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Photo: Guerrera PR
Photo: Guerrera PR

Álvaro Díaz embraces mixed-emotions on new album ‘Felicilandia’

The artist spoke with AL DÍA on his new LP, which channels the highs and lows of remembering and moving past a lost love.

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Álvaro Díaz has been spending some time in his native Puerto Rico. It was where the urban-alt rap artist, singer, producer, and creative director was awaiting the release of his latest album, Felicilandia, just one night prior.

Díaz wears many hats. In addition to music and other creative projects, he works on his own clothing line, Lv Ciudvd, but his focus lately has been the new album, recorded as a means to capture some of the artist’s rawer emotions.

Confident in his artistic expression, Díaz shared with AL DÍA a desire for Felicilandia’s intended emotions to be conveyed to his listeners.

The album is somewhat split into two tales — one of love and one of heartbreak, but more specifically Díaz’s personal reactions to both.

The first leg is more upbeat and loving, with themes of sadness, infidelity and abandonment slowly sneaking their way in.

Díaz believes the first half is easier to dance to, while the second half is more about being sad, with a heavier focus on lyricism.

Early on, Díaz’s Felicilandia opens the door for listeners with the lush and ever-beautiful “Bienvenidos A Felicilandia,” a song he describes as the album’s very own “movie intro.”

“The concept of the album is very nostalgic,” said Díaz. “I try to connect with… the things that would get me excited as a kid like watching a Disney movie with my family.”

Like a film itself, Díaz lets listeners down easily with his second track, “OG Black,” a love song with a dark twist. The concept continues into “Gatillera.”

“OG Black” is a love song inspired by the trajectory of a rapper of the same name, whose career fizzled out after getting involved in the adult film industry.

Apart from its adult themes, Díaz was pulling sonic inspiration from the music of his youth, which is why he framed the song around the story of artist OG Black, and his old school reggaetón involvement.

“It’s really Kanye-inspired,” said Díaz. “Kanye will sample things that he would listen to with his mom as a kid. I do the same things. That’s why almost all the tracks have old school reggaetón samples.”

Directly after the second track, “Gatillera” comes into focus, telling the story of a quarantine love story.

With his bittersweet portrayals of deep love and expressions, Díaz welcomes his listener into his world of imperfect situations, where love and affection shine through.

Díaz’s song “Problemon,” featuring Rauw Alejandro, depicts a relationship torn apart by infidelity, an all-encompassing problem for those involved. 

As Felicilandia progresses, a handful of songs cater to modern love in a more digital age.

“Close Friends” takes a look at a scenario where a woman removes the speaker from her “close friends” on Instagram.

This is an action that could either go under someone’s nose completely, or cause a spiral into overthinking where the removed begins questioning their place in that someone’s life.

Díaz considers an oddly empty feeling that can come from being ghosted on the song “Online ;(.” 

More or less, this song takes a dive into feelings of abandonment and wishing you could still speak to someone who does not want the same. 

While the right thing to do is respect their decision, the speaker feels down over their shortcomings.

Collaborating with Rawayana for “Chinita Linda,” Díaz and the band come through with one catchy tune that supports the listener and their pursuit of one day spending time with their crush.

At the end of the day, Felicilandia is about learning to embrace the emotions you have as opposed to silencing them. 

Listening to feelings and honoring home

Felicilandia is an album that encourages the listener to fight an urge to suppress those feelings which may make them uncomfortable.

In regards to the album title, inspirations, Díaz believes that Felicilandia is a place where sad kids go to find happiness. 

“For me, the album is searching for happiness,” said Díaz. “For me, [happiness] is love. Not only love in a relationship, but love to your family, love to your friends, love to yourself. I think that’s where true happiness is.”

Felicilandia, staying aligned with themes of nostalgia, was influenced in part by Díaz’s San Juan upbringing.

The artist pays homage to the island often, even sampling a coqui frog in the song “Brilloteo.”

“People don’t usually recognize me as a Puerto Rican artist,” said Díaz. “But I have Puerto Rico all over my songs. Songs like ‘Problemon,’ ‘Brilloteo,’ ‘Gatillera,’ ‘Llori Pari,’ … that’s phrases we use in Puerto Rico.”

The album closes with a recording of  Díaz’s mother, singing a song she once used to recite to Álvaro, a representation of the aforementioned search for happiness.

“I got excited when my mom sent me that. I said, ‘I gotta finish the album with this’ … it makes sense for the album.”

Álvaro Díaz’s new album Felicilandia is out now and available to stream.

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