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Taken together, they established Rivera has a hot young talent and set the stage for his smash third album, 1992's Cuenta Conmigo, which hit the top spot of Billboard's Tropical/Salsa chart (and remained there for the better part of the year), scored four hit singles, and charted in the Top 20 in the magazine's Top Latin Albums the following year, all on its way to becoming one of the best-selling salsa albums of all time. It went multi-platinum and received airplay throughout the Caribbean and the United States. It resulted in the first of the Rivera's Grammy nominations.
Though he gradually evolved from singing strictly salsa and toward a more nuanced approach, adding boleros and tropical pop ballads to his repertoire, Rivera's success continued. Both 1995's Magia and 1996's Fresco hit the top spot on the Tropical albums chart and went platinum. Released in 1997, Ya No Soy el Nino Aquel made a turn toward hard, jazzy salsa again, and scored in both the Latin and Tropical albums charts. De Otra Manera followed in 1998 and found the restless, cagey singer making another left turn, recording two Mexican-style rancheras along with tropical pop. After a break from the studio and massive touring, Rivera took a well-deserved rest. The label supplemented his catalog with hits sets during the recording lull.
At the turn of the century, he returned with the adventurous Para Siempre in 2000, his most diverse collection to date that featured plena, boleros, and pop; it was his final album for Sony. His 2002 album, Vuela Muy Alto, was produced in Italy, and featured (mostly) ballads. It is regarded highly among his fans as a brave recording, and one that showcased his continued viability as an ambitious artist and expanded his fan base throughout Latin America. It also proved to be Rivera's most successful release in the United States. His 2003 offering, Canto a Mi Idolo... Frankie Ruiz, was a return to his hard salsa roots, and earned the singer a Grammy nomination -- even though it proved controversial to Ruiz fans. Meanwhile, Rivera's touring was incessant, playing to packed houses across the Americas.
In 2005 the singer played himself in Mi Destino Eres Tu, a hit Univision telenovela. In 2007, Rivera once more offered a unique tribute on the EMI-issued Caribe Gardel. The album was a radical Afro-Caribbean/salsa reworking of tangos by the Argentinian master Carlos Gardel. El Amor Existe, another collection of ballads, was issued in 2011, followed by Jerry Christmas in 2012. Two albums, Evolucion and Frente a Frente, followed in 2015. ~ Thom Jurek