This Puerto Rican Rapper is So Confident in His Skills, He Doesn’t Need a Stage Name

Daddy Yankee, Don Omar and Wisin & Yandel dominated the Puerto Rican music scene for years and made reggaetón mainstream. But Boricua rapper Álvaro Díaz is breaking away from the dem bow flow to forge a rap career with a progressive sound.

By all appearances, his risk looks to be paying off. Here’s why:

He’s Somewhere in Between Daddy Yankee and Vico C

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Reggaetón hasn’t evolved much over the last decade, opening a window for artists like Díaz to break new ground. While he’s not afraid to show his roots, Diaz’s sound borrows more from the rap flows of Vico C than the dem bow of early Daddy Yankee.

He’s Gettin’ Love From All the Right Places

Credit: Noisey / YouTube

These days, having your music video premiere on Noisey is the late ’90s equivalent of getting picked up by MTV. Landing a little attention from one of the fountains of modern counter-culture never hurts.

Diaz Creates a Sound Many in the Game Can’t Pull Off

Credit: yoAlvaroDiaz / YouTube

Diaz bounces from rap to reggaetón and then to progressive urban beats. Go back and listen to hazy, blunted-out sound of “Mañana.” Who else is riding beats like that?

His Live Band is Bananas

#?# SOUNDCHECK.

A video posted by Álvaro Díaz (@alvaritodiaz) on

Yeah, that’s “Mañana” with live drums and guitars. ???

He’s Not Your Average Cocky Rapper

Credit: HypeCityMX / YouTube

Watch just a few minutes of this interview and it’s clear Díaz sets himself apart by maintaining a humble public persona. It’s a welcome alternative to the machismo other hip-hop hopefuls lean on so heavily to make it big.

He Was One of the Standout Latino MCs at SXSW 2015

There’s so much music at SXSW that many acts get lost in the shuffle. But Diaz proved he’s got the chops by turning heads at a SXSW showcase and getting named Best Latin MC at SXSW 2015 by Pulso Beat.

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He’s Got a Clear Artistic Vision

Credit: yoAlvaroDiaz / YouTube

Whether or not he’s trying to resurrect the kung fu-meets-the-hood style popularized by Wu-Tang, this trailer for Diaz’s Hato Rey mixtape shows that he’s crafting an aesthetic, not just creating music.

He Shows Love to Fellow Latino Artists

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Photo Credit: Álvaro Díaz / Facebook

The rap game can be so cutthroat that some choose not to show love for their peers. Whether its a collab or a photo op, Díaz always seems to show love to the talented Latinos he shares the spotlight with.

He’s Got Big Dreams

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Photo Credit: Álvaro Díaz / Facebook

It’s hard not to root for someone with healthy ambition, and Díaz has plenty of it if he counts Madison Square Garden as one of the venues he hopes to headline.

He Calls Himself the “People’s Champion”and Lives By It

GRACIAS. #SanturceEsLey ? x @cesarberrios13

A photo posted by Álvaro Díaz (@alvaritodiaz) on

You can’t be the people’s champ if you don’t have the support of the people. The love that Diaz shows his fans is plenty evidence of that he knows what’s up.

He Puts in Work… and Then Keeps Putting in More Work

When the recording studio is your second home, it’s hard not to think a breakout is inevitable — because there’s no substitute for the grind.