11 Of Your Favorite Reggaetoneros Then And Now

Perhaps more than any other pop music genre reggaeton is full of rags-to-riches stories, kids from the urban US or from Latin American countries who find their calling as artists, work hard and become famous. Because the genre calls for the creation of tough-looking personas, many reggaetoneros might seem menacing at first, but are often tame creative types who use their imagination to write lyrics and construct a character. At the end, however, they are all humans who were once kids or just normal cabrones far from the fame they now embrace.

Here’s 11 reggaetoneros and their looks way before they were on the spotlight.

1. Maluma

Credit: 1473892681_500340_1473893192_album_normal. Digital image. Los 40 Principales.

Juan Luis Londoño Arias was born in 1994 and has one sister. When he was a kid he showed interest in soccer and even played in lower divisions for the teams Atlético National and Equidad Sports Club in his native Colombia.

Credit: Instagram. @Maluma.

He is now one of the most popular artists in the world, regardless of language. Not bad for a kid who was once inspired by the likes of suave performers Justin Timberlake and Michael Jackson.

2. Pitbull

Credit: dt.common.streams.StreamServer. Digital image. El Heraldo

Armando Christian Pérez was born in Miami in 1981, in a family of Cuban expatriates. He loved classic Cuban poetry when he was a kid, and was famous for reciting poems in Spanish.

Credit: Instagram. @Pitbull

He is now a global celebrity and has struck sponsorship deals with the likes of Kodak and Dr Pepper. He is active in the Cuban community in Miami. He is also testing his luck as a television producer and is working with Endemol, the Dutch company responsible for the Big Brother reality show concept.

3. Daddy Yankee

Credit: Daddy-Yankee. Digital image. Kienyke.

Ramón Luis Ayala Rodríguez was born in the beautiful island of Puerto Rico in 1977. His first love was baseball and he was bound to become a professional pelotero, but he was shot on a leg and his sporting dreams were over.

Credit: Instagram. @daddyyankee

He is considered one of the precursors of the genre. He has quite a political voice, and in 2008 endorsed John McCain because he considered the late Arizona senator supported Latino causes.

4. Yandel

Credit: Yandel. Digital image. Kienyke

Llandel Veguilla Malave was born in Carey, Puerto Rico, in 1977. Like many singers he learnt a trade before taking on the stage. His was being a barber… and it is evident if you notice his meticulously trimmed facial hair!

Credit: Instagram. @Yandel

He has made a name for himself both as a solo artist and as part of the super successful duo Wisin & Yandel.

5. J Balvin

Credit: dt.common.streams.StreamServer (1). Digital image. El Heraldo

José Álvaro Osorio Balvin was born in 1985 in Medellin, Colombia. He came from a middle-class family that faced bankruptcy. In order to pursue his American Dream he worked as a painter and construction worker in the States.

Credit: Instagram. @jbalvin

In just eight years he has released five albums that have positioned him as one of the most popular performers in the genre.

6. Austin Santos/Arcángel

Credit: Santos. Digital image. Kienyke

Austin Agustín Santos goes by the stage name of Arcángel. He was born in New York in 1985 and then moved to Puerto Rico, where he got his musical juices flowing.

Credit: santos-austin-image. Digital image. Famous Birthdays.

He is one of the precursors of the movement. In 2008 he faced the challenge of illegal file sharing and he had to cancel the release of an album. This is one of the realities of the music industry today.

7. Bad Bunny

Credit: Instagram. @badbunnypr

Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio was born in 1994 in Puerto Rico. He knows how to create and sustain a brand, as he studied audiovisual communication at university. His education translates into an interesting and cohesive style.

Credit: Instagram. @badbunnypr

He started right from the bottom. He released indy recordings while working as a bagger in a supermarket. But perseverance paid off when DJ Luian listened to one of his songs on SoundCloud and signed him to his level. Dreams do come true.

8. Luis Fonsi

Credit: 1502525419-fonsi. Digital image. T13

Luis Alfonso Rodríguez López-Cepero is responsible for one of the most popular songs of all time, “Despacito”. He was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in 1978. He used to sing at school parties with a group… one of the members, Joey Fatone, later joined NSYNC

Credit: Instagram. @luisfonsi

Fonsi is also an actor. He appeared in the 1992 film Como agua para chocolate, which marked the beginning of the New Mexican Cinema era. When talent rains, it pours.

