The Early Days:
Tego Calderon (Tegui Calderon Rosario) grew up in Puerto Rico, although he moved to Miami in his teens, where he graduated from Miami Beach Senior High School. His mother was a schoolteacher, his father a government worker, but both were avid salsa fans, especially of “Maelo” (Ismael Rivera). Calderon’s father also passed on a love of jazz to his son.
While he studied percussion and composition at the Escuela Libre de Puerto Rico, it was during his sojourn in Miami that the group N.W.A, pioneers of gansta rap, caught his attention and started to sway his musical thinking. Combining the musical influences of his youth, Calderon then started forging his own, unique musical style. His move to Spanish lyrics was influenced by hip-hop and reggaeton pioneer Vico C.
Calderon appeared on a number of Latin rap compilations until he was signed by White Lion Records and subsequently released his first album, El Abayarde (also Calderon’s nickname) in 2002. The album was an immediate success in the Latin world and in 2003 went on to be distributed in the U.S. by RCA.
Rise of Reggaeton:
Calderon’s star was on the rise, in sync with the growing popularity of reggaeton, as the sound started to become popular outside of Puerto Rico itself. As an example, in August 2003, Calderon headlined at Madison Square Garden where 12,000 people attended the concert. In 2004, he returned to the Garden for the Megaton 2004 concert; this time the event was attended by a sold-out crowd of 20,000