Reykon's 15-year career has paved the way for Colombian artists like J. Balvin and Karol G. Now, he's heating up the summer with "Latina."
International artist Reykon knew that he would one day be like Daddy Yankee. All it took was attending his concert years ago in Colombia, his native country, to motivate him. “I hadn’t started singing,” he tells People CHICA. “I would freestyle with my friends because I loved hip-hop, but when I saw Daddy Yankee for the first time on stage I said, ‘That’s what I’m going to be in life.'”
Ironically, he became the first Colombian artist to collaborate with the “Gasolina” rapper, dominating U.S. charts with collaborations like “Señorita” and “Imaginándote.” With an extensive 15-year career, Reykon is regarded as one of the pioneers of the reggaeton movement in Colombia, paving the way for artists like Maluma and Karol G.
The 32-year-old recently joined forces with Maluma to write “Latina.” The track, a love letter to Latin American beauties, was produced by Tenso Beats, Black Angels and Chez Tom. “What’s happening right now with my single ‘Latina’ is beautiful,” he says. “It’s had an incredible response. I’m appreciative upon hearing the positive comments and the numbers it was making in just two weeks.”
Though born on a different continent, Reykon grew up listening to American greats like Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg and the Wu-Tang Clan. “I grew up listening to everyone, and today all those influences remain in my head when I’m going to work on something,” he says.
As one of the pioneers in the Colombian reggaeton scene, Reykon and his peers were not always embraced with open arms in their early years. “We’ve always been consistently working [while still] being the topic of many jokes,” he explains. The reggaeton genre is associated with Puerto Rican culture, having originated among Puerto Rican and Panamanian communities in New York City and on the island. “Oh, he, thinks he’s Puerto Rican,” he says detractors would say.
For urbanos in Colombia, Puerto Rican artists like Daddy Yankee who crossed over in the early 2000s were the epitome of what they wanted to reach: international stardom. “Look, we were always steps behind Puerto Ricans,” he explains. “For us, they were the professors — it’s undeniable. We always recognize it wherever we stop.”
Though urbano artists are more accepted today, that wasn’t always the case. The genre has similar stigmas to those like that rap and hip-hop have in the U.S. Criticized for the explicit language in their lyrics, many Spanish-language rappers have had to tone it down in order to achieve international success. “We are [explicit], that’s undeniable,” explains Reykon. As both a fan of the music and a father, he admits it’s his social responsibility — and only his — to teach his daughter right from wrong. This includes explaining lyrics to his daughter. “I’m not going to give my responsibility to Bad Bunny,” he says. “I’m going to listen to Bad Bunny and explain things to her. He does not have to raise my daughter — I am the one who has the responsibility to construct my family. That’s the base of society. People should pay attention to their homes rather than blaming me because my music is a little direct.”
The influence and power the culture has is straightforward, according to Reykon. “I say urbano is one of the industries that creates the most jobs, so why are we going to criticize it if it’s doing so many positive things?”
Since “Latina,” the artist has also been featured alongside Pedro Capó and ICON in the song “Como lo Hiciste Ayer.” This particular moment in Reykon’s life consists of a consistent work schedule and no sleep, but he finds it’s what most benefits him: “The feedback is amazing when you’re working hard, dropping good music and performing great shows.”