With Ivy Queen, we have one of our most inspirational Escalera stories yet. Yes she reached the top of her game, but it wasn’t easy and she had no handouts along the way. La Reina del Reggaeton paid plenty of dues, left an indelible mark, and ushered in an era of music that has influenced a generation.


Contrary to popular belief, Ivy (or Martha Pesante as she used to be known) was not born in Puerto Rico. She came into the world in New York City, but moved back to the island at age four, eventually settling in the tiny town of Añasco.


And interestingly, even as a child Ivy began developing her unique persona. She was never the typical "girly girl." As she told us, her rebellious attitude was present from the time she began picking out her wardrobe.


"I didn’t come as the typical young girl in a mini skirt," she explained. "No, I liked baggy pants, baseball caps, and all those type of things that make me who I am now. I definitely wasn’t shy when I was a little girl."


Eventually Ivy began discovering music and the empowered female artists of her parents’ generation. There was Celia Cruz, La Lupe, and a ton of classic salsa singers who, believe it or not, played a big role in influencing Ivy’s hip-hop style. To this day, she credits both women as major inspirations.


Music also allowed Ivy the opportunity to escape from a somewhat tense home life. When she was a teenager, Ivy’s parents divorced and she explained how the split became very difficult for all of the kids in her family. Her way of coping involved writing lyrics in a notebook and expressing herself with performances on stage.


"Music helped me protect myself," she said. "It may sound weird to some people, but it was my way to survive."


It was her musical ambitions that ultimately led Ivy to San Juan, Puerto Rico’s capital city. And from there, things began to take off at a rapid pace. She soon connected with DJ Negro and before long, she was rapping with the booming hip-hop group, The Noise.


Though her time with The Noise was somewhat short lived, Ivy did make one lasting connection. Namely Omar Navarro, the man who would become her husband and lyrical inspiration.


On the musical front, Ivy was destined for big things. Her MC skills quickly caught the attention of Sony International Records, which signed her for a solo record deal in the late 1990’s. The result was En Mi Imperio, a debut album that took the hip-hop and reggaeton world by storm!


"I called my first album En Mi imperio because when I was in The Noise, it felt like I was in an empire," she explained. "But now that this was my solo career and I was the only woman, I felt like this was My Empire!"


And Ivy’s empire has been growing ever since. Soon she was collaborating with stars like Wyclef Jean and getting airplay in countries around the world. But more importantly, she was establishing her reputation as La Reina del Reggaeton.


Now, as a single empowered woman (her marriage with Omar ended in the mid-2000’s), Ivy has plenty of material to rap about on the mic. Nearly 15 years into her solo career, Ivy Queen is, as she likes to put it, "just getting started."


What’s your favorite Ivy Queen album? Sound off in the comments or @MTV3.

Copyright : Tr3s