Farruko talks about God and spreading a message of love : Alt.Latino Felix Contreras and Anamaria Sayre sit down with Carlos Efrén Reyes Rosado to talk about creating the character of Farruko, developing a relationship with God and spreading a message of love. This episode is in Spanish, please find an English translation of the conversation at NPR.org.

Farruko: How a religious transformation led the rapper to retire his partying persona

Farruko: How a religious transformation led the rapper to retire his partying persona

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Farruko is this week's guest on Alt.Latino. hide caption

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Farruko is this week's guest on Alt.Latino.

Felix Contreras and Anamaria Sayre sit down with Carlos Efrén Reyes Rosado to talk about creating the character of Farruko, developing a relationship with God and spreading a message of love. This interview is in Spanish, please find an English version of the conversation below.

This conversation has been edited for length and clarity and translated into English.

Anamaria Sayre: We want to ask — what should we call you? Farruko or Carlos?

Farruko: It's the same thing.

Sayre: Same to you?

Farruko: Yes, I think they are two different people, but they form a person. And we are already the fusion of the two. They are who I am today.

Sayre: Different. Like what?

Farruko: What happened is that Carlos was the one who invented Farruko. Farruko looks like Carlos, but they are the dreams of Carlos. Each one has, as I would say, different dreams. I got closer to God and I reflected on many things — the lifestyle I was leading, the music I made, the message my music carried. The purpose was in order to position myself or be the most famous or number one. I didn't realize that maybe I could do better things with my music and the message it carried. That also comes as a result of my career. It took a lot of time out of my life and my personal life was a mess. My career was going very well ... but I didn't have emotional and spiritual stability, and I didn't have that closeness to my family, to my children. When I found out how important it was to have my children close, to have my family, to have peace ... I said I'm going to start to change things in myself and to try to be a better person.

Sayre: Do you think it was something more internal or external that motivated the change in your life?

Farruko: I think it was internal. I think that people look at artists as if they were a robot or an object. When you are a public figure where you have many followers, today power is governed by how many followers we have, how much money we have, how much acceptance we have, how many likes. And people don't know that behind that there is a human being who feels, who has troubles, who has needs, who suffers, who cries, who laughs. And mostly, social media today [shows] you a perfect life where no one is poor — everyone is rich, everyone is famous, everyone wants to have likes, wants to go viral. That was what inspired me and motivated me to change.

Felix Contreras: It was an empty life.

Farruko: Yes, because when you're at the level that I am, that many people know you, it's like playing a game. Everything comes in excess — money, women, fame, parties. Then it becomes a void, because there is no reason to work anymore. And there is no such thing as a purpose because you have everything at hand and that makes you a robot, it makes you the character you created.

Contreras: How did you make the decision? Did you talk to friends, family or a priest?

Farruko: I was already working on myself. I believe that a relationship with God is something intimate that one has to do. But in my case, I said I can't keep quiet with the level of influence that I have. I started to feel guilty about the kind of content that I was carrying through my songs. I was ashamed to play a song of mine to one of my sons. I would say, "son, not that part, don't listen to it," and I'd cover his ears. Or I used to say to my mom, "look, I finished the song," and I didn't dare to play it for her. When I won an award or when I saw the song become number one, I said wow, that's cool. But to those who really matter to me, I couldn't feel free to show them what I do.

Sayre: This internal change happened in a moment [or] over time?

Farruko: I think it was a collection of moments. I had already taken a lot of hits and the time came, because one can't give anymore. I've seen many famous artists with everything, who have taken their own lives, others who have fallen into depression at their best moment. Whenever I talk about this, the character of the Joker comes to mind. The one who took his life — that he said the character took over him. It holds you and becomes a reality.

Contreras: Did you think of other artists who did the same thing?

Farruko: For example [Héctor] el Father, Julio Voltio are artists who accepted the Lord and converted their lives to Christianity. I didn't think that was the way. The first reference that one has is the understanding that God has an individual relationship with each person and that this is very intimate for you — that you don't have to change on the outside to show someone that you've changed. In my case, it's not what I want to bring, because I don't want to scare my fans. I want to bring a message of love where I inspire, where my music can be heard by my mother and my children. I got tired of projecting something I wasn't and God brought me to my original mold. And that is what I want people to know, that Farruko is not a religious figure, Farruko is not a fanatic. Rather Farruko has changed the course of his life to inspire and be a better person rather than a better artist.

Contreras: What do you say to your fans who prefer one Farruko?

