By Jesús Triviño Alarcón
Ivy Queen would like to make it clear: “I never use the term ‘legend’ to describe myself. It’s a beautiful title, but other people use it to describe me.” By other people, she means fellow Latinx women, music industry types and present day artists that include Melymel, Bad Bunny and Cardi B.
But that’s exactly what Ivy Queen is — the Queen of Reggaeton, La Caballota, a damn LEGEND. Her place in reggaeton history is firmly cemented aside Daddy Yankee, Don Omar and Tego Calderon. Yet, her road to icon status was slightly more difficult than that of her male counterparts because of all the usual machismo music industry misconceptions.
“When I started in this business they’d say that my voice was too masculine; I wasn’t tall enough, black enough — that’s always existed,” says Ivy, 46, dressed for this interview in a firefighter red leather jacket with matching knee-high boots.
Instead of giving up, she used her so-called negative attributes to her advantage. Her gruff voice added weight to her impressive, brash lyrics. Oh, and her style — and love of nail salons — her style. Ivy’s nail art could hang beside Picasso in an art museum — and they’re so long that they’re basically claws. Very stylish claws.
Guinness World Record-nails aside, the Puerto Rican artist is all about her music and her legion of female fans. And her latest EP, Llego La Queen — out now — is for them.
“I always try to keep my path original as far as my content, my lyrics,” she says. “I always focus on what I represent for a lot of women. Llego La Queen is hard AF. It has ‘Y Tú,’ which I know women will dedicate to the ones who are acting badly.”
In particular, she has one fan on her mind: Belcalis Marlenis Almánzar, better known as Cardi B. During a chance meeting at New York City’s Soulfrito Urban Latin Music Fest, the Dominican and Trinidadian rap superstar fangirled over Ivy, posting on her IG: “This is my Queen for real a[n] idol for me @ivyqueendiva,” she wrote. “Her music was one of the first reggaeton songs I ever listen too [sic]. She also inspired me to get my nails how I get them done <3 <3 IVY QUEEN.”
Ever since then, Latinx music fans have been clamoring for a collaboration.
“Hopefully, I’ll connect with Cardi in Spain. We’re doing a concert in Barcelona; playing on the same day in May,” Ivy says. “The people are asking for it. If it happens, great, but if not, it’s fine also. I get a lot of respect from her and she’s said it a ton of times that I’ve inspired her — the nails, the look. So it’d be huge.”
Until the fuego collaboration comes to fruition, Ivy Queen will continue to watch over the urbano Themyscira kingdom she created, which is now full of inhabitants like Natti Natasha, Catalyna, Karol G, Melymely, Cardi and so many more. The Queen is content.