9. Residente (René Pérez Joglar)

Credit: rene-perez, Digital image. La Patilla.

Who would have said that this cheeky boy would become one of the fiercest songwriters of the modern era. Residente’s mother was part of a theater company, which perhaps had an influence in her son’s elaborate stage performances. Calle 13 is famous for taking performance to the  next level and having a concise audiovisual style with music videos by directors like the Argentine Campanella and actor-director Diego Luna.

Credit: MI0004227971. Digital image. All Music

The angriest half of Calle 13 is an active advocate for indigenous and migrant rights, which is often revealed in songs such as “El Hormiguero” and the epic “Latinoamérica”. He has give voice to the vulnerable. He doesn’t hold back from speaking his truth, and has been a vocal critic of the Trump administration and of neoliberal governments in Latin America.

10. Visitante (Eduardo José Cabra Martínez)

Credit: 84120c2d5fafbbdb7a79d3d7faa8755e3d8a0a46_hq. Digital image. Amino Apps.

Look at those two! Calle 13 wouldn’t be what it is without Residente’s brother. He was born in 1978 in Santurce, Puerto Rico. Since he was a little kid he had deep political inclinations. He was once kicked out of his classroom because he refused to honor the US anthem… he believes Puerto Rico should be independent,  a plight that many in the island’s intellectual circles have.

Credit: foto_0000000120170731231853. Digital image. Cooperativa

He is a versatile musician who researches Latin American sounds with the tenacity of an anthropologist. Some of his strongest influences are Panamanian salsa master Ruben Blades and Cuban troubadour Silvio Rodriguez. In a way, Visitante goes beyong reggaeton and enters folk music territory.

11. Tomasa del Real

Credit: Instagram. @Tomasadelreal

Her name is Valeria Cisternas and she hails from Chile, where she was born in 1986. Her stage name is inspired by Afro-Latin Americans. She has said that she feels both masculine and feminine, which transpires in her style. The above picture is from one of her first YouTube videos, which made her a social media celebrity in her own right.

Credit: Instagram. @Tomasadelreal

She is widely considered one of the queens of Neoperreo, a subgenre in which women have a more empowering position. This is a lot for a genre that is infamous for taking violence against women lighter than it should.

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The Evolution Of Reggaeton In The 2010s: From ‘Despacito’ To ‘Te Bote’, This Is How Latinx Music Turned Into A Global Phenomenon


The Evolution Of Reggaeton In The 2010s: From ‘Despacito’ To ‘Te Bote’, This Is How Latinx Music Turned Into A Global Phenomenon

Reggaeton has infected the whole world with dembow, signaling a whole era of Latinx representation in mainstream culture. The infectious Latin Caribbean’s particular take on dancehall reggae has become a global movement that artists from all over the world want a part in. During this decade reggaeton has galloped into the Anglo-world, its flow has been Americanized, Europeanized, watered-down, dressed-up and recomposed to fit a thousand new contexts. So let’s look back on the last ten years to see how the genre has changed and what has become of the rhythm we all love. 

The decade started with a heavy EDM influence, case in point, Juan Magan’s 2011 album ‘Bailando Por Ahi’ or Don Omar’s hit, ‘Hasta que salga el Sol’.

The rhythm made inroads into the more frequently foursquare sound of EDM. The early 2010s were an EDM boom, a movement that established pulsating, treble-soaked electronic dance as not only the dominant form of crowd-pleasing live music, but the contemporary lingua franca for all of pop, and the default mode of the Top 40 back in the day. So it’s no surprise that reggaeton took in some of that influence to produce ‘Electrolatino’, music. The vivacious melodic reggaeton mixed with hard-hitting electronic beats saw its highest moment in 2015 with Bomba Estereo’s ‘Fiesta’ —the song even brought Will Smith out of a decade-long music hiatus when he reached out to the band to lend his voice for a remix.

Fast forward to 2017 and Daddy Yankee is featured on Luis Fonsi’s chart-busting hit, Despacito, making way for another reggaeton revolution.

By2018, the song’s unprecedented commercial success had even garnered Fonsi Guinness World Records recognition: it spent 16 weeks at No. 1 in the Billboard charts (a feat only topped by Old Town Road). It became the most-streamed song worldwide and was the first YouTube video to hit five billion views. And that was only the beginning.

Reggaeton’s latest commercial iterations rely heavily on trap and pop, harnessed by chart-topping artists like J Balvin, Ozuna and Arcangel.

