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Born Nick Rivera Caminero on March 17, 1981 in Boston, Massachusetts, Jam moved with his family to Barrio Obrero, Puerto Rico at age ten. His father is Puerto Rican and his mother is Dominican. Like many of his generation, Jam initially got into the reggaeton scene during the '90s and made a name for himself on the mixtape circuit. Most notably, he can be heard on some of the seminal mixtapes helmed by DJ Playero around the turn of the century. Early solo albums such as Haciendo Escante (2001), featuring fellow DJ Playero protégé Daddy Yankee on the title track, established him as a rising star in the reggaeton scene, but it wasn't until Vida Escante (2004) that he broke through to a mainstream audience, particularly once the album was re-released with bonus material in 2005. His follow-up album, The Black Carpet (2007), proved similarly popular, spawning one of his biggest hits, "Gas Pela," featuring RKM.
Despite Jam's success, he felt he could do more, and decided to move to Colombia in 2010. It proved to be just the career rejuvenation he needed, resulting in a parade of underground hits including "Tu Primera Vez," "Curiosidad," and "Voy a Beber." By 2014 he was charting consistently again, first with the single "Travesuras" and then in early 2015 with "Si Tu No Estas." Both songs appeared on Greatest Hits, Vol. 1. In the spring of 2015, his duet with Enrique Iglesias on "El Perdon" became his first single to hit number one on the Latin charts, and crossed over to the pop charts. After winning accolades at the 2015 Latin American Music Awards and Latin Grammy Awards, as well as the 2016 Lo Nuestro Awards, Jam worked on his first studio album since 2007. That effort, the multi-platinum Fénix, arrived on Sony Music in 2017. Featuring appearances by Sean Paul, J Balvin, Wisin, Daddy Yankee, Arcangel, Enrique Iglesias, and more, the album hit the Top 30 of the Billboard 200 and topped the Latin Albums chart, Jam's first appearance on the chart.
The single "X," featuring J Balvin, appeared in 2018, with a Maluma- and Ozuna-featuring remix following soon after. Jam continued to release stand-alone tracks throughout the year, including "Satisfaccion" with Bad Bunny and Arcangel, "Good Vibes" with Fuego, and "Jaleo" with Steve Aoki. At the end of the year he issued the charting "Te Robaré" (feat. Ozuna). He also appeared as a featured collaborator on various singles and album tracks including Ozuna's "Haciéndolo," Ginza's remix of J Balvin's "Bruuttal," and Loud Luxury's "Body on My," with Brando and Pitbull.
2019 held no respite for Jam as he collaborated on a slew of tracks including Shaggy's "Body Good," Alejandro Sanz's "Back in the City," and the remix of Karol G's "Mi Cama." He also issued a handful of digital singles across the Caribbean and Latin America including "Mona Lisa" (feat. Nacho), "Atrévete" (feat. Sech), and "El Favor" (with Dimelo Flow and Farruko, featuring Sech, Zion, and Lunay). He also spent time filming the movie Bad Boys for Life, starring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, and touring to generate interest for his upcoming sixth studio album Intimo. In late October, a week before the set's release, he dropped a documentary trailer titled Behind Nicky Jam’s Intimo. It gave viewers an inside look at his battle with drugs, almost losing his career, and his journey toward sobriety. Intimo was released in November 2019 and entered the Latin Albums chart at number three. A single, "Muévelo," featuring Jam and Daddy Yankee, arrived in January 2020 as part of the Bad Boys for Life soundtrack and topped the Billboard Latin Airplay chart. Later that year he released the platinum-selling single "Polvo" (featuring Myke Towers), with "Fan de Tus Fotos" (featuring Romeo Santos) arriving in 2021. ~ Jason Birchmeier & James Christopher Monger