Alternative singer and rapper, Álvaro Diaz goes to great lengths to find his happy place in his new album “Felicilandia,” and shocks his fans with surprise collaborations along the way.

The Puerto Rican star caught up with mitú to dish out all the details behind the making of “Felicilandia” and collaborating with longtime friends Rauw Alejandro, Feid and Jesse Baez.

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Diaz has a knack for showcasing his lyrical ability and emotional depth in every song that he touches and it is most evident in his latest album, particularly in the opening track which sets the tone for the entire LP.

“I always try to do something interesting with my intros,” he says. “I thought about creating a magical world with this project, so it was important for me to do an intro that will transport you and take you somewhere pretty. Remember when we were kids and we’d get that nostalgia from the Disney movie intros? That’s what we aimed for.”

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“OG Black” starts off as an alternative pop track, before taking it way back to old school perreo.

A song called OG needs an OG. For this track, Diaz recruited Randy from reggaeton duo Jowell y Randy. Very much á la “Safaera,” “OG Black” transitions into early 2000s dembow heavy perreo, and who better than Randy to take over the latter part of the song?

“One of the things we wanted to do initially with the album was to not tell people ahead of time the artists featured, in a way to see how people would react when they listen to ‘OG Black’ and see how Randy comes in,” he shares. “The album has a lot of sampling and references to old school reggaeton, mucho boricueo, and Randy was the first artist ever to help me out when I started. Randy was the first to tell me ‘You got it man’, like he’ll go in interviews and talk about me and my work, so it was important for me to have him in this project.”

And when it comes to working with longtime collaborators and friends, Rauw Alejandro, Jesse Baez and Feid — Diaz is certain there’s no better three for the job.

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“Rauw is my brother,” says Diaz. “I’m so happy to see all the blessings that he’s been getting lately. We’ve worked many times in the past writing songs together and stuff, but to work with him now given the level that he’s at, it’s incredible. I’m beyond proud. I went to all of his four sold-out shows in Puerto Rico last weekend, he’s a true showman. It’s amazing to see his career boom and for us to have this song [“Problemón”] together.”

Diaz and Colombian singer Feid previously collaborated in NEON16’s “Club Dieciséis,” but this time around they joined forces for perrear y llorar anthem “Llori Pari,” which was one of the singles leading up to the album release.

“Actually, Feid also wrote ‘Close Friends’ with me,” shares Diaz. “At the end of the song, he’s the one singing the chorus, but isn’t credited on the track. We want to surprise people with that. Then the track transitions to ‘Llori Pari,’ I love adding little details like that to my projects.”

Similarly, Diaz considers Jesse Baez like family after their 2018 collaboration on “Siempre.” He shares that his song with Baez, “18+1,” is one of the songs from the album that “captures [his] essence.”

To close the album, Diaz surprises us with a touching voice note from his mom.

While there are a couple Alvarito songs in the album like “Online ;(” with Sebastián Yatra and “Babysita :3,” the record ends on a high note with the upbeat track “Para Ya!,” featuring a very special guest.

“That’s my mom singing about happiness towards the end. She sent me a voice note where she’s singing about finding happiness in love, which is basically the theme of the album,” he says.

“‘Felicilandia’ is about that journey to find happiness, and the only way to get to it is through love. The song is uptempo, but to me it’s like the epic credits at the end of a movie. Imagine you’re watching ‘Grease’ and you see them drive off into the sunset, that’s what I wanted to do with this track.”

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