Alexis & Fido deliver fun, lyrical raps that have made them the talk of their genre. Now the reggaetón pair -- whose real names are Raul Ortiz and Joel Martinez -- is finding that its music is reaching a burgeoning fan base far beyond its home of Cayey, Puerto Rico, a mountain town where as children they dreamed of making music.
In the June 11 chart week, the duo's single "Contