Like Magneto, Menudo, and UFF before them, CNCO (short for “Cinco”) is taking the reins as today’s hottest Latin boy band. Consisting of “Puerto Rican Zabdiel de Jesús, Dominican American Richard Camacho, Ecuadorian Christopher Velez, Mexican American Joel Pimentel, and Cuban-born Eric Brian Colon” (via Billboard), CNCO was formed after winning Univision’s first season of La Banda in 2015. One of the judges? Former member of Menudo and crossover superstar Ricky Martin.
They quickly landed a recording contract with Sony Latin Music and started churning out hits like “Tan fácil” and “Quisiera.” Flash forward four years later, and they’ve toured with such acts as Ariana Grande, Enrique Iglesias, and Pitbull, and collaborated with Becky G and Meghan Trainor — and gained a rabid fan base who call themselves “CNCOwners.”
“We still haven’t even woke up from it,” Camacho told People in 2019. “We can’t really step back and think about it so much and that’s why we’re super grounded because we keep that in our essence. We try to believe it but not believe it and not let it get to our heads.” Here’s something you can keep in your essence. It is the untold truth of CNCO.
CNCO created its own special language to communicate
The guys of CNCO were strangers when they first met on La Banda, but it didn’t take long for them to hit it off. “We just had a good relationship, throughout the show. Everyone on the show was friends, but we just got along a little bit more. So at the end of the day, when we became a band, we already had that chemistry,” Richard Camacho told Paper in 2019.
However, they ran into a little issue. “It was a little difficult to understand each other since we’re all from different countries or some of us didn’t speak Spanish or English so well or vice versa. We’ve kind of created this CNCO language,” Camacho continued. “It’s Spanglish and we have slang words that people kind of don’t understand, but we do. It’s a super cool bond.”
Communicating effectively took time to figure out, but as Comacaho says, “time did its thing.” He added, “Every day we learn new things about each other. Every day, we learn what someone went through and now we know how to give each space, how to give each other that respect. I feel like that’s what keeps CNCO together. It’s about communication and respect. That’s our rulebook.”
Ricky Martin is CNCO's true mentor
If anybody knows how to navigate life in a boy band, it’s Ricky Martin (above left). After joining Menudo at the ripe old age of 12, Martin went on to superstardom as a solo artist. Now he is taking the lessons he learned to mentor the younger generation by taking CNCO under his wing. “We’ve learned a lot [from Ricky], but mostly about his humbleness,” Richard Camacho told TooFab. “The way he keeps his ground is insane. After everything that he’s been through throughout his whole career, he’s still so grounded. We met him and we didn’t expect him to be so welcoming and so human because people see those kind of artists with that kind of trajectory as something else.”
Martin’s most important piece of wisdom to the guys? “Always keep our ground and remember where we come from and to love what we do and always have passion for what we’re doing,” Camacho continued. “But just to see how hard he works inspires us every day. To have that mentor around us is a blessing.”
“He always finds a way to communicate with us,” Joel Pimentel also told TooFab. “Before shows, he FaceTimes us. Like we were just in Viña Del Mar, one of the biggest festivals in Latin America, and he called to congratulate us, giving us tips with what to do before we go on stage. But we’re always in communication with Ricky.”
COVID-19 postponed CNCO's third album and tour
CNCO’s third album was expected to drop in March 2020 along with stops on their Press Start tour. Unfortunately, COVID-19 came into the picture and put those plans on hold. “We had to postpone our shows in Monterrey and in Peru,” Christopher Vélez said during an Instagram Live with the rest of the band (via Billboard).
The band also revealed that its third album had to be delayed since the guys were unable to record together during a global pandemic. “That’s the most important news right now, and to remind you that it’s important to stay at home,” he continued.
According to Substream Magazine, the first leg of the tour was set to hit eleven cities, beginning with Coliseo de Puerto Rico in San Juan in May 2020 and wrapping up at Chicago’s Rosemont Theater in the following month. We assume the guys are anxiously waiting to press start.
CNCO doesn't see itself as a boy band
When you think of boy bands you think of coordinated outfits and dance routines. CNCO doesn’t want to give off that impression. “We don’t see it like that, we don’t see being a boy band, as that we have to do things in that cheesy way,” Richard Camacho told Paper. “At the end of the day, we’re not like the old boy bands.”
He says the fact the band does “reggaeton” and speaks “Spanglish” makes them unique. “We’re the first boy band that has a different culture, so much culture, so many different countries represented in just one. It just feels very unique,” he continued, adding, “We feel like we’re doing something different.”
Camacho credits “Latino music” for being “very poppin’ right now,” so the group can be a “part of that wave.” He hopes they can “change the whole stigma around cheesy boy band culture,” but please do not call them a boy band. “We found a cool way to be a boy band,” he explained. “We’re just in a cool band.”
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