Queen in 2010
|Birth name||Martha Ivelisse Pesante Rodríguez|
|Also known as||The Queen of Reggaeton|
March 4, 1972 |
Añasco, Puerto Rico
|Origin||New York, New York|
|Genres||Reggaeton, Hip hop, Bachata|
|Occupations||Composer, singer, actress, record producer|
|Labels||Sony International Records (1997–2003)
Real Music Group (2003–2004)
Universal Latino (2004)
Univision Records (2005–2008)
Drama Records (2005–present)
Machete Music (2010–present)
Siente Music (2012–present)
Martha Ivelisse Pesante Rodríguez (born March 4, 1972), known as Ivy Queen, is a Puerto Rican-American singer, songwriter, record producer, and actress. She was born in Añasco, Puerto Rico, but later moved with her parents to New York City, where she lived until she finished her public education, before returning to Añasco. When she was 18 years old, Queen moved to San Juan where she met record producer DJ Negro, who helped her gain performing spots with a group called "The Noise" at a local club. There she performed her first song "Somos Raperos Pero No Delincuentes". The Noise gained much attention due to their violent and explicitly sexual lyrics. Queen went solo in 1996, and released her debut studio album En Mi Imperio which was quickly picked up by Sony Discos for distribution in 1997.
She later released The Original Rude Girl , her second studio album for Sony label, which spawned the hit single "In the Zone". However, Ivy Queen did not rise to fame until she moved to an independent record label to release her third studio album, Diva in 2003. Queen's albums Diva, Flashback, and Sentimiento have all been awarded Gold and Platinum Record status by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Her seventh studio album Drama Queen was released in 2010, and spawned a top ten single "La Vida es Así". Queen's recordings often include themes of female empowerment, infidelity, and relationships, and she is often referred to as the Queen of Reggaeton.
Queen has also ventured into acting, has been involved with an anti-cancer charity, and has launched a doll modeled on her appearance. In February 2012, she made her acting debut in Eve Ensler's play "The Vagina Monologues".
Early life 
Ivy Queen was born in Añasco, Puerto Rico. When she was young, Ivy Queen's parents moved to New York City, where she was raised. Her parents returned to their hometown of Añasco when Ivy was in her teens. She did not finish high school, reaching eleventh grade in the United States, and studied music at the New Jersey School of Performing Arts She also lived in The Bronx and Dominican Republic in poverty.
Musical career 
1993–2003: En Mi Imperio and The Original Rude Girl 
When she was 18, Ivy Queen moved to San Juan, where she met rapper and producer DJ Negro. In 1995, she joined an all-male Puerto Rican group called The Noise, at the invitation of DJ Negro. The group became part of the emerging reggaeton scene. DJ Negro began producing a series of CDs centered around The Noise. Ivy Queen made her first appearance on the fifth installment of the CD series on a track called "Somos Raperos Pero No Delincuentes". She became tired of the violent and sexual themes often used in reggaeton, and wished to write about a wider variety of subjects.
DJ Negro convinced Queen to go solo, and in 1997 she recorded her first solo album, En Mi Imperio—which featured the hit single "Como Mujer"—for Sony Discos. In 1998, Queen launched her second album, The Original Rude Girl—which featured Don Chezina, Alex D'Castro, and Domingo Quiñones— and worked with Wyclef Jean on her debut single "In the Zone". The album is bilingual and features Hip hop music, a departure from the reggaeton featured on her debut album. The Original Rude Girl was commercially unsuccessful but "In The Zone" charted at number 38 on the Billboard Rhythmic Top 40.
In 1999, after a lack of commercial success with her first two studio albums, Sony dropped Queen and she took a break from her musical career.[not in citation given] In 2001 and 2002, Queen's music began appearing on reggaeton compilation albums, spawning hits like "Quiero Bailar" from The Majestic 2 and "Quiero Saber" from Kilates. In 2003, Queen and her then-husband Gran Omar signed with independent, Miami-based label Real Music, established by Jorge Guadalupe and Anthony Pérez. They appeared on the label's first album Jams Vol. 1. Queen frequently appeared and performed on the reggaeton television show "The Roof", which featured urban music and lifestyle, and was produced by Pérez.
