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20 Questions with Zion y Lennox: Celebrating a 20-Year Trajectory with New ‘El Sistema’ Album

20 Questions with Zion y Lennox: Celebrating a 20-Year Trajectory with New ‘El Sistema’ Album

Zion & Lennox is celebrating a prolific 20-year trajectory with the release of their fourth studio album El Sistema out now via Warner Music Latina.

Home to 14 tracks, including the previously-released singles “Te Mueves,” “No Me Llama,” and “Gota Gota,” La Z (Felix Ortiz Torres) and La L (Gabriel Pizarro) are “very happy with this new baby.” “We did this album with a lot of love for our fans,” Lennox tells Billboard.

El Sistema, named after the very first song that was created for this album back in 2018, counts with collaborations from Sech, Natti Natasha, Rauw Alejandro, Myke Towers, and El Alfa, to name a few.

The set comes five years after their 2016 album Motivan2. Zion y Lennox is also celebrating two decades of career with multiple back-to-back concerts set to take place in December at the emblematic Coliseo de Puerto Rico in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Below, read Billboard’s 20 Questions with the reggaetón duo:

1. Why did you title the album El Sistema?

Zion: We did a music camp in Medellín in 2018, we recorded the first song for the album called “Sistema.” Every time we created a song, everyone went back to how good this one was — and that’s where we made the decision. Besides that, it just made sense. Everything nowadays is digital and has to do with technology, it’s a way for Zion y Lennox to keep modern.

2. What’s your personal favorite song from the album?

Lennox: I really like “Estrella,” it’s a solo track that I feel has that essence and energy that characterizes us.

Zion: I also like “Estrella” but another one that I really like is “Diosa del Caribe” featuring Rauw Alejandro. It’s very fresh and I feel fans will really like it.

3. What’s so special about “Estrella” that it was chosen as the focus track?

Lennox: This song is like a continuation of all the tracks that we’ve released without any collaboration. We like to specify when it’s a solo track or a collaboration because it gives us strength as a duo. I feel that this song has everything it takes to become our next hit.

Zion: We love the rhythm, from the melodies to a semi-romantic reggaetón. The music video was filmed in the Dominican Republic. It just made sense to be the focus track.

4. Out of all the collaborations on El Sistema who’s your favorite artist to work with at the studio?

Zion: At times, it’s complicated to get together with our colleagues at the studio because of everyone’s agenda. The majority of these songs are created by us and then we send them out to our colleagues. The majority of them liked the tracks and didn’t say no, but most of these tracks were done together with Justin Quiles, Dimelo Flow, ChocQuibTown’s Slow, and other great producers, and then we thought of the collaborators. We can’t choose one, we love to collaborate with our friends.

5. 20 years are easier said than done. Do you recall your first musical break?

Zion: I think it was around 2002 when “Me Pones en Tension” got leaked from DJ Nelson’s studio and it was the first song we ever worked on with Luny Tunes. We had already released lots of songs and music videos but we never went viral until that song got leaked. That’s when Zion y Lennox just exploded and we started making money with our music.

6. How about the first time you felt “famous”?

Lennox: I have so many memories of when I was getting started! I remember the first time I was in a music video for my brother Mackie. I snuck into the filming, wore his clothes, and came out dancing. I didn’t even sing with Zion at that time.

7. Who made you realize you could be an artist?

Zion: A lot of people believed in us, like local DJs in Puerto Rico. Tito el Bambino was one of our first managers. Elías de León of White Lion Records gave us the first opportunity to launch our first studio album in 2004.

Lennox: My brother Mackie, who started in music before I did, gave us a lot of advice and actually united us as a duo.

8. Which would you say is the most emblematic Zion & Lennox song?

Lennox: There are so many important ones but I think that “Doncella” is very strong. “Hay Algo en Ti,” and “Tu Principe” with Daddy Yankee. There’s a lot!

9. In celebration of your sold-out shows at El Choli, what’s the first concert you ever saw at el Coliseo de Puerto Rico?

Zion: I saw El Coyote live, who’s a very well-known personality in Puerto Rico. I attended many Daddy Yankee concerts as a fan, and of course, our own shows that are always great.

10. What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen happen in the crowd of one of your sets?

Zion: We’ve seen it all! People fainting, people crying, girls throwing their bras on stage, anything to catch our attention.

11. How did being from Carolina, Puerto Rico shape your art?

Zion: We feel huge because our city’s slogan has always been, “Los Gigantes de Carolina.”

Lennox: Exactly! It fills us with a lot of pride, and I think that it helped us a lot — because this entire culture began in Carolina.

12. What was the last song you listened to?

Zion: I heard a corrido that we made. It’s not part of the album but we finished it this week and it sounds amazing. It’s a peculiar corrido because we incorporated el cuatro guitar and mixed the Puerto Rican culture with Mexican. We’re trying to see which artist we invite on the track.

13. What artist, dead or alive, would you like to see in concert?

Lennox: Michael Jackson, Bob Marley, Marc Anthony.

14. What song or movie always makes you cry?

Zion: When I was little, I cried a lot for Ghost.

Lennox: I really like The Lion King, especially when Mufasa dies saving Simba, that part always makes me emotional. For some reason, José Luis Perales’ “¿Y Como Es Él?” also made me cry when I was a kid.

15. Describe parenthood in one word:

Lennox: Love.

Zion: Compromise.

16. What do you spend too much money on?

Lennox: On work — especially buying clothes and investing in equipment.

17. What’s one skill you learned during the pandemic lockdown?

Zion: I learned how to cook during the pandemic — lots of Italian plates, parrilladas, and other new dishes. I haven’t cooked since everything began opening up, but I loved it. I also explored my entrepreneurial side, making lots of business, such as opening a club in Miami Beach.

Lennox: Same, I learned how to cook rice and Puerto Rican food. I became a semi-chef! I also adapted to the new norm by doing everything via Zoom and setting up my own studio at home.

18. If you weren’t a musician, what would you be doing?

Zion: I think we can both agree that we’d be Hollywood actors. We already had the opportunity to be part of a movie filmed in the Dominican Republic, so I think our next step would be to be on Netflix or the big screen.

19. Your favorite vacation spot?

Zion: There are so many but I think our favorite one as a duo is the Dominican Republic.

20. What’s one thing you want new fans to know about Zion y Lennox?

Lennox: That we’re one of the pioneers of reggaetón and that we have a lot of great music. We know that the new generation knows who we are but we encourage them to read our history and trajectory.

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