These days, you need a serious ID chart just to keep track of all the two-man acts in the reggaeton game. A quick head count pulls up Wisin y Yandel, Rakim y Ken-Y, Jowell y Randy and Alexis y Fido, to start. Then of course, there’s Angel y Khriz, who first hit the scene when Hector El Father co-signed and recorded a track for their 2002 debut album, Los MVP’s. We didn’t hear from the boys again until 2005, when their global anthem “Ven Bailalo” turned them into bonafide stars and cemented their style—a tropical-dem bow fusion that somehow spans the entire Latin American sonic diaspora and still stays true to the core of classic reggaeton. No album followed, but another tropitón banger, “Carita De Angel,” appeared on the 2007 mixtape Echo Presents: Invasion and proved that this pair could (and would) be bigger and better, someday.
Now—finally—Ángel Rivera Guzmán, 28, and Christian Colón, 26, are delivering on their word. Their sophomore album, Showtime (out today via Machete Music), is best described by Khriz himself: “If you liked ‘Ven Bailalo,’ we’ve got like six more ‘Ven Bailalo’s on this album.” The Juanes-inspired single “La Vecina” (click below to listen!) and the straight fire “Muévela” (think Pitbull, only better) are just the tip of the iceberg—if you buy them as iTunes singles, you’re missing out on 13 other tracks that bring a collective, much needed kick in the booty to a genre that’s perennially on the verge of collapse. Still, the question remains: what really sets these Carolina-bred boricuas apart from the pack? We had Angel y Khriz answer that question, reveal the best advice Hector El Father gave them and explain why the sexy photoshoot they did for Showtime is enough reason to cop it!
"La Vecina” sounds like a Juanes-influenced take on reggaeton, and that’s a good thing. What kind of sound were you going for when you recorded it?
Khriz: We wanted to use a lot of different sounds. You can’t just call it vallenato or cumbia, because it has a little of everything—electric guitar, trumpet, accordion. We wanted to offer a new, alternative reggaeton and thought “La Vecina” was a good way to kick things off, especially following “Carita de Angel,” which people really enjoyed.
Did you take that same fusion approach with other tracks on the album?
Angel: Yeah, there’s an song called “Tu Aroma” that’s very tropical and another one called “Va y Ven,” which is like a contemporary Mexican cumbia…sort of like Los Kumbia Kings or Los Súper Reyes. Then we’ve got a track called “Quiere Más,” which is puro merengue-mambo; it’s got nothing to do with reggaeton. And “Na de Na” was really influenced by dancehall, the same type of fusion that Kat DeLuna is doing so well.
Khriz: Basically, we wanted this album to have every sound that’s hot right now, sonando fuerte, in music.
Would you say this is the future of the genre, combining dem bow beats with other rhythms and changing things up?
Angel: When you combine reggaeton with other genres, that makes it more attractive to the public. We’re giving the consumer more reasons to buy the CD, instead of making them listen to the same thing over and over again. If we keep evolving and offering newness, they’ll feel better about buying our product.
Khriz: The fusion sound is a branch of reggaeton. You know how in hip-hop, you have the Dirty South movement? Well in reggaeton, there’s a branch of artists who are about fusion, there are the ones who are more about romance, and so on. At this stage of the game, we’re all using reggaeton as a foundation but searching for different alternatives.
What kind of music do you both listen to?
Angel: Khriz is more into hip-hop and American music, and I’m more into Latin pop—I like pop a lot. That mix is reflected in our album.
Khriz: From the hip-hop world, I love T-Pain. I’m totally fascinated by him. As for Latin artists—and I know Angel would agree—we like Camila’s talent a lot, and of course Juan Luis Guerra. We’ve always wanted to do something with him. Also, there’s Juanes, Olga Tañon, Ricky Martin…we have lots of inspiration, and when we combine our personal tastes, sale la bombita of Angel y Khriz.
How did you guys first meet while growing up in Carolina?
Angel: I’d go to Khriz’s high school to visit my friends during recess—
Khriz: You meant to cut class!
Angel: Yeah [laughs]. So my friends introduced me to him, and then one day I invited him to sing a song with me for a record. And there you have it.
Did the huge success of “Ven Bailalo” change your career?
Khriz: That song changed everything for us. Up until then, we were famous en el patio and in Puerto Rico. If we traveled, we’d go to Orlando or small places where the genre was always strong because of the Latinos living there. But that song was global. We started to see how the music industry really worked when we hit big in Colombia, Chile, Panama, everywhere. And once we had the chance to travel to all of those places, we heard the local music and influences of each country and absorbed all of that information. That’s why we think this record is better than the first, and we’re coming with a maturity that’s completely different. If you like “Ven Bailalo,” there’s like six more “Ven Bailalo”s on this album.
Angel: In other words, on the last album we were cruditos, and now we’re cocinados completos [laughs].
How has Hector El Father influenced you?
Khriz: When he collaborated with us on “Cazando Voy” from our first album, everyone started paying more attention to us. Fue una patadita for our career, as they say.
Angel: We’ve learned a lot from Hector. He taught us that it’s important to never let ourselves get conceited—to keep it real and stay humble.
Smart advice. So how do you distinguish yourself from all the other reggaeton duos?
Angel: I think we have un toque that distinguishes us, from our commercial viability to the way we deliver our lyrics with more feeling. Other artists—not to say that they’re not talented, but they’re not focused on making music for all people—they’re focused on the youth. We saw that “Ven Bailalo” was successful with kids, with teens, with adults and viejitos, so that’s been our goal ever since. We’re not trying to be alienated from the genre because we’re 100% proud raperos, and we’ll be singing reggaeton until the end of our careers. But we try to do something that says Angel y Khriz are different from the rest.
Which artists would you say are only focused on the youth market—Rakim y Ken-Y?
Khriz: Well, Rakim y Ken-Y are all about romance and love, and the audience for that includes everyone. Kids fall in love, and adults fall in love, too. It’s more that they’re always romantic, where as we do something romantic, something movido fusionado and something for the clubs.
Angel: There are reggaeton artists who stay on the romantic tip, some who stay on the club tip and some who stay on the street tip. We’re not on any one tip. We’re covering all our bases.
What’s the second single that you’re planning to drop after “La Vecina”?
Khriz: Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves! But yeah, the people who have heard the album are really impressed by that song. It’s geared toward the Anglo market, and it’s perfect for the clubs.
Ok, let’s end things right—name three reasons why ladies should cop Showtime.
Khriz: Musically, you’re not going to hear a reggaeton album as complete as this. It’s so diverse that at some points, I was worried! But now I listen to tracks 1-15 without skipping any.
Angel: Second, I love the artwork and the photos that we took for this album. You’ll have the opportunity to see us in different settings. I’m wearing a wifebeater, todo flexed…you don’t see that every day! You have to buy the album, so you can see me in a wifebeater.
Khriz: That’s it, you sold them right there. And third, it’s been a while since you last heard from us, but now we’re here to stay. We’re on a new label, and if you buy our album, you'll be a part of this new beginning to our career. If you regret it, we’ll give your money back.