Tego Calderón

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Tego Calderón
Calderón performing in the Canary Islands, September 15, 2007.
Calderón performing in the Canary Islands, September 15, 2007.
Background information
Birth nameTegui Calderón Rosario
Born (1972-02-01) February 1, 1972 (age 49)
Santurce, Puerto Rico
OriginRío Grande, Puerto Rico
  • Rapper
  • singer
  • actor
Years active1996–present
Associated acts

Tegui Calderón Rosario (born February 1, 1972) is a Puerto Rican hip hop recording artist and actor. He began his musical career in 1996 (as Tego Tec) and was supported by the famous Puerto Rican rapper Eddie Dee, who invited him on his second studio album, El Terrorista De La Lírica, released in 2000. Calderón reached international success in 2003 with his first album, El Abayarde, which sold 300,000 copies worldwide and was nominated for a Latin Grammy Award. His importance in reggaeton music led him to participate in Eddie Dee's 12 Discípulos album in 2004. He released three more studio albums between 2006 and 2015, varying in styles, focusing more in hip hop and African music rather than reggaeton in The Underdog (2006) and El Abayarde Contraataca (2007). His fourth studio album, El Que Sabe, Sabe, released in 2015, won a Latin Grammy Award for Best Urban Music Album. In the same year, he announced that he is planning a studio album alongside the Puerto Rican reggaeton and pop singer Yandel titled El Blanco Y El Negro.

Tego is characterized by his social and political themes, with lyrics against Puerto Rican government, denouncing any corruption case. His themes also include dance, love, human-self reflection and personal experiences.

His film career started in 2007 with his supporting role in Illegal Tender. In 2009 he had a lead role in a short film called Los Bandoleros, which is part of The Fast and the Furious franchise, and in the same year he had a cameo appearance in the fourth installment of that franchise, Fast & Furious. In 2011 he had a supporting role in Fast Five alongside his colleague and friend Don Omar.

Early life[edit]

Calderón was born in Santurce, Puerto Rico. He is the son of Pilar Rosario Parrilla, a schoolteacher, and Esteban Calderón Ilarraza, a government worker for Puerto Rico's Department of Health.[1][2] Moving at a young age from his native Puerto Rico to Miami, Florida, Tego attended Miami Beach Senior High. Here he was exposed to several different cultures, eventually studying percussion and working as a drummer in a rock band. The band would cover songs produced by artists including Ozzy Osbourne and Led Zeppelin.[3] He has noted that both of his parents were fans of Ismael Rivera, and that his father was also interested in jazz. He was influenced by both genres and incorporated them into his music, including songs such as Minnie the Moocher. He eventually developed a music style that combined elements of salsa, plena, dancehall, and hip-hop, focusing on aspects of urban life in his lyrics.[4]

Early musical career[edit]

Tego Calderon originally began as a participant in Puerto Rican hip hop contests on television during the 1990s where many contemporary acts were discovered such as Eddie Dee, Wisin y Yandel among others... Though this led Tego to know Eddie Dee and DJ Adam whom would become his main collaborators during his most successful years, originally, Calderon was rejected by most producers and dj's at the time. DJ Adam in an interview with Puerto Rican podcast/YOUTUBE personality Chente Ydrach (click here to listen on itunes) revealed that Tego originally was going to be a part of the seminal classic underground album DJ Adam's 'Mad Jam' but Calderon's style was too eccentric and underdeveloped that he was taken out of the final tracklist.

Tego worked various jobs (notably as a mechanic) during his formative years while pursuing his dream of becoming a hip hop/reggaeton artist. Thanks to his friendship with Eddie Dee whom by the year 1999 had become one of the most successful and popular rappers in Puerto Rico, Tego is given a 2nd chance and signed to Eddie's label in 2000 along with the legendary company Boricua Guerrero (co-owned by White Lion founder Elias De Leon) whom were known as the first Latin hip hop/reggaeton label to collaborate with American hip hop acts such as Nas, Busta Rhymes and Big Punisher. The signing with Boricua Guerrero led to Tego's first hit on Puerto Rican radio in the year 2000, a hip hop collaoration with Eddie Dee known as "En Peligro De Extincion" from Eddie's 2nd album 'El Terrorista De La Lirica' now considered one of the classic hip hop/reggaeton albums in history.

