With the breakthroughs of J Balvin, Maluma, and Karol G, Medellín, Colombia has become a hub for reggaeton music. Their frequent collaborator, Feid, has been keeping the world’s eyes on Medellín while putting his heartfelt touch on the genre that celebrates the city’s culture. After a year of performing around the world, Feid returned to his hometown earlier this month and made history as the first artist to sell out three consecutive concerts at the local arena, La Macarena.
“The first concert I did was in La Macarena,” Feid tells SPIN from the terrace of his hotel overlooking Medellín. “J Balvin brought me out during his performance for his Energia concert [in 2016]. Now, we put everything into my shows. I just wanted to give them the best show. That’s my city. I had to put forth the best of me for them to enjoy these shows.”
Feid’s breakthrough has been nearly a decade in the making, and his concerts reflected that. From atop a massive monster truck, he rattled off hits from albums like 2019’s 19 and last year’s Inter Shibuya – La Mafia. The audience wore a sea of lime green, Feid’s signature color, with many fans sporting Oakley sunglasses with his nickname, Ferxxo, written across the lenses.
But before Feid was inspiring style trends, the singer-songwriter spent years behind the scenes. His first big break came in 2015 as a co-writer of J Balvin’s smash hit “Ginza,” which was integral in putting Colombian reggaeton on the map. Although the dembow-driven genre has often been rooted in Panama and Puerto Rico, Feid’s work helped it find another base in Medellín.
“That song opened my mind in a lot of aspects, [particularly] as a songwriter trying to set different goals for myself to go beyond Colombia,” Feid says. “[J Balvin] taught us to believe in yourself. He had that idea. The song was [the production team’s] idea. We convinced him to put it out, and then he convinced the world that it was a smash.”
At the same time, Feid was trying to establish himself as an artist. J Balvin teamed up with him for 2016’s “Que Raro,” but he didn’t make a global impact until 2020’s “Porfa” with Justin Quiles. Then after co-writing and collaborating with reggaeton’s stars, he called in a few favors for the remix.
“I started calling my friends like ‘Yo, you remember when I did this for you? I need you to do something for me now,'” Feid says.
Ultimately, he assembled the Avengers of the genre with Maluma, J Balvin, Puerto Rican singer Nicky Jam and Panama’s Sech all featuring on the track. The star-studded song helped Feid reach new heights, but it also gave him confidence to use more local lingo in his music.
With “Porfa” stemming from the Colombian slang for “please,” Feid saw an opening for other ways to use his native dialect in interesting ways for the world to understand. In “Chimbita,” he highlighted the city’s “nea” culture that he describes as people “from the hood.” The song’s title itself is Colombian slang for “a good time,” while he uses expressions like “mor” (a term of endearment) and “parchar,” which technically means “to patch,” but colloquially translates into “to hang out.”
“Medellín has a lot of slang — a lot of different ways to call something,” he says. “I started using that in my songs. I think that’s the perfect way of how I connect with people from here and even from outside.”
Feid’s recent hits, like the hypnotic “Feliz Cumpleaños Ferxxo” and the dreamy “Normal” — the latter of which recently went platinum in under two months — are rife with Colombian slang. But there’s also an air of romantic nostalgia that runs throughout Feid’s sentimental reggaeton songs. His fans joke online that his heartbreaking track “Si Te La Encuentras Por Ahí” may “last for 3:11 minutes, but hurts for a lifetime.”
“I’m always trying to put messages of love in my songs,” Feid says. “Sometimes you want to say something to that girl or that man, and you don’t know how to do it. Ferxxo always has the perfect phrases. I have the perfect bars for everything.”
While his album was originally scheduled to drop in December, Feid released it earlier this month due to online leaks. One song that didn’t appear on Feliz Cumpleaños Ferxxo Te Pirateamos El Álbum was his collaboration with hip-hop icon DJ Premier. Feid revealed that although DJ Premier was friends with reggaeton legend Don Omar, they never collaborated. So of all the non-album tracks, he’s most excited about breaking new ground with the producer.
“I was like ‘Bro, I’m your first Latin artist jumping on one of your beats,'” Feid recalls. “It was super special for me. [Premier] was like ‘I love this song. I don’t even know what you’re saying, but you’re killing it.'”
As for when the world will hear that track, Feid promised another album on December 1 that will most likely feature the collaboration. For now, he’s feeling inspired from his warm welcome home and he’s driven to keep proudly representing Medellín as he moves into the spotlight.
“I feel like I have the sound of Medellín on my back,” Feid says. “I want to leave a huge footprint for my people from Colombia.”