The Story of Reggaeton Royalty Ivy Queen
June 20, 2005
Puerto Rico, “La Isla Del Encanto” (“The Island of Enchantment”). With such rich history and beautiful scenery, this small piece of paradise in the Caribbean seems like a suitable backdrop for a great story. And this just happens to be the case; the great story of Reggaeton music, and one of its’ central characters - Ivy Queen. Urban America had an opportunity build with the Queen and learn a little more about her latest album, her vision, and her empire.
Reggaeton is traditional dancehall reggae’s Spanish-speaking cousin. For over 15 years, this genre has been slowly bubbling in the Caribbean underground and urban centers throughout the Americas. Now, Reggaeton is gaining international recognition as the dominant voice of urban Latinos in the western hemisphere. With over 11 years in the game herself, Ivy Queen has become on of Reggaeton’s most influential ambassador’s. Scratch that, she is the reigning monarch!
Born Martha Pesante in a small town in PR, Ivy Queen recalls conveying her vision and ambition to her mother at an early age about pursuing her destiny in music; “I told my mom that I was going to move to the Big City to follow my dreams in music… All she could do was give me her blessings, because she knew there was nothing anyone could say to stop me.” This drive to show and prove has taken her from the humble barrios of PR to performing through out the world representing the Reggaeton sound to the fullest. In fact, Urban America’s interview with the Queen was conducted as she waited at Miami International Airport to catch her plane to perform in Central America.
In 2004, Ivy Queen’s most recent hit single was Yo Quiero Bailar, which obtained major spins on radio and clubs throughout the U.S. Making radio and club hits seem to come naturally for the Queen, which is how the U.S. market first heard of the Queen. Around the Mid-90’s, Ivy first came to the attention of the non-Caribbean masses by her collabo on a song with Wyclef Jean. The single gained a big buzz in New York, Miami, and other largely-Latin U.S. cities. So how did she link up with the Preacher’s Son? Ivy had attended a Clef concert in PR, as she says “just as a fan.” She goes on to say about the fateful encounter, “I was in the crowd with the other fans, and Wyclef started freestyling on stage and challenging people in the crowd to come up and flow… All my friends kept pushing me to get on stage, so eventually I did… Wyclef was really into the battling so he didn’t notice when I got on stage, that’s until I started to flow… He was literally shocked! He turned around and told me to do what I had just done, because he didn’t believe that was actually me on the mic… So I kept flowing and we just clicked.” Originally, Ivy was supposed to appear on Clef’s Gone Till November remix, however circumstance did not allow this to happen. The pair eventually met up several months later in New York City, where they were both performing at a concert at Madison Square Garden, and the events that followed led to their collaboration.
Her latest album, Real, on Perfect Image Records, is expected to raise the bar for Reggaeton music as a whole. How does she describe her latest project? “Super Super Rico!” Besides having her Reggaeton comrades such a Rafy Mercenario, Mickey Perfecto, and La India from PR, she has enlisted hip-hop heavyweights Fat Joe and Swizz Beatz as featured guests. “I basically approached this album from a fan’s perspective… I try to give them as much as I can so they feel like they got their money’s worth” says Ivy of her method on this release. Her dedication to pleasing her fans is based on a genuine appreciation of their dedication her; “I have nothing but love for the fans… They allow me to do what I do best and let me bring home my daily bread.”
With over a decade of putting in work, several hit album releases, traveling the world on tour, and the insight that comes along with being a successful woman in a largely male-dominated genre, Ivy has developed a unique perspective on Reggaeton and the urban Latin phenomenon as a whole; “This music has grown so much in the last couple of years, and I just see it expanding even more… We are selling a lot of units not just in the U.S. and Latin America, but everywhere… I’ve been in the music game for 11 years, and I know other’s who have been doing it for almost 20 years, and its just now that these great opportunities are being presented… The key is to stay focused.” Another piece of advice the Queen wants to share with others who want to pursue their passion is, “You have to take what you do serious… You have to work, sweat, and sacrifice… With this music thing, you can’t just take it as a hobby and think you’re going to make a bunch of money to buy some shoes or whatever… All your benefits come later, but for now, you have to work and sacrifice.”
Don’t blink…Watch carefully… because the plot on the story of the reigning Queen of Reggaeton has just started to pop off!
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