Afterwards, Elias and Eddie Dee got Tego much work in popular compilation albums from the island when reggaeton first began expanding its territory out of the underground into more mainstream markets. From 2001-2002, Tego participated in over a dozen original compilations including gold and platinum albums such as "Kilates", "Boricuas NY" volumes 1 and 2, "The Majestic", "La Mision" volumes 2 and 3 and of course his first worldwide crossover hit 'Cosa Buena' from the "Planet Reggae" production distributed by White Lion Records and Diamond Music. On top of that, he also was featured in the albums of Yaga y Mackie "Sonando Diferente" and Maestro's "The Movie" which further accelerated his buzz in the streets.

Thanks to 'Cosa Buena' and it being one of the first reggaeton videos receiving major rotation on mainstream channels such as 'Telemundo', in 2002, Tego became a worldwide phenomenon before his debut album "El Abayarde" in November of that same year creating much hype for his debut. Despite only being available in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and parts of the United States due to White Lion Records (formerly known as Boricua Guerrero and now 100% under Elias De Leon's ownership) being an independent label at the time; Regardless, 'El Abayarde' became the first hip hop/reggaeton album by a solo artist to sell over 75,000 units in one week with no major label distribution. This success led to Tego and White Lion signing a joint venture with Sony Music Latin. Calderon formed his own label in the process known as Jiggiri Records under the White Lion banner and distributed by Sony Music Latin. Jiggiri Records would go on to sign and release multi-platinum albums from notable artists such as Zion y Lennox, Voltio and John Eric. Tego would go on to become one of the most successful touring acts in all of Latin music from 2003-2005, thus further legitimizing the genre now known as reggaeton (once called 'underground').

In August 2003, Calderón performed at the Madison Square Garden in New York City. Based on his show and performance, The New York Times noted that he "made the best case for Reggaetón as music with room to grow" being a "forward-looking performer."[5] His second appearance at the venue was in October 2004, where he headlined an event titled Megatón 2004. The concert sold out, with 20,000 in attendance, a mixed crowd of Latino and non-Latino fans.

Calderón's travels subsequently led him to Miami, where he incorporated dancehall elements into his musical style. In 2004, his album titled El Enemy de los Guasíbiri was released. The album's production included a mix of several urban genres. Calderón claimed that he preferred the influence of these other genres due to his belief that Salsa had "become too corporate and too safe". Years after its release, Calderón stated that he had never approved the release of the Guasibiri album, which he claimed was rather a collection of old songs and that it should be left out of his discography as an unauthorized album.[6] Following the release of this album, reggaeton gained more influence with several hip-hop producers in New York. Calderón continued working on several mixtapes, being featured in remixes of Usher's "Yeah", Fat Joe's "Lean Back", N.O.R.E.'s "Oye Mi Canto" and Akon's "I Wanna Love You", 50 Cent's P.I.M.P remix and also Tego featured Aventura's "We Got The Crown".


Tego Calderon at The Laredo Coliseum 2015

Calderón participated on the 2004 and 2005 editions of New York's Puerto Rican Day parade. During this timeframe he became the first Latin American artist to be included on New York's Power-105. Calderón's influence among Latin American youth was noted in a featured published by the Village Voice. The publication claimed that he had "almost single-handedly. .. steered his country’s dominant youth culture out of the island and Latino neighborhoods, and into the American stream of pop consciousness.”[5] Around this time Tego Calderon still remained a fixture in popular Latin music thanks to international hits such as the Don Omar led "Bandoleros" (notably included in The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift Soundtrack) and "Quitate Tu Pa Ponerme Yo" from Eddie Dee's "12 Discipulos" compilation album featuring a plethora of Spanish Hip Hop and Reggaeton stars such as Daddy Yankee, Ivy Queen, Zion y Lennox, Nicky Jam, among others...

In the summer of 2005, Calderón signed a joint venture deal between Atlantic Records and his own independent label, Jiggiri Records, for the amount of a million dollars as reported in the Hip Hop/Reggaeton publications of the time.[7] What was supposed to be the further expansion of Tego into the mainstream consciousness by signing with such a prestigious label, was met with harsh criticism from the Latino hip hop/reggaeton community as it seemed like Atlantic did not know what to do with Tego and he notably fell in popularity with the mainstream audience during the release and promotion of his follow-up to 'El Enemy De Los Guasibiri', the critically acclaimed and much hyped "The Underdog".

