Latin Artist on the Rise: How a Life-Changing Experience Sparked Boza’s Viral Career

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Boza credits his parents and late grandmothers for instilling his love for music. His biggest inspirations? Michael Jackson, Drake, reggae and countless renowned Panamanian artists, including Kafu Banton.

At 16 years old, he began exploring his passion, making a name for himself in his native Panama as an upcoming rap star. He built himself from the ground up with his longtime producer Faster (real name: Irving Manuel Quintero Valdez).

He recalls that the first time he went viral was in 2018 with his dance-infused reggaeton track “Lollipop.” “The whole country wanted to hear that song,” he tells Billboard.

But before becoming a local sensation, Boza’s past decisions landed him in prison at the age of 17 for weapon possession. He was locked up for almost a year, expressing that with lots of faith and patience, he had time to reflect on his future.

“Time stopped. I wrote like 600 songs,” he says. “When I came out [of prison], several of my songs began to get played. I kept working hard and always had a clear goal. When I decided to change my flow completely, that’s when I went viral.”

He defines his sound as “peculiar,” with Panama’s plena as the base of every beat and his emotions as the canvas of every lyric.

“I depend a lot on my mood and vibes,” he elaborates. “In my catalog, there’s a moment for everything. I express what I feel and that’s where I click with my fans.”

In 2019, the newcomer signed with Sony Music Central America, after meeting his manager and award-winning producer, composer and arranger Alberto Gaitan. “It was the best opportunity ever presented to me,” he says. “This was the key moment in my career to show what I was capable of.”

His breakthrough hit came in the midst of the global pandemic with “Hecha Pa’ Mi,” an infectious and edgy dancehall track that went viral on TikTok and entered Billboard’s Hot Latin Songs, Global and Global Excl. U.S. charts in 2020.

The song marked a before and after in Boza’s career.

“It’s the result of all the work that we’ve been doing. All the faith that I’ve had,” he says of the track. “Since then, my career, my expectations, and my goals have grown.”

His biggest flex? Being a Panamanian artist.

“We’re evolving and getting noticed. Sech did his labor to make a name [for Panama] in the industry. My role is to make sure it stays firm,” he expresses. “Taking my flag with me wherever I go is like taking the entire country, and that makes me feel proud.”

Learn more about this week’s Billboard Latin Artist on the Rise below:

Full Name: Humberto Ceballos Boza

Age: 23

Recommended Song: “En La Luna”

Major Accomplishment: “The whole world vibing with my music, not just in Panama. A lot of people don’t even understand my language and they connect with my music. That was my biggest goal. I’m learning every day, making connections, creating new music and I feel good because that’s the objective. I know there’s a long road ahead but the most important thing is that I keep grounded.”

In addition to entering the Billboard charts for the first time, Boza won new artist of the year at the 2021 Premios Heat.

What’s Next: “I’ll soon release a bundle of five songs which will culminate with my sophomore studio album Bucle. It will be 11 songs in total. I also have various collaborations that will drop outside of the album. My team and I are also working hard to organize shows and get out on the road.”

 
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