Rauw Alejandro Brings Dance to Latin Urban
Rauw Alejandro, 26, has been dancing his whole life. “When my mom was shopping at Wal-Mart, I was in the aisles dancing,” he recalls. “I would lose myself in dancing. They would have to call my mom through the intercom, ‘Señora Maria, your son is looking for you.’”
Today, the Puerto Rican artist is bringing perfectly choreographed dance moves to Latin urban, a genre not historically known for reggaetoneros shaking their hips. But for Alejandro, dance is second nature.
Growing up in Canóvanas, Puerto Rico, and then moving to Carolina at 12, Alejandro was introduced to the music of legends — James Brown, Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley — by his father. Eventually, his own preteen curiosity led him to study the new school acts of Usher, Chris Brown and Justin Timberlake. But before his love of multitalented performers led him to a music career, Alejandro was focused on fútbol. He was a Puerto Rican unicorn — a rising fútbol talent in a land full baseball and basketball fanatics.
“At seven, I started playing soccer and I stayed with it until I was 19, 20,” he says. “I played for the [Puerto Rican] national team; I had a college scholarship, I traveled to the U.S. to play in the PDL (Premier Development League). That was the dream — to be a famous fútbol player. But everything was against me because the country didn’t help me fully develop. I got to a moment where I’m 20 and I had to ask myself, ‘What am I doing?’ I didn’t see a huge future in it. I decided to get into music as a hobby. Doing it as fun, next thing you know I’m in it.”
Since 2018, his hobby on Soundcloud has turned Rauw Alejandro into the face of the new wave of Puerto Rican urban artists — musicians who aren’t afraid to show their emotions in their lyrics and incorporate dance into their music. Moreover, they don’t shy away from collaborating with each other, because if one wins, they all win.
“Lyanno, Rafa Pabön, Alvarito Diaz, Sousa, Brray,” Alejandro says, “we all kind of started from the same ‘hood, this new generation is more united. We help each other out. Now our generation of artists are big and we’re breaking. There are more new artists than old school at this point.”
And those collaborations (“Mírame” with Nio Garcia and Lenny Taverez; “Mienteme” with Sousa, Alvarito, Cazzu and Lyanno) have made him an in-demand featured artist from colleagues and gained the admiration of legends like Nicky Jam, Wisin and J Balvin.
“Daddy Yankee told me, ‘From the new school you’re one of my favorites,’” Alejandro says, still in awe. “To hear that, it gives you more motivation to keep going. It’s like I’m doing the right thing. I’m doing it well. It’s a blessing.”
As for his next moves — performance-wise, he’s working with one of Chris Brown’s choreographers on new routines, and, musically, he’s prepping his first EP, Trap Cake, to launch this May with a full-length album later this year. Rauw Alejandro is still grinding like it’s day one because of the work ethic instilled by his parents.
“My mom always told me that nothing comes for free,” he remembers. “If you want to reach your dreams, you have to work for it. I’ve been working since I was 16. I’m always hustling. There isn’t a day where I’m not doing anything. Stay productive. What did I do today that can better my career? Nothing. Then today was a bad day. I want to focus on being a better artist every single day.”
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