In 2006, Calderón and both companies published The Underdog/El Subestimado. He noted that the production includes influence from several Afro-Caribbean rhythms including reggae, salsa, bomba and rumba. This production featured the guests appearances of Buju Banton, Voltio, Bataklán, Eddie Dee, Luis Cabán, Yandel, Zion, Chyno Nyno, Don Omar and Oscar D'León. Several producers were involved in the album, including Cookee, Major League, Salaam Remi, Eric Figueroa, Luny Tunes, DJ Nelson, Danny Fornaris, Nesty La Mente Maestra, Naldo, DJ Joe, DJ Fat, Echo & Diesel.

Tego still remained a popular touring act throughout the Latino music world where even today, he continues to travel and perform to large international audiences. This relevance in clandestine markets kept Tego in the public consciousness throughout Latin America, outselling and outperforming most Latin acts in concert revenues to this day.

Musical styles and themes[edit]

Although Calderón is a reggaeton artist, he claims to like "all types of music".[8] Evidence of this is seen both in his biography (he began his career in music in a heavy metal band and attended a school for music as a drummer) as well as in his music, which incorporates "'several musical tendencies'", including sounds and rhythms from places like Africa, Colombia, and the Caribbean. He obtains the sound for his popular reggaeton music through "fusing an experimental reggaeton style strongly rooted in the working-class Caribbean aesthetics of classic salsa with a strong dose of hip-hop".[9] On The Underdog/El Subestimado, he collaborated with rap duo Anónimo Consejo to create a song entitled "Son Dos Alas" which eventually was shortened to an interlude without Calderón.

Calderón has also been praised for his lyrics, which are much more substantive and uplifting with much social consciousness rather than the {mislabeled} misogynistic and material words that most misinformed mainstream outlets and audiences associate reggaeton and Spanish hip hop with. Calderón has been described as "the reggaeton champion of an Afro-Caribbean working-class aesthetic" and is known for lyrics that are equal parts poetry and politics.[9] A consistent link between all of his albums "are the social themes and the untouchable bravado that he usually transmits through his artistic outlook."[8] According to Tony Touch (legendary hip hop dj and collaborator), "Tego is someone who represents struggle, an underdog... He's more of an MC, a product of late-'80s hip-hop."[10] Regardless, Tego is not a stranger to the popular 'perreo' (reggaeton dancing) and club songs well associated with the culture and musical genre he represents. Songs such as "Cosa Buena", "Metele Sazon", and "Pa Que Retozen" are a testament to the artist's versatility.

Tego is known for standing out in comparison to most reggaeton acts in that he is well known for incorporating lyricism in the form of punchlines and metaphors from traditional hip hop into the reggaeton and "dembow" rhythms of his more pop influenced club songs. This is very uncommon in modern reggaeton as most performers today have very simple lyrics that are often not meant to be thought provoking, witty or insightful. Much of reggaeton's subdued lyrics are due to artists such as Daddy Yankee purposefully simplifying their lyrical content in order to appeal to a much more pop-oriented mainstream audience due to the fact traditional reggaeton and Spanish hip hop is foreign to most people. Tego is more in tune with the culture's roots and influenced by the lyricism and social consciousness of artists such as Vico C, Eddie Dee, and Nach Scratch.

Tego Calderon is one of the few artists in the genre respected for his contributions by the academy and music critics outside of the traditional Spanish Hip Hop/Reggaeton circles. He is often cited as the artist whom bridged the gap between the mainstream and underground audiences of reggaeton's early underground days. Most experts consider him among the greatest Latino mc's of all-time next to greats such as Vico C, Kase-O, and Nach. To this day, Tego Calderon continues to be one of the most influential artists in all of Latin music, not just hip hop and reggaeton.

Film and other career projects[edit]

Calderón made his acting debut in the film "Illegal Tender" produced by John Singleton. Calderon played the role of Choco, a Puerto Rican gangster whose character was written specifically for him by director Franc. Reyes.[3][11]

Calderón turned down roles in both Feel the Noise and "El Cantante" and instead chose to appear in Illegal Tender out of respect for its producer. After convincing John Singleton that he wanted to appear in a comedy, Calderón is slated to appear in an upcoming Singleton film which casts him as the coach of a baseball team.[3]

Calderón traveled to Sierra Leone along with artists Raekwon and Paul Wall to film a VH1 documentary about diamond mining entitled "Bling'd: Blood, Diamonds, and Hip-Hop." The documentary focused on the role of Hip Hop in the blood diamond trade, after the filming concluded Calderón publicly announced that he would no longer wear jewelry. His experience in Africa also changed his outlook on life, which influenced the recording of the track "Alegria", encouraging fans to not complain about life and recognize that there are other people with bigger problems in their lives.[12]

