We’ve heard a lot of Escalera stories so far, but Tego Calderón’s is in a class unto itself. A one time potential felon facing 30 years in prison, Calderón was able to turn his life around and inspire reggaeton fans across the world. This is his story and it deserves to be heard.
Tego’s upbringing spans two very different worlds. Though he spent his later teen years in Miami, Calderón is a true Puerto Rican. He was born in the small town of Santurce and told us he’s eternally grateful for the loving environment he had growing up.
"I grew up with both my parents, thankfully," Tego told us. "But, like in every house, there were struggles. My parents always studied and tried to educate me. But we weren’t rich or middle class or any of that."
One thing Calderón’s mom and dad encouraged was his love of music. His house was constantly filled with a variety of sounds that strongly influence the styles he uses today. And interestingly, artists as diverse as The Supremes and Juan Boria fall into that category.
As Tego got older, he began focusing on percussion. And by the time he reached the seventh grade, Calderón was enrolled in a special music school where he could cultivate his talents for the conga and drums.
"My parents always told me I was born with a conga," Tego jokingly said. "I actually got my first set when I was in kindergarten."
Once Calderón reached high school, his father’s job led the family to Miami and an entirely new world. Unfortunately, South Florida and Tego didn’t click at first. By 1992, he was back in Puerto Rico and getting into all kinds of trouble with the law.
Things got to their worst, when Calderón was arrested on weapons and assault charges. Facing the possibility of 30 years in prison, Tego was at a definite crossroad in his life. Continue with the anger and recklessness, or channel his energy into something better?
"I realized at that time that my anger wasn’t justified," he said. "There were people who had really been through tough situations in life. I didn’t have anything to complain about. But it was something I had to live through. I don’t recommend it to anybody, but it worked for me."
Not long after, Calderón’s life began to take an upward swing. He began focusing on music again and soon several fans took notice. In Puerto Rico, Tego started making independent recordings and slowly built up a following with his energetic live shows. He even began sharing the stage with another Escalera alum, Ivy Queen.
By the millennium, Tego’s momentum was at an all-time high. He put together his first full-length album in 2002, which became a bona fide smash. El Abayarde immediately sold over 50,000 copies and gave Calderón the opportunity to fulfill a lifelong dream, performing at San Juan’s Roberto Clemente Coliseum.
Soon Tego’s popularity led him cross over, giving him the opp to perform at Madison Square Garden and several other massive U.S. venues. By the time his sophomore album, El Enemy de los Guasibiri, came around, he was collaborating with up-and-comers like Aventura and Yandel.
Hollywood came calling shortly thereafter, giving Tego the opportunity to appear in films like Illegal Tender and the hugely successful Fast & Furious sequels. But none of that compares to his legendary stature in the Latin music community.
Now somewhat of an elder statesman, Calderón’s albums serve as the blueprint of modern reggaeton. Plus, his lyrics continue to be praised for their honesty and depth. And seeing how Tego hasn’t even hit his 40’s yet, we can only imagine what great sounds are yet to come!
Were you inspired by Tego Calderón’s story? Sound off in the comments or @MTV3.
Copyright : Tr3s