Welcome to The Drop, Refinery29's new home for exclusive music video premieres. We want to shine the spotlight on women artists whose music inspires, excites, and (literally) moves us. This is where we'll champion their voices.
Consider this your official introduction to Kim Viera. Actually, you've definitely seen the Bronx native before. She became an internet celebrity after her cover of Rihanna's "Diamonds" went viral back in 2012, and has been working on her solo career ever since. Her voice has popped up in "Tribe" (on the Pitch Perfect 3 soundtrack) and on her first official track, "Gold Lining." Her next step? Oh, just a casual collaboration with Daddy Yankee. The "Gasolina" singer was blown away when he heard Viera's new track, "Como," and decided to get on board. The two artists connected over their shared Puerto Rican roots, and together created an anthem in the wake of the devastation of Hurricane Maria, the music video for which is premiering right here on Refinery29.
It's the natural disaster that inspired Viera to set the music video in Puerto Rico. She wanted to make sure the world still saw images of the island that showed its beauty and resilience. Sweeping shots of the landscape, its beaches, and its vibrant community, paired with her jubilant vocals, create a poignant message of hope almost one year after Maria.
As for Viera, it's safe to say things are off to a good start. In the coming months she hopes to release her first EP, and will be appearing as a singing voice in the upcoming Netflix series Motown Magic. Ahead, we spoke to the singer.
How did this collaboration come about?
"I did 'Como' a few years ago. Yankee heard [the song] through my management team about a year ago or so and fell in love with the record. Like, 'Yo, this song is really dope. Let me jump on this.' He really believed in it on first listen, so I feel super honored to have somebody of his stature, who I’ve looked up to for a long time, believe in me and my record."
That must have been so encouraging! Had you two ever met or worked together before?
"I had never worked with him or talked with him before, actually. I met him when we decided to do 'Como' together. I’ve always been a fan of his work since I was a kid. He’s one of the kings of Reggaeton. To actually collab with him in my journey has been a dream come true."
How did the music video come about?
"When we first wrote the song, we wrote it in the summer. It’s sounded like summer to me. It’s always represented beauty and love and romance and all those things that, to me, really scream Puerto Rico, which is where my family is from. I’m Puerto Rican and so is Yankee, and I knew that I wanted to bring it back to the island when we were doing the video.
'Como' for me was very much a victory in my journey in my life because [I wrote it} during a time when I was actually taking a break from music. I really wanted people to remember that Puerto Rico is still, even though they’ve gone through a lot, they’re strong. It’s a victory for them, they’ve come a long way. I really wanted 'Como' to be a part of that victory."
Is it important to you to represent your Puerto Rican upbringing in your music?
"Puerto Rican culture for me is definitely a huge part of who I am as an artist. I think that 'Como' is a special song in the sense that it really combines two different cultures: American culture and Puerto Rican culture, and it shows that the two worlds can coexist.
For me, that’s always been part of my journey as well. I’ve always tried to find out where I fit in. I’ve never been Puerto Rican enough or American enough in certain ways. I think that 'Como' definitely combines those two worlds seamlessly."
You mentioned the hurricane, and there's also been a really divisive political climate surrounding the response to the hurricane. Has this made making music harder for you, or are you more inspired?
"It’s definitely made me more determined. Puerto Rico, when the hurricane happened, that was devastating for all of us. Whether we lived there or not, it’s a part of your life in some way shape or form. I was crying when everything happened. I just remembered thinking to myself, 'This is home for me. This is home away from home for me. I can’t imagine my island not feeling or looking the same after this. I don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t know where that’s going to leave us.'
I realize when I would talk to my cousins, or my aunts over there, they were going through a lot, but one thing that they really did emphasize was that we all look out for each other here. If somebody’s stove works and somebody else has food but their stove doesn’t work, the person whose stove works, they let them use it to cook food for everybody in the neighborhood. That’s what’s beautiful about my culture: they’re taking care of each other and they’re still strong in spirit. They’ve bent a little, but they’re not broken.
Because of this collaboration, you'll definitely be getting some new listeners. What's something you really want them to know about you?
"I would want people to know that I’m the new generation Latina. [I'm] very different from what I’ve grown up listening to. We are much more Americanized now. We have a little bit of this and a little bit of that, we fit in everywhere. I wanted to break that boundary within cultures...I really want to be an empowering symbol for young girls."