Calderon and Don Omar are featured in Fast & Furious and Fast Five, the fourth and fifth installments of The Fast and the Furious franchise.[13][14]


Studio albums
  • The Original Gallo Del País - O.G. El Mixtape (2012)
Compilation albums

Awards and nominations[edit]

American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers Latin Music Awards
Year Nominee / work Award Result Ref.
2004 «Al Natural» Hip hop/Rap/Reggaeton Song of the Year Won [15]
2009 «Quitarte To'» (featuring Randy) Urban Song of the Year Won [16]
Grammy Awards
Year Nominee / work Award Result Ref.
2007 The Underdog/El Subestimado Best Latin Rock, Alternative or Urban Album Nominated [17]
2008 El Abayarde Contraataca Best Latin Urban Album Nominated [18]
Latin Grammy Awards
Year Nominee / work Award Result Ref.
2003 El Abayarde Best Urban Music Album Nominated [19]
2008 El Abayarde Contraataca Nominated [20]
«Ni Fu Ni Fa» Best Urban Song Nominated
2012 "Calentura" (with ChocQuibTown and Zully Murillo) Record of the Year Nominated [21]
The Original Gallo del País Best Urban Music Album Nominated
2015 El Que Sabe, Sabe Won [22]
«Dando Break» Best Urban Song Nominated


Year Title Role Notes
2007 Def Jam: Icon Himself Video game, voice only
2007 Illegal Tender Choco Film Debut
2007 Bling: A Planet Rock Himself Documentary film / DVD
2009 Fast & Furious Leo Tego Cameo
2009 Los Bandoleros Leo Tego Short film
2011 Fast Five Leo Tego Supporting Role
2017 The Fate of the Furious Leo Tego Cameo

Video games[edit]

Year Title Role
2007 Def Jam Icon Himself (voice)
2013 Fast & Furious: Showdown Leo Tego (voice)


  1. ^ http://latinmusic.about.com/od/artists/p/PRO01TEGOC.htm
  2. ^ http://www.iblnews.com/story.php?id=31140
  3. ^ a b c Latin Rap Interview – "Tego Calderón Part II: El Abayarde Strikes Back"
  4. ^ Barrio305.com.(1987)
  5. ^ a b "Tego Calderon – Bio". Atlantic Records. Archived from the original on 2005-11-26. Retrieved 2007-09-10.
  6. ^ Latin Rap Interview – "Tego Calderon Represents for the Underdogs"
  7. ^ Latin Rap News – "Tego Calderon Signs Global Deal with Atlantic"
  8. ^ a b [1] Albert Perez. "Tego Calderón visits Latino 96.3" Accessed January 31, 2008. www.latino963.lamusica.com
  9. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-12-21. Retrieved 2007-12-17.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) Frances Negrón-Muntaner and Raquel Z. Rivera, "Reggaeton Nation" (17 December 2007) Accessed January 31, 2008. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-10-20. Retrieved 2008-02-01.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ Village Voice – Riddims by the Reggaeton
  11. ^ Illegal Tender movie review
  12. ^ Latin Rap Interview – "Tego Calderon Part II: El Abayarde Strikes Back"
  13. ^ Black Pride Archived 2008-09-15 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ [2]
  15. ^ "12th Annual ASCAP Latin Awards: Complete List of Winners". American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. March 11, 2004. Retrieved July 30, 2016.
  16. ^ "17th Annual ASCAP Latin Awards: Urban Winners". American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. March 3, 2009. Retrieved July 30, 2016.
  17. ^ "49th annual Grammy nominations list — part 2". Variety. December 7, 2006. Retrieved May 5, 2016.
  18. ^ "The Complete List of Grammy Nominees". New York Times. December 6, 2007. Retrieved May 5, 2016.
  19. ^ "The nominees are ..." Los Angeles Times. July 23, 2003. Retrieved May 5, 2016.
  20. ^ "Nominados a los Latin Grammy 2008" (in Spanish). Qué!accessdate=May 5, 2016.
  21. ^ "Grammy Latinos 2012: Lista de nominados a los Premios" (in Spanish). Qué!. November 15, 2012. Retrieved May 5, 2016.
  22. ^ "WINNERS 16th Annual Latin GRAMMY Awards". Latin Grammy. Retrieved May 5, 2016.

External links[edit]