"There's a backlash because I sing in English now," says 26-year-old Frankie J, who was born in Mexico and raised in San Diego. His second English-language album, The One, was released by Columbia in late March, hitting number three on Billboard's R&B albums chart. At this writing, the first single, "Obsession (No Es Amor)," featuring Latino rapper Baby Bash, is number five on Billboard's Hot Latin Tracks and number four on the Pop 100 Airplay charts.
The singer, born Francisco Javier Bautista, previously spent four years with the Spanish-singing Los Kumbia Kings (where he was known as Cisko), led by A.B. Quintanilla, brother of murdered tejano pop star Selena. "I lost a lot of fans when I left that group [in 2003].... They say I should stick to my roots and call me a sellout [because I sing in English], but if you can do both languages, why not do both? Look at Ricky Martin coming out of [Spanish-singing] Menudo. Then there's Jennifer Lopez and Fat Joe, who are Puerto Rican.... It's a good time to get onto the Latino-English train and ride, ride, ride."
The new album's second single, "How to Deal," will be released this week as the singer firms up plans for a 50-city summer U.S. tour.