Tegui Calderón Rosario (born February 1, 1972) is a Puerto Rican singer-songwriter and actor.
Calderón was born in Santurce, Puerto Rico, the son of Pilar Rosario Parrilla, a schoolteacher, and Esteban Calderón Ilarraza, a government worker for Puerto Rico's Department of Health. 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. 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.
Early musical career
Calderón made several cameo appearances on other rapper's albums, eventually signing with label White Lion. In 2002, after three years of voice training, he published his first full-length album titled El Abayarde. Despite the fact that Reggaeton was considered an underground genre, the album sold 50,000 copies upon its release, setting a sales record for an urban music album. Three months after publishing El Abayarde, Calderón organized his first concert, which took place at the Roberto Clemente Coliseum in San Juan, Puerto Rico and sold out the venue. The following day he became the first rap artist to perform at the annual Puerto Rican Día Naciónal de la Salsa (National Day of Salsa).
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." 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. 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" and also Tego featured Aventura's "We Got The Crown".
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."
In the summer of 2005, Calderón signed a deal between Atlantic Records and his own independent label, Jiggiri Records, making him the first reggaeton artist to have a deal with a major record company.
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, DJ Nesty, Naldo, DJ Joe, DJ Fat and Echo & Diesel. At the presentation party for the album, Calderón explained that he no longer considers himself as a reggaeton artist because this genre of music has become too commercial. Noting that reggaeton is becoming too similar to pop music and that he does not let his children listen to it at home unless it is on the radio.
In June 2012, Tego Calderón, released a mixtape, 'El Original Gallo del País - O.G. El Mixtape' (The Original G of the State - O.G. The Mixtape), which garnered a remarkable amount of accolades. The buzz about "O.G." began when copies of the album were handed out to the spectators of the Puerto Rican Day Parade, which is held every year in the streets of New York. The album includes nine songs and has become quite a marvel, charting at the top of iTune's Latin and Urban charts as well as positioning itself as one of the leading releases in digital sales. The mixtape includes the tracks: "Cierren" (Close It), "Robin Hood", "Sin Usted Que" (Without You...What?), "Suerte" (Luck), "Se Ajuma" (She's Tipsy), "Cosas Que Pasan" (Things That Happen), "El Sitio" (The Spot), and two collaborations, one with Arcangel in "Hablan de Mi" (They Talk About Me) and one with legendary Panamanian singer, Kafu Banton, in "Like We (Ay Dios Mío)" (Like We -Oh My God).
Calderón has become more interested in video production and has produced various videos in support of O.G., including "El Sitio," "Robin Hood" and "Cosas Que Pasan." Both the song and video for "El Sitio" pay homage to Tego's daily life and the people who inhabit this magical corner of Puerto Rico. Not only is it home to many people, but "El Sitio" (The Spot) is also where many of Tego's stories, regarding his career and life, sprung from. Besides being his creative refuge, "El Sitio" (The Spot) is home to his recording studio.
The video for "Robin Hood" focuses on several sociopolitical and economic themes such as the immigration of Dominicans to Puerto Rico. Calderón was very involved with the director in the creation of the concept for "Robin Hood"and had the final input for the recording, location and treatment of the video. The video "Robin Hood" contains a preview of the song "Si Yo Fuera Usted" (If I Were You), which belongs to the genre known as "bomba", folkloric music native to his homeland Puerto Rico.
In October 2012, Jiggiri Records, Tego's own record label, will be releasing a folkloric album called "La Prole: Con Respeto A Mis Mayores" featuring his performances. "La Prole" is a culmination of many months' work were Calderon has written and recorded original "bomba" chants in an effort to bridge the gap between the old and the new.
"El Que Sabe Sabe", Tego Calderon's next commercial release effort, which shall include duets with the likes of Don Omar and Kany Garcia, is due in March 2013.
Musical styles and themes
Although Calderón is a reggaeton artist, he claims to like "all types of music". Evidence of this is seen both in his biography (he began his career in music in a 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". 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 interdule without Calderón.
Calderón has also been praised for his lyrics, which are much more substantive and uplifting than the misogynist materialistic words that have come to define reggaeton as well as the majority of hip-hop music. 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. A consistent link between all of his albums "are the social themes and the untouchable bravado that he usually transmits through his artistic outlook." According to Tony Touch, "Tego is someone who represents struggle, an underdog... He's more of an MC, a product of late-'80s hip-hop."
Film and other career projects
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.
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.
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.
Calderon and Don Omar are featured in Fast & Furious and Fast Five, the fourth and fifth installments of The Fast and the Furious franchise.