Farruko: Let them go to YouTube and the video. Your art always has to change, because when you're an artist you can't do the same as everyone else. You have to attract an essence of yourself, your identity, something that no one else has. I bring a message that others don't bring. I project myself in a different way. That's what an artist does and I think that the fan has to think about that too when following their artist. When you follow an artist, it's not because he is the "it" artist, but it's because what that artist does inspires you.

Sayre: You're changing your music to reflect this opinion?

Farruko: Yes. I had to change my music. Not musically — what the rhythms, melodies, and percussions are. Not in the flow, but in the content, yes. What I have changed is the content of my songs. For example, I don't want to [use profanity] anymore, I don't want to talk about drugs, having no control. I say in a certain song, look, I lived like this, like this. I tell you right there, raw, as it is, but I don't do it anymore because I learned that this is how things are.

Contreras: Is this change a matter of religion or spirituality? And what's the difference?

Farruko: There's a big difference between religion and spirituality, because religion is dogmas, doctrine, conduct. Everyone has their point of view and I respect it. Religion separates. Religion commands you to do things. Spirituality makes you feel free. It's not a burden, it's a relationship. There are people who say "no," and I respect that. "I don't believe in God. We came from the Big Bang explosion." But when I see nature, when I see you, when I see myself, when I see my children, I say when I see my gifts, I say this is created by someone: a designer, an artist. In reality, we are a work of art. It can't come from an explosion or a monkey. And that has helped me to say, thank you, because I don't feel that I am deserving of everything that I am, of everything that I have, and for me, that is spirituality.

Sayre: Have your children seen a change in your family?

Farruko: Before, I let my career dominate and govern me. Now, it's like, is it necessary? Do I need to go? I'm not going to work all year, I want to take some time off. My family needs me, too. Then my children learned to see their dad at home. Like, dad stayed to play with me. Dad takes me to school. They are little things that make an impact on life, because I remember when my dad took me to school, for me that was the best thing. I believe that these are details that sometimes people forget about, because of the style or pace of life they lead, because we have to work to pay rent. We forget that time is worth more than money.

Contreras: Have you started writing new songs with these ideas?

Farruko: I'm preparing new songs. Including most of the songs that I sang at the Tiny Desk, since they are part of the new stage that I am bringing. They are very different things from what I did before.

Sayre: I have to believe that a change like this is going to come into music in different places, right?

Farruko: That is the mission. That's why I [liked] it when you asked me the question of religion and spirituality. Because when we talk about God, we talk about Jesus. For an artist like me, when I say it publicly or put it into my songs, [it's] like this guy is religious, he only sings for this type of audience. For me, that barrier dosen't exist. I'm an artist. I reach the masses. I can use my platform to inspire people to know love and to be better people.

Contreras: Do you know who made such a change among my generation? He was one of my favorite artists — Carlos Santana. The first of three albums were so successful. Drugs, women, all that. And for number four he changed his way of life. He accepted a spiritual life [and] he kept going like that. 50 years later, he's still on a spiritualist path. There are precedents.

Farruko: Imagine that I did not make this change and that I had kept going ... that I would not have approached spirituality. What they would have told me is "go see a psychologist, take this pill. This is going to solve your problem." What often happens to people — what happens to those people? They become addicted to those pills or they simply can't find the solution and end up taking their own lives, or hurting other people. Because not only do you hurt yourself, you hurt the people who love you, because you stop being you. When you have the tool of spirituality — which is already something that is in our programming as a human being, because we feel [and] feelings are automatically something spiritual — you realize that you need a guide who can work with your feeling. And that is achieved through peace, through reconciliation, through love, through forgiveness, through recognizing when we are wrong,

Sayre: I don't think that when you are an authentic musician, when you are a true artist, you can do whatever you want. And the people will come.

Farruko: You don't have to follow the trend. What you feel and what you feel will speak for you. We, the musicians, create feeling in our music. Many people listen to us when they are depressed. Other people listen to us to feel free, to celebrate, to sing, to dance. The responsibility that a famous artist has to make music is very great, because you have to know what you want to project. Because imagine, [I'll] give you another example: God forbid, I would have died, and my last song would have been "Pepas." Yes, they'll remember that Farruko reached number one with such a song, he had a hit. But what did you do as a human being? They're not going to say, Farruko helped the poor, Farruko inspired other people, Farruko was a good father. I learned to carry a better version of myself. Because you are as good as the last thing you have done.