2003–2004: Diva and Real 
In 2003, Ivy Queen released Diva, her third studio album. It spawned hit singles including "Quiero Bailar". The album is considered to have been important for exposing reggaeton to a mainstream audience in 2004. After the success of the album—which was certified platinum by the RIAA, Ivy Queen released a platinum edition of Diva in 2004. The platinum edition was nominated for "Reggaeton Album of the Year" at the 2005 Billboard Latin Music Awards. "Quiero Bailar", the album's lead single, became the first Spanish-language track to reach number one on the Rhythmic Top 40 chart of Miami's WPOW—an American radio station that does not usually play Spanish music.
Queen's fourth studio album, Real, was originally planned to be her first full-length English language album after she received contract offers from several record labels—including Sony. Queen said that it was a good opportunity to reach other markets, and in particular the competitive market of English rap. Sony's offer to record an English-language album came after they noticed that her previous Sony albums were being heard in London, thanks to the success of Diva. The album included collaborations with artists including Fat Joe, La India, Héctor Delgado, and Getto & Gastam. American hip-hop producer Swizz Beatz produced the track "Soldados". The album was released on November 16, 2004, and spawneed the Top 10 single "Dile" which was nominated for "Tropical Airplay Track of the Year, Female".
2005–2007: Flashback and Sentimiento 
In 2005, Ivy Queen partnered with José Guadalupe—co-founder of Perfect Image Records—to form the record label Filtro Musik. Later that year, Univision Records signed Filtro Musik to promote Ivy Queen's fifth studio album Flashback (2005). This ensured that the album was positioned in Latin and mainstream accounts that would normally not carry Latin product. Queen's first compilation album The Best of Ivy Queen, consisting of tracks from Diva and Real, was released the same year. On October 29, 2005, she released Flashback, which contained the singles "Cuéntale", "Libertad", and "Te He Querido, Te He Llorado". At the 2006 Billboard Latin Music Awards, Flashback was nominated for "Reggaeton Album of the Year" for a second consecutive year. The following year, Ivy Queen, and Gran Omar presented the reggaeton and hip hop compilation album Cosa Nostra: Hip Hop. She later appeared on the Spanish-language recording of the Star-Spangled Banner, "Nuestro Himno". She then received the first Premio Juventud "Diva Award", which honored Queen for her musical career.
In April 2007, Ivy Queen released her sixth studio album entitled Sentimiento. She began working on the album in 2006 after Cosa Nostra became a commercial failure. As a part of her evolution in reggaetón, Sentimiento includes "solo turns" instead of duets with guest artists. The solo tracks include; "Pobre Corazón" by Divino, "Manaña Al Despertar" by Baby Rasta and Noriega—none of which feature Queen's vocals. She said she wanted to give a 180-degree turn to what people think of reggaetón. She said, "[m]any think reggaetón is just nice rhythms to dance to. And they forget there are song-writers and composers, who, like everyone else, also suffer and aspire in love ... Love is what makes us write things, what keeps us alive. If we did not have love, we would have nothing". The album spawned a Top 10 hit "Que Lloren" and the moderately successful singles "En Que Fallamos" and "Sentimientos". at the Latin Grammy Awards of 2007 for his album Los De Atras Vienen Conmigo; Queen's Sentimiento was nominated for the award for Best Urban Music Album, which Puerto Rican duo Calle 13 won.
Calle 13's album included a song entitled "Que Lloren" which criticized Queen and asked her "to cut herself with a razor". She responded stating "I'm the queen of this genre, a genre that contains male rappers such as Don Omar, Wisin & Yandel and Tego Calderón who respect me a lot for an idiot to have my name in his mouth." After Calle 13 had won various awards in the urban music category, Queen called the duo to let them know publicly how she felt about them. She was unhappy because despite the abundance of awards and nominees, only Calle 13 received awards explaining "they dedicated the night to Calle 13." Tthe duo called Queen a hypocrite.
2008–2010: Ivy Queen 2008 World Tour LIVE! and Drama Queen 
In 2008, Queen released the single "Dime", which was featured on her first live album Ivy Queen 2008 World Tour LIVE!. In April 2010, she was signed to Machete Music. The signing, described as a 360 deal, includes profit sharing in tours, sponsorships and merchandising. Univision Records, was acquired by Machete's parent company Universal Music Latin Entertainment in 2008. Walter Kolm, president of Universal Music Latino and Machete, said in a press release, "[i]t's a privilege to have Ivy Queen a part of our artistic roster. Ivy is an extraordinary woman with incomparable talent, and she's number one in her genre. We're happy to be able to work with her on her new album as well as future projects". Queen said of the partnership, "I'm very proud to be a part of Machete Music. They are a young, vibrant company that has created a name for itself in Latin music in the United States and the world. They are a strong and important company that has been recognized for nurturing their artists’ creative talents ... ".