 It’s upped the dancehall quotient at times, and dialled it down, incorporated more or less of its fundamental rhythm, dembow, and even spawned surprise mutations, like when Bad Bunny’s Tenemos Que Hablar folded in touches of pop-punk.

Halfway through the 2010s, Latin Trap, began to gain notoriety. 

instagram @badbunnypr

The less dominant wing of Spanish-language hip hip began to surge as a response to developments in American rap, it embraced the slow-rolling rhythms and gooey vocal delivery of Southern hip-hop. 

Now a variety of artists associated with the movement are riding high.

instagram @chrisjeday

Five of the Top 30 music videos on YouTube’s chart of 2017 involved artists associated with Latin trap – Bad Bunny, Chris Jeday, Karol G. Bad Bunny, the sound’s best-known proponent, also appeared three times in the Top 25 of Billboard’s Hot Latin Songs chart on the same year. “It goes beyond trap: the music we call ‘Latin urban’ is now diversifying into many different forms,” Horacio Rodriguez, VP of Marketing for Universal Music Latino, said to Rolling Stone magazine. “It’s popping in the streets right now with zero radio airplay. It’s a counter-culture of young kids listening to this music.”

Older stars stampeded to endorse the latest style, boosting its mainstream exposure. 

instagram @jbalvin

The Colombian superstar J Balvin’s Energia album contained songs like “35 Pa Las 12,” a booming, American-rap-radio-ready collaboration with the Dominican singer/rapper Fuego. Farruko’s record dropped around the same time was titled TrapXFicante. Maluma, a supple pop-reggaeton heartthrob, anchored the hook of the Trap Capos single “Cuatro Babys,” which skyrocketed him to fame. 

Bad Bunny, the undisputed champion of Latin trap, sings and raps with an unhurried, conversational tone.

The video to San Benito’s hit “Soy Peor” now has 703 million views. He can do a song with Drake, he can do a song with Travis scott, he’s the guy who’s taken ‘Latin Trap’ mainstream. His music is a rich tapestry of trap, reggaeton and bachata. He can feature Ricky Martin on a self-love anthem, and with Solo de Mi, Bad Bunny fortified the song’s affecting lyrics with a message of solidarity with domestic abuse survivors in its music video. Most notably, though, his work is praised for its unabashed emotional vulnerability and, paired with Bad Bunny’s meticulous manicures and eccentric, neon-hued fashion sense, he’s presented male reggaetoneros in a different light altogether. 

Reggaeton and Urbano are, in some corners, also running parallel to the #MeToo movement.

Artists like Natti Natasha, Karol G and Becky G are flipping the genre’s overt male-narrated sexuality to the female POV, reclaiming agency with each beat.

The various styles that encompass música urbana —hip-hop, reggaetón, dembow, and champeta, to name a few— have reached a critical mass in the Americas.

Música urbana is American music. The loosely defined term encapsulates Spanish-language “urban” music with roots in the culture of descendants of enslaved peoples across North, South, and Central America. Toward the end of the decade, the genre became a worldwide sound, an art recognized by some of pop’s biggest stars. From Drake, to Beyonce and Cardi B, all have acknowledged the power and the audience of ‘urbano’. 

Language is no longer a barrier for its mainstream consumption. 

Any discussion of música urbana in 2019 inevitably begins with it’s biggest stars, the holy trinity atop the YouTube charts: J Balvin, Bad Bunny, and Ozuna. They were the three most-streamed artists in the world on YouTube in 2018. Which goes to show that the myth that Spanish language as a barrier to mainstream consumption has also been obliterated —according to a report from the music consumption company BuzzAngle, last year “Latin” music (measured by physical and digital sales as well as on-demand streams) represented 9.4 percent of listening in the U.S., overtaking country music (8.7 percent). 

Reggaeton is a fountain of joy for many, it offers close dancing and unrepentant sexuality as a form of catharsis. And as its prominence rose, spreading to other Latin American countries, the US, and ultimately the whole world, the genre became an unmatchable source of pride for Latinxs. This was the decade Latinxs demanded space and reggaeton became truly visible –and we invited the world the ride, one perreo intenso at a time. 

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Latino Celebrities Before And After: These Photos Will Leave You Wondering What’s Real In Life


Latino Celebrities Before And After: These Photos Will Leave You Wondering What’s Real In Life

Yes, at some point or another celebrities were like us ‘normal’ people. It’s always nice to see celebrities sharing their photos from the past on the internet because it proves that we all have to start somewhere. Here’s a couple of celebrity throwbacks that will make you look twice. 

