Arcángel is a charting reggaeton and Latin trap singer and rapper who resides in Puerto Rico. He began his career as a member of the duo Arcángel y De la Ghetto in the mid-2000s. Their hits, including "Agresivo," "Sorpresa," "Mi Fanática," and "El Pistolón" (the latter, featuring the reggaeton duo Yaga y Mackie, is the song widely considered the first Latin trap track), registered on both sales and airplay charts, and established his reputation to the degree he was able to embark on a solo career. His trademark cool yet expressive tenor singing voice contrasts a certain melodic sweetness with gritty lyrics in Spanish and English (a fine example is the track "Zum Zum"); as a rapper, his delivery is slow, smooth, yet gritty and expressive (check "Original"). Arcángel is a prolific collaborator on other artists' singles and albums. He is at least as well-known in this role as he is as a solo artist. Along with Bad Bunny, he is one of the most ubiquitous guests on reggaeton and Latin trap recordings. His own songs, albums, and collaborative recordings have landed on no less than 11 international charts.
Born Austin Santos on December 23, 1986, in New York City, Arcángel established himself in tandem with De la Ghetto with the song "Ven y Pegate" on the popular Hector el Father-hosted compilation album Sangre Nueva. Throughout 2005 and 2006, Arcángel y De la Ghetto were featured on a variety of reggaeton albums, including Luny Tunes' Mas Flow: Los Benjamins, and were associated with Baby Records, the label of Zion (of the duo Zion & Lennox). Arcángel announced in December 2006 that he was embarking on a solo career and starting a label of his own. In the wake of his announcement, De la Ghetto also embarked on a solo career and made his major-label full-length debut with Masacre Musical (2008).
Meanwhile, Arcángel's career started a bit more sporadically. While "Chica Virtual," his guest feature on DJ Nelson's Flow la Discoteka, Vol. 2 (2007) was a minor hit, his planned full-length solo debut, La Maravilla, went unreleased after it was leaked to the Internet in 2008. At the end of the year, Arcángel finally made his solo debut with El Fenómeno (2008), produced by some of reggaeton's top beatmakers, including Luny Tunes, Mambo Kingz, Tainy, and Noriega. The album featured mostly new material, though a handful of songs originally planned for release on La Maravilla, including the hit single "Paque la Pases Bien," were included. The lead single for El Fenómeno, "Por Amar a Ciegas," scored its own chart placement for Arcángel (number 34 at Latin Airplay) and drove the album back into the Top 20 on the Top Latin Albums chart. He also founded Flow Factory, Inc., his own production company, and enlisted his mother as his manager.
Despite his chart success, Arcángel didn't rush into another recording. Instead, he toured Europe. He issued the mixtape The Problem Child in April of 2010. Upon returning, he released another mixtape, Optimus A.R.C.A., and began assembling tracks for a follow-up album. While working, he took time to contribute to a pair of the popular El Imperio Nazza compilations.
It took until 2013 for Sentimiento, Elegancia y Maldad to appear. Its pre-release single, "Hace Mucho Tiempo" featuring Daddy Yankee and Baby Johnny, did well on airplay and download charts and eventually peaked at 13 on the Tropical Songs chart, while the album hit the number one spot on the Top Latin Albums list. For the next year and a half, Arcángel spent his time collaborating and contributing to other artists' recordings, including Maluma's smash hit Pretty Boy, Dirty Boy.
The notion of collaboration, so important in reggaeton, became the motivating factor behind 2015's Los Favoritos. Enlisting DJ Luian as a co-billed conspirator, Arcángel set about recording tracks with his favorite genre artists of two generations, including J Balvin, Maluma, Nicky Jam, Ñejo Flow, Farruko, J Alvarez, and Wisin. There were 20 in all. The single "Tu Cuerpo Me Hace Bien" landed inside the Top Ten of the Latin Rhythm chart and topped the Tropical Songs chart, while the album spent 13 weeks riding the Latin Top 40. For the next three years, Arcángel focused his attention on releasing a slew of singles and videos, with "Rose" (featuring Mambo Kingz, DJ Luian, and BF), "Bien Puta," "Cula en la Clara" (featuring Tali), "Mas Que Ayer" (featuring De la Ghetto), "Zum Zum," and "Original" (featuring Bad Bunny) among them. They all charted. In 2018, he dropped the full-length Ares, which all but abandoned reggaeton and its dembow rhythm in favor of dirty trap beats and contemporary Latin pop. J Balvin was a featured guest on the track "Corte, Porte y Elegancia." The set entered the Latin Albums chart at number five. ~ Jason Birchmeier