Se Aprender A Querer” and the Nadie Sabe Lo Que Va a Pasar Mañana standout “HIBIKI,” the Puerto Rican rapper is confident onstage despite being only a few years into his career. It’s his first time performing in the Coliseo José Miguel Agrelot, a.k.a. El Choli, and the crowd in attendance—a young group with a median age of 16—has palpable excitement, running around with their friends and crowding the stage in areas that they didn’t pay for.
Since 2020, the San Juan-born singer-songwriter has released three albums that have been filled with hit songs featuring an array of artists from the genre such as Feid, Sech, Eladio Carrion, and others. And, in addition to “HIBIKI,” Mora has also racked up two other hit songs with global popstar Bad Bunny: the slow jam reggaeton “Una Vez” and the standalone popular single “Volando,” which also features Panamanian artist Sech. Now, this tour stop is a homecoming and showcase of who he is as a standalone artist and what's up next for the star hopeful who is receiving support with appearances from legends like Arcangel, up-and-coming artist Paopao, and Spanish artist on the rise Quevedo.
We sat down with Mora backstage at El Choli to speak about how he polished his creative process through the years, who else he’s excited for in the space, and what he learned from his tour runs and friendship with superstar Bad Bunny.
When did you first feel pulled to music?
I was making music unconsciously since I was a kid because I went to school at a Montessori, where the priority classes are art, music, and physical education. I then skipped classes in college at around 19 or 20 years old, I started working with my cousin who was studying music production.
Who inspired you? You’ve mentioned Don Omar—what about him and others who you drew inspiration from do you want to emulate?
There were a lot... Don Omar, W&Y, Arcangel. I was a psycho fan of music, analyzing everything in each song. Justin Beiber as well, not necessarily his music but him as an artist.
When did you first connect with Bad Bunny?
A couple years ago, in 2019. His producer La Pacienca was recording with Eladio [Carrion] and I didn't know Bad Bunny yet because he was with Hear This Music. When Benito left Hear This Music, La Pacienca came back into the picture. One day I was with [him] and Benito pulled up to the studio out of the blue. BB’s manager Noah called me a couple months later to go to Miami for a month because Benito was going to make a new album and wanted me to help with it... that was YHLQMDLG. I worked on “Solia”, “La Dificil”, and “Un Vez,” which features myself. We made a good connection creatively out of that experience, and for me, I just see him as a normal person.
Was he part of your discovery/evolution process? How would you credit him for who Mora is today?
I learned a lot from him… not just in the music aspect but as an artist. I toured with him two times and I think that was the most inspirational part of observing him. Going from 300-person shows to 1,000-person venues I didn’t have the confidence in my performance, I’m not a person that likes to be the focus because it gives me anxiety. Seeing him and the confidence he has, managing his time, dealing with certain situations during his performance; I learned so much from being around him.
What were the most impactful things you learned from Benito early on when working on YHLQMDLG?
Making that album for me, I think it was the top three moments in my career, people started listening to me.
How did the making of “HIBIKI” come about?
It was a song I made three years ago. Making the video for the song “512” with Jhayco, I was in my RV waiting for a call and I was listening to some beats that were sent to me and I recorded the chorus on my cell phone. And I don’t know, he always loved that song but he would tell me “It’s not the time, it’s not the time” and I forgot about that song. And then like one week before the album was dropping he told me, “we’re gonna drop this song called “HIBIKI.” I was like bro, we have like thousands of songs but he insisted “no, this is it and now is the time.” He made his part, I had my part done, he added his final part, and it came out.
You have three songs with Beno so far, working closely with him I’m sure you have way more songs yet to release. What more can we expect beyond “HIBIKI”?
We have a couple more but I don’t know, I’m always down to make music with him obviously but he’s a ghost. We talk a lot like weekly, I send him my music and he’s the one who helps me with the tracklist and he’s the person I go to when I need some serious advice. I don’t rely on what other people say to me because I cannot hear comments to people who are not in my position. I have to go to people that tell me the truth, even if it’s [hard to hear sometimes]. That person is him.
Thoughts on the genre right now?
It’s not only just reggaeton, artists here are now making electronic, afrobeats, dancehall, etc. In the past, I feel like it was only reggaeton, and now [it's more].
Who are you excited about, besides yourself?
I have a few friends in this industry like Jhayco, he’s doing very well right now. That’s my bro, friends I call in the industry are Benito and him, as well as Quevedo from Spain. Quevedo is a good guy and he deserves it, he’s making good music.
What do you want to accomplish from your work?
I just want to make music and for people to like my music. All the extras like the shows and other things I don’t care about. As long as people like my music I’m going to be happy.
What’s the best advice you've gotten?
I’m a very impulsive person, when I want something I’m gonna get it the good way or the bad way. Having patience, people coming to me and reminding me to have some patience and let things come to you. I like to be in control of everything because I don’t want anything to go wrong. When we go to the next level there’s more people in the crew and I have to rely on more people; it’sthere are impossible to control everything. When I have to wait for someone to do something that I can do, it drives me crazy. Over the years I’ve been able to be aware of that thing and be able to control what’s in my power and I have to have confidence in my people.