Bad Bunny 

Credit: badbunnypr / Instagram

Ba-Ba-Ba-Baby Bad Bunny! The Latin trap star shared a picture of himself as a child on Instagram and it’s absolutely precious! His curly hair is totally non-existent now as he shaves his hair into that recognizable v-shape we all know and love. 

Becky G

Credit: iambeckyg / Instagram

At a young age, Becky G knew she was going to be a star! If you dive into the depths of YouTube, you’ll stumble across Becky G’s videos from eight years ago. From teenager to mujer, we saw Becky G grow up in to one of the most popular artists. Before entering the Latin music scene, Becky G’s greatest hit was “Shower,” which was released 5 years ago. 


Credit: Maluma / Instagram

Maluma BABY! The Colombian singer recently shared a picture of himself as a kid that will make you say ‘awww, que lindo.’ There are people that look nothing like their younger selves, but there are others who still have that same baby face⁠—Maluma is one of them. Despite the beard and dyed hair, the youthful expression on his face remains. 

Cardi B 

Credit: iamcardib / Instagram

Ah yes, the picture of Cardi B as a young girl that went viral as a meme for all the right reasons! First, Cardi B was a super cute kid. Second, the picture of her, hand on her hip and forcing a smile, is relatable. We’ve all been in that kind of situation as a kid. On top of all of this, Cardi B still looks the same and the sass she served when she was 5-years-old has only magnified. 

J Balvin 

Credit: JBalvin / Instagram

J Balvin is almost unrecognizable in this picture! However, his nose really gives it away. Throughout the years, J Balvin’s hair has seen an evolution of its own. From afro, to short, and even a bright pink, we have seen his hair change drastically. 

Karol G

Credit: karolg / Instagram

This a a double before and after, can you guess why? J Balvin is also in this picture. Before they both became the stars that they are now, the two sang together at a party hosted by Karol G’s family. What a small world, right? Although Karol G looks noticeably younger in the photo, a lot of her features have remained the same. 

Jaime Camil

Credit: Televisa

Look at that hair! Before becoming Rogelio De La Vega on the popular show, “Jane the Virgin,” Jaime Camil was a big celebrity on Mexican television; he starred in the well-known telenovela “La Fea más Bella.” 

America Ferrera

The movies that come to mind when I think of America Ferrera are a “Real Women have Curves” and “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.” Since then, Ferrera has come a long way in her career. She is also into activism and in 2007, she was named as one of Time magazine’s Most Influential People. 

Sofia Vergara

Credit: sofiavergara / Instagram

Sofia Vergara recently shared this throwback picture of herself in Miami Beach, Florida. The now 47-year-old has aged gracefully, not looking that different compared to when she was 18. 

Diane Guerrero 

Credit: dianexguerrero / Instagram

Looks familiar? “Orange is the New Black” star, Diane Guerrero, mirrored her childhood photograph for the cover of her memoir, “In the Country we Love.” The two images, side-by-side, are a reminder of the youth Guerrero lost due to the deportation of her family. Guerrero has become a well-known actress that advocates for the rights of immigrants. 


Credit: Shakira / Instagram

These hips don’t lie and Shakira does not look a day over 40. In this picture, Shakira is 21 years old and she still has the same care-free and youthful look. Kind of hoping we see the red hair make a come back one day. 

Natti Natasha

Natti Natasha looks unrecognizable in this picture! If she wouldn’t have posted this, I would have never guessed that this was a throwback of the Dominican singer. 

Jennifer Lopez

Credit: JLo / Instagram

It goes without saying, Jennifer Lopez has aged like the finest wine ever existed. J.Lo recently turned 50 and went all out to celebrate in style. 


Mr. Worldwide, took to Instagram to share a super cute photo of himself with his mother. 

Zoe Saldana

Can you spot Zoe Saldana? She’s the little girl on the far left. Saldana looks a lot like her mother, proving that it’s all the genes. 

Lupita Nyong’o

Lupita Nyong’o had bangs way before they became popular. In the Instagram caption, Nyong’o gives a shout-out to her fuller eyebrows. #ThickBrowsForTheWin!

We all went through our awkward stages (some more so than others) ⁠— it’s a fact of life. Also, transformations don’t happen over night! It takes time to find the right style for you. 

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