Joyce Santana creates music as a means to express himself artistically. He’s a student of life with an insatiable appetite for discipline, using the power of his creativity to catalyze growth – personally and professionally.
His 2015 debut album Luz En La Oscuridad was a personal effort that’s rooted in self-reflection. Since then, a string of singles and featured collaborations have followed, helping Joyce break ground on an international scale as he continues to broaden his sonics. And now, the Boricua MC is trying to find himself in the music, pivoting into a more melodic space with entries like “Dormir Sola.”
“I’m achieving a lot of things but I’m never satisfied,” Joyce admits to Dirty Glove Bastard. “I know who I am, I know what I bring to the table, and I know what I can give the people. I know there’s more work to be done, this is just the beginning.”
Growing up, Joyce wasn’t allowed to curse at home, but his passion for creative writing never waned, pushing his pen as a poet before he ever started rapping. It was love at first composition, using his vulnerability on paper to bring balance to the world his words have created.
As we see him today, the self-described “Romeo of Rap and Reggaeton” is warming up to the idea of existing beyond the boundaries of fame, wielding his voice as an instrument to promote change around the world: “I have the capacity to make things better” Joyce says with conviction. With a new project in the works, he’s coming into his own as an artist, building a reputation as someone that’s determined to be heard.
It’s been seven years since the release of your debut album, Luz En La Oscuridad. For you, what does it mean to still be creative?
I think being creative is the most powerful form of expression that you can use. When I’m creating, there’s no limit: it’s just me and the universe. It’s the biggest way to express yourself without using words.
Have you always been able to express yourself so freely or is that something you gradually learned overtime?
Both. I’ve always been talented but it wasn’t until I started applying discipline behind my work that I knew more was to come. Being creative is good, having a muse is good, but being disciplined is the best quality of a creative mind. It’s not about doing things when you want to, it’s about doing things when you can’t do it. People eat from what we do, so I don’t have time to be lazy. I have to do this everyday, and when I apply discipline, I can evolve.
Growing up, you weren’t allowed to use swear words at home. Artistically, what did that unlock in you?
I was the son of a single mother, and I was the only son (laughs). When I grew up, I grew up alone, and when you grow up alone, you learn different ways to express yourself. My compositions allowed me to express myself the best. It wasn’t until I started doing music professionally that I began to realize the importance of being disciplined. Ever since I started thinking like that, everything has worked out in my favor. Even if I wasn’t an artist doing music, discipline is still important – it’s a state of mind that’s needed in order to achieve anything.
With your success as a well-streamed artist, how does Joyce Santana define a hit record?
When people can identify with an artist and not just the song, that’s one sign. When it’s been a few years and people are still enjoying your music, that’s when you know it’s a hit. These days, music doesn’t last – everything is so fast. I feel like it’s too soon for me to say what is a hit and what isn’t.
Is it too soon because you’re still evolving as an artist?
I’ve always been so lyrical in my raps but now I’m singing more, exploring other types of music and not just reggaeton and trap. I’m still finding myself, but look at all the things we’ve achieved along the way. I still have a long way to go but we’re good with where we are now.
Has the pandemic affected your ability to break ground stateside and develop fans across the US?
I think the pandemic has helped me. I don’t know how it works but that’s what has happened. A lot of the growth I’ve been experiencing in my career has been a result of the discipline I developed during the pandemic. There’s opportunities in every situation, you just have to see it. In this industry, everything can change in a matter of seconds. This is the ‘be ready for anything’ industry.
Do you feel as though you’ve arrived, or are you still figuring things out along the way?
We’re making good progress. I’m achieving a lot of things but I’m never satisfied. I know who I am, I know what I bring to the table, and I know what I can give the people. I know there’s more work to be done, this is just the beginning. I’m a grown man but I’m a kid in this (industry). There’s so many things to learn.
What’s the best music industry advice you’ve received at this point in your career?
Don’t listen to anybody. Everybody has something to say, everybody thinks they know how you should move, but in reality that’s just a reflection of them in you. There’s no one true way to success. You have to live and make mistakes. If something is for you, there’s no way you won’t get it.
What was the inspiration behind A Quien Pueda Interesar ?
Women, this is music for the ladies. I’ve been releasing a lot of music for the streets, for the parties, and these three songs are so special because they are different experiences. They’re inspired and dedicated to women.
It sounds like you’re a ladies man, like the romeo of rap or something.
Yeah, I think I’m the romeo of rap and reggaeton (laughs). I’m a guy who loves hard and loves forreal.
Which song (from the project) means the most to you — and why?
Wow, that’s a hard question. My favorite song from this EP would have to be “Besties.” The other artist who’s on this song with me – Young Miko – is an artist that I’ve known for a long time, but I never knew she was a superstar. She’s just getting started but people really love her. For me, it was like – you know that Kanye song that he put Nicki Minaj on and her verse was the best part?
Yup, you’re talking about “Monster.”
I think “Besties” is my “Monster” song. That girl, she’s amazing. She’s a superstar – you’ll see that name really big in the future.
The same thing can be said about you, though. I feel like time is the only thing standing between you and superstardom.
If I’m going to be big, I want to be big, but not just for music. I want people to know me and what I can do. I have the capacity to make things better. This Joyce Santana music thing is not it for me: I will do a lot more for my country and for people around the world. Music is a tool for me and all the things that I’m going to do.