Drama Queen (2010), released on July 10, 2010, was originally intended to be released after her third compilation album Cosa Nostra: Hip-Hop (2006) as a concept album on which Ivy Queen would performing duets with female singers from different genres. Sentimiento was released instead. Queen told Efe that she started writing for the album while she was heartbroken at home. Her emotions then burst out in the recording studio. She added the album contains 16 of 26 songs she wrote during this period. When Latina Magazine asked her about the drama between the release of Sentimiento and Drama Queen, Queen said:
"I’m single. For the first time in my life, I’m really experiencing what that’s like because I used to always feel the need to be in a relationship; I didn’t like being alone. But this time I’m realizing that people come into your life for a season, and my last relationship served its purpose. I can’t sit here and cry about it, because it ended right where it should have. A lot of that stuff is on the album."
Drama Queen sold 3,000 units in its first week and dominated urban album sales for nine consecutive weeks. It debuted and peaked at number 163 on the US Billboard 200 chart, number three on Top Latin Albums, and number 18 on Rap Albums. Drama Queen received a nomination for Best Urban Music Album at the 2011 Latin Grammy Awards, which was won by Calle 13 for Entren Los Que Quieran. Queen also received two nominations at the 2011 Latin Billboard Music Awards for Hot Latin Songs Artist of the Year, Female and Top Latin Albums Artist of the Year, Female. Shakira won both awards.
2011–2012: Musa 
On August 21, 2012, Queen's eighth studio album Musa was released. It debuted and peaked at number 15 on the Billboard Top Latin Albums chart. She said that spending two years away from the media has helped her emotionally and mentally. She also said that the album is "very mature and complete," because although her style is urban and reggaeton it also features fusions of rhythms and instruments with their own styles.
Musical style and legacy 
Queen's musical style is classified as reggaeton—an urban genre with roots in Latin and Caribbean music. However, Queen also performs hip hop and bachata. Yoselín Acevedo of People en Español said that "'Cosas De La Vida'—which isn't her first bachata song, shows that other than being the 'Queen of Reggaeton' she can also easily convert herself into the 'Queen of Bachata'.
Queen has also recorded Salsa tracks, beginning in 2005 with "Amiga No Pienes" and "Yo Lamento", and in 2007 with "Si Eres Tú" which she recorded in a "big-band Salsa" style. She worked with La India on "Cuando Hieres A Una Mujer" and Víctoria Sanabría on "No Te Quiero". Ivy Queen cites Celia Cruz, La Lupe, and other "classic Salsa singers" as inspirations for her style of hip-hop music. Her main influence is Selena, to whom she pays tribute on her fifth studio album Flashback with a "reggaeton-ed up twist" on "Si Una Vez". She also said she enjoyed the songs "Como La Flor" and "La Carchacha". Queen told Ramiro Burr of the Houston Chronicle, "I admired Selena because she had that famous crossover success, but sadly she never got to enjoy it," she said.
Queen said that to stand out in the male-dominated world of reggaeton, she would have to deliver a strong point of view from a female perspective, saying, "God blessed me with a powerful voice. It is not feminine. It is not masculine. It is just a thick voice." Since beginning her career, Queen has wanted to create and compose songs "that have some kind of subject matter" so that people understand the concept and message. Instead of the vulgar lyrics common in reggaeton, Queen prefers to sing about love and heartbreak while touching on themes of homosexuality, racism, and defending women. Queen says she writes songs that "put bad men in their places or stand up for the single mothers". In "Que Lloren" she discusses romance from a woman's perspective while belittling the stereotype that men shouldn't cry or show emotions. In "|Quiero Bailar" she "berates a lover who thinks that just because they dance she is automatically going to bed with him."
According to Jon Pareles of the New York Times, Queen is the "only significant female reggaeton rapper". She is known as the "Queen of Reggaeton" in the traditionally male-dominated genre. She has become the "indisputable lead female voice of ... Latin urban and reggaeton music [and] as an international icon for Latin music itself." About.com named Ivy Queen one of the ten most influential women in Latin music in the category Reggaeton/Hip-Hop while selecting Sentimiento as Queen's best album.
Other media 
In December 2009, Ivy Queen launched a reggaeton doll. It was named "Queenie" and featured Queen's signature, long fingernails, and was manufactured by Global Trading Partners. The doll came with a recording device containing remixes of Queen's songs including "Menor Que Yo", "Que Lloren", and "Cuéntale". A case with accessories was also included.
Queen is a spokeswoman for the cancer charity Susan G. Komen for the Cure because her mother is a cancer survivor. Queen has been writing her autobiography, Detrás Del Glamour (Behind Glamour), since late-2007. She said that she is writing it "because people see me but don’t know what I’ve been through." She said the book will detail her life and the hardships she has lived through, including being homeless and not having food to eat while she pursued her musical career.
Personal life 
Ivy Queen was married to fellow reggaeton artist Omar Navarro, known by his stage name Gran Omar. They were divorced in 2005. Queen said she never found Omar in the act of adultery, and said that if she had, she would be in La Vega Alta—a women's prison in Puerto Rico. She also said she had not physically assaulted Omar's alleged mistress. She stated they had not lived together for two months, citing the "extensive travels of her husband and his workload of being a producer" as causes of the end of the nine-year marriage. A year after their separation, Omar said that Queen had tricked him, and that she owed him money from the sales and production of the album Cosa Nostra: Hip-Hop, which they presented together because of their obligations and contract with Univision. Jorge Guadalupe—Ivy Queen's manager—invited Omar to take legal action. Guadalupe called Omar "someone who misses the money and the high-life" he had while he was married to Queen. No legal action was taken, however. Omar appeared on television station Telefutura's program Escándalo TV and accused Queen of being unfaithful in their marriage. Queen however, denied the claims.
Queen was in a relationship with DJ Urba from mid-2006 to the end of 2007. In 2010, after Queen invited American actor Vin Diesel to attend 2010 Premios Juventud, it was rumored they were in a relationship together. She told Escándalo TV that there was no romance between them and that they were just good friends.
Ivy Queen has said she identifies with "Menor Que Yo"—a song where she was "talking about reality when she wrote it"—in her personal life. She said the song is about what happens to a lot of women. "I was talking about reality when I wrote it. About what happens to a lot of women. I think that there's no age requirement for two people who love each other. It's mostly about how people react when they see a mature woman who's with a younger man ... They think it's for money. They never think that there might be a connection, chemistry. She later said "Sentimientos" was the song that best represented her at that time, saying, " ... if you think you can only conquer me if you're famous, rich and have an expensive car, you're wrong, because I'm a woman who needs affection, someone to open the door for me, to bring me flowers and sing to me."
Queen does not drink alcohol. She said that although she quit high school after fourth year (eleventh grade), she graduated from the Academy "Street" with a Bachelor of Life and honors. She said her vocabulary is "that of the street", and that if she could do something other than singing she would go to college.
Studio albums 
- 1997: En Mi Imperio
- 1998: The Original Rude Girl
- 2003: Diva
- 2004: Real
- 2005: Flashback
- 2007: Sentimiento
- 2010: Drama Queen
- 2012: Musa
Awards & nominations 
See also 
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- "Ivy Queen y su historia de superación". El Universio. Compañia Anónima El Universio. 2008-05-01. Retrieved 2013-03-01.
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- Hay, Carla (1999-06-26). "Popular Uprisings: Billboard's Weekly Coverage of Hot Prospects for The Heatseekers Chart - Ivy League". Billboard. Retrieved 2012-12-08.
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- "The Roof Performance: Dile by Ivy Queen". Yahoo Music. Yahoo Inc. Retrieved 2013-02-14.
- Carney Smith, Jessie. Encyclopedia of African American Popular Culture. ABC-CLIO, 2010, p. 1199.
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- Leila Cobo (2005-06-25). "Two New Labels Emerge". Billboard. Retrieved 2012-12-18.
- Leila Cobo (2005-09-10). "Catch: Reggaeton Fever". Billboard. Retrieved 2012-12-18.
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- "3rd Annual ‘Premios Juventud’ Awards on Univision: A Wet and Wonderful Star Filled Night". Hispanic PR Wire. Hispanic Digital Network, Inc. July 13, 2006. Retrieved January 27, 2013.
- "Ivy Queen sacó las uñas". Univision (in Spanish). Univision Communications Inc. Retrieved 2012-11-28.
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