A year later, we caught up with Anuel, as he was releasing what would become his first No. 1 hit on Billboard’s Hot Latin Songs chart, “China.”
Anuel’s remarkable story, from inmate to superstar in just 12 months, is the subject of episode 1 of El Factor Latino/The Latin Factor, Billboard’s new bilingual podcast covering Latin music and culture, which kicks off Friday (Aug. 23).
At the time of Anuel’s arrest, he was a promising trap artist from Puerto Rico, one of the pioneers in what was still a fledgling genre.
During the next 30 months, Latin trap surged in popularity, thanks to artists like Bad Bunny and Ozuna. Anuel remained behind bars, while outside, his music flourished.
By the time he walked out of prison, an album was ready to drop -- that very day -- and Anuel was poised for stardom.
“I feel blessed,” he told Billboard in that first, in-depth interview.
It’s a sentiment Anuel echoes this time around, in a candid interview where he opened up about his relationship with Karol G, including a surprise marriage proposal.
Anuel also opens up about his fraught interaction with social media (“I didn’t know what I was doing at the beginning; I didn’t realize the impact my words could cause”), and for the first time ever, he speaks about his time in solitary confinement.