Nicky Jam Breaks Down His Tattoos | GQ

published on July 2, 2020

– Real answer, I got my first tattoo

when I was 10 years old

10 years old, it was a bad thing,

but my dad saw it and he was nervous

'cause obviously having a
tattoo when you're 10 years old

going to school with a
tattoo is not a good thing

[upbeat music]

Yeah I was 10 years old
when I had my first tattoo

It was like the ugliest
thing in the world

It was just a letter of my brother

My dad he punished me and obviously

told my brother this crazy guy

just did a tat, he did the
letter of your name on his arm

Yeah he knew about it

– [Interviewer] And did your brother know,

when you were getting it, that
you were getting his name?

– No he didn't know about that

He's a brother from my father's
side, not from my mother

He didn't live with me, so my
dad called him and told him

– [Interviewer] Do you
still have that tattoo?

– It's a true story, 'cause he was scared

that social workers could take me from him

and stuff like that,
he did some stuff that,

he put something on it
that made it kind of burn

You could see the burn but
you can't see the tattoo

– [Interviewer] And
then how long after that

'til you got your next one?

– When I was 15 years old I did a tribal

Yeah, I did that, I was 15 years old

My dad was like, I mean I tried

That's what he like, so
my uncle, in the '80s,

he had tattoos everywhere
and I fell in love with that

I said I wanted tattoos

It was weird to see somebody in the '80s

with both arms done and tattoos
on his neck and everywhere

I mean my uncle was
always in and out of jail

but for some reason it was,

I found it sexy, you know what I'm saying?

I said tattoos look, there
something about tattoos,

a lifestyle, that I want a part to be

And I always wanted to be like my uncle

Not bad, bad like my
uncle, but I like his swag

So I wanted to have his swag

I was saying when I saw
Tupac for the first time

and I knew about him more '95 '96,

he was like one of the first rappers

to have tattoos everywhere

He had the thug life on his stomach,

he had pretty much everywhere

That made me fall in love
with the culture as well

[upbeat music]

I left my house when
I was 15 16 years old

So after that it was
whatever I wanted to do

So I had tattoos, I
started doing bit by bit

I was one of the first
raggaeton artists with tattoos

I'm talking about 1998 '97,
people wasn't used to that

I think one thing, one of
the reasons why I like tattoo

was 'cause I had that clean-cut face

I kinda like that combination,
that clean-cut face

combined with the
roughness of the tattoos

You could tell I had
something with tattoos

'cause I kept getting them,
15, 16, like every year

I would get a tattoo

Now I'm just, I don't
even have space anymore

– [Interviewer] What would you
say are your favorite ones?

– I'd have to say that one of
my mom that's in my arm here

One of me here going up some stairs,

I like that one a lot

Couple more, there's a lot [laughs]

I got my neck tattoo
when I was in Columbia,

probably like, I could say
like seven eight years ago

I didn't really like it the first time

I even got depressed, I'm not gonna lie

'Cause it looked like I had a scarf on

It was so black and my face was so white

and you could see the
black tattoo on my neck

And people would say what
do you have on your neck?

I went to another tattoo
guy and I told him that

I wanted him to do white
all over my tattoo

And that made it better
and made it more clear

I did some stuff to add under it

It wasn't just one thing here

So it looked like a whole
artwork and then it got better

Now I like it, I like the way it is

My first tattoo on my
face, I think it has to be,

I did like musical notes,
I started with that

then I did the three dots

and then I kept going for more

I like doing tattoos
where not a lot of people

like doing them on

They're doing them because they think

they're gonna look crazy, you know?

That's kind of my vibe
and I think other people

that have similar tattoos
probably think the same

So this is my mom and
it says I love you mom

and it says family on top

This is the cross

I have my daughter's name Yarimar

I have my symbol here,
it's the Nicky Jam symbol,

that's my brand

This is the face of my daughter

I did this when people didn't
do faces back in 90 something

Now it looks like a little grandmother

Doesn't really look like
my daughter right now

She don't like it that much

I have the Puerto Rican Indian sun

It's just a symbolic Indian sun

I've got love on my knuckles

I have the Jam here that
connects with the Nicky Jam

This Japanese thing, it means warrior

Stuff like that

I'm not done yet [laughs]

– [Interviewer] What else
do you plan on getting?

– I'm trying to get all the space out,

so I don't know, I'll probably
write another message here

like the one I got here

– [Interviewer] What does that one say?

– It says hard times don't last

Only the strong people last

I live my life like it's
going to be the last day,

always with God

– [Interviewer] Which were
your most painful ones,

would you say?

– Painful tattoos, I
gotta say the knuckles

Knuckles hurt a lot, probably 'cause

they're next to the bone

I have to say my chest
hurt more than my neck

'cause the bone is right there

The guy that did my chest
was a really strong guy,

so he went hard on me

Oh yeah, here inside my
arm, that hurt a lot too

– [Interviewer] Who else
besides Tupac, would you say

did you have any kind of
tattoo heroes growing up?

You mentioned Tupac

– A lot of rock stars,
I liked they had a vibe

Eminem had good tattoos as well

and started doing a lot of tattoos

– [Interviewer] Right
now you're in Bad Boys

You also have a new
single with Daddy Yankee

– Well yeah, the Bad Boys thing is like

one of the best things
that ever happened to me

'cause first of all
it's a box office movie

It's not like just any movie

This is the first time I do a movie

that's number one everywhere

It's not a cameo, I'm almost,

you're gonna see me
until half of the movie

doing bad ass shit, you
know what I'm saying?

Like shooting people and
jumping on motorcycles

and whooping ass, so you know, like,

we gonna wanna sit down at the movies

and see yourself doing
that with your family

– [Interviewer] And what
about your new single?

– The new single was a
blessing 'cause Bad Boys

as a franchise has been
around for 20 years

To see that Daddy Yankee and Nicky Jam

having done a song in 20 years,

it was the perfect timing
so we did this song

I knew it was gonna be a hit

since I heard the first melodies

And then I called Daddy
Yankee, he hopped on it

and Sony Pictures told
me they wanted a song

for the soundtrack

And I said this is the song

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