Maybe the name Natalia Alexandra Gutiérrez Batista doesn’t sound too familiar to you. But maybe her stage name, Natti Natasha rings a bell. Yes, she’s the lovely voice that made the music charts alongside Don Omar with the song “Dutty Love.” Natti was born and raised in Santiago, Dominican Republic, where she developed a true love for music. She was studying Industrial Engineering, when all of the sudden, she realized she needed to take a plunge and adventure into the unknown. She packed up her bags and moved to New York City to pursue her passion, her dream, her true love, music.

“Dutty Love” was her breakthrough performance. The song was recorded in 2011 but released in 2012 and we could say it was probably the song of the year. It reached number one in the Billboard US Latin Songs, Billboard US Latin Pop Songs and Billboard US Latin Tropical Airplay. It was played in every party. Its catchy rhythm and lyrics captured audiences that would sing it nonstop. The song also won major awards and became one of the most popular songs of 2012. It is a part of Don Omar’s compilation album, Don Omar Presents MTO²: New Generation (2012), and Orfanato Music Group's first mixtape Love is Pain (2011).

Some might say Natti Natasha got lucky, because almost immediately after she moved to the States, she met Don Omar, the man that would help her further her career, but reality is, Natti worked very hard to be where she is, and Don Omar didn’t give her everything she wanted either. He made her work for it and if she’s successful today, it’s because she earned it. “This path has been an adventure,” Natti exclusively told Latin Times. “Back in Santiago, Dominican Republic, where I was born and raised, I was a part of a few urban bands. People in that city listen to a lot of Rn’B and Hip Hop, and several years ago, when I was in those groups, we toured around the city and recorded a lot.”

“I was studying Industrial Engineering but music kept calling me, so I thought to myself ‘Well, the only way I’ll be able to grow is to take a risk.’ So I left everything. My family, my home. And it hurt. It hurt me to leave them to come all by myself to the United States. But I persevered, although I had no idea how I would pay the recording studio where I went. But I had a friend here, and she kept pushing me to continue singing and recording because you never knew what was going to happen, and that was the case.”

When did your start singing? How did you know it was what you wanted to do?

"Ever since I was a baby I was in love with music. I used to lock myself in my bedroom, singing and dancing and pretending my hair brush was a microphone. I used to spend hours and hours. Then when I really became more invested in music with the band and all, I starting escaping my house to be able to go perform with them because my parents weren’t too happy that I was getting so much into music, at least then, because now they’ve seen what I can do and know that it’s not that bad. It’s totally normal that they worry, it was a typical parent behavior, but now they’re my number one fans."

Where did you meet Don Omar? What’s the story behind it?

“I went to this studio in the Bronx that is ran by another Dominican, producer Link-On. He was the one who called me up and said ‘Natti, I don’t understand why if you’re in NYC, you don’t come over. Let’s record anything. We’ll worry about the money later.’ It was a summer. I went over, I was finishing my second song, and I was recording everything in English. And I remember leaving the studio, about to go into my car, when I saw this other group who was going to record. All of the sudden, Link-On calls me and says ‘Natti I need you to come back because William heard your song and your voice and he wants to meet you.’ I thought to myself ‘Who the hell is William?’ but I said ok, and went back. When I opened the door I see Link-On first, looking at me with a smirk, and then someone grabs my hand like greeting me and says ‘You’re my star.’ And I still didn’t know who he was because I had never seen William Omar Landrón in person. Don Omar. I was still confused and I saw Link-On staring at me like ‘What the hell, why aren’t you excited?’ and I stared back at him and after a while it hit me, so I told him ‘Oh, this is Don Omar!’ To which he replied ‘Yes dummy!’ After that moment we started talking. Don Omar was there with his producers Alcover and Xtassy (A&X), and Link-On and we began talking about music, and life and it was a day to get to know each other, and they made me feel like I was a part of their group. He was so humble and I loved that he wanted to get to know me better musically speaking.”

How did you feel after that fortunate encounter?

“I loved having this opportunity because back home you kinda hang out with the same group of people, and my parents didn’t let me go out at all. They asked me why I didn’t sing ballads instead of urban-styled music. And they were getting a little anxious because they were afraid that I was going to take the wrong path and fall victim of many temptations. Anyways, after the day I met Don Omar, I continued making music and it was about a month later when he called me. He told me he had gotten together with the people in his company and everyone had agreed that they wanted me to join El Orfanato Music Group. That day was one of the best days of my life, even though I was still a nobody and I hadn’t fully achieved my career goals. Only to be recognized and accepted by that group of people, it was the beginning of my life. Even when I’m down I go back to that day and think to myself ‘Well, I’m here for a reason.’”

What has been the best advice he has given you?

“He told me ‘Natalia, I’m not gonna make it easy for you. I can help you, but you are the one who wins the audience. I can’t do that for you.’ And I had the will and motivation, but I didn’t know if I was going to be strong enough to make it but with his support, I feel like working more and more.”

How did your name become Natti Natasha?

“Before Don Omar signed me, I had been featured in his song “Carta al Cielo” singing a few verses along with him and Syko. That was my first tiny collaboration to give the song a little feminine touch, and it was then when he named me Natti Natasha. It wasn’t planned. He just said it and it stuck.”

How would you define your style?

“My style would be “Urban Pop” but I’m open to anything. Music is art and anything can come out of you.”

Which artists would you like to collaborate with in the future?

“There are so many! Marc Anthony is great. There are so many American artists that I would love to collaborate with. I can’t really say one. But I do know that from the Dominican Republic I would love to do something with Juan Luis Guerra.”

What are you up to now? Is there an album coming soon?

“I’m currently recording and working on new stuff, so for now I’m focused on releasing singles and later on we will talk about the album. Right now ‘Makoosa’ is out and I’m very, very excited because it’s my first single on my own and my first music video, so I’m freaking out but I can’t wait for the day of the video release and experience that joy, that I know will be the first of many, but since it will be the first, it will hold a special place in my heart."

What does ‘Makossa’ mean?

“Makossa is an African urban musical style. It literally means ‘dance,’ so obviously the song will have a little dance to it that you will see once we release the music video.”

Why did you choose ‘Makossa’ as your first single?

“I think it was the fact that the song is able to transcend generations. Everyone can connect to it and enjoy it, and I want it to reach many places. I think both music and lyrics are very inviting and make you want to dance and enjoy it. I personally loved the song when I heard it for the first time, so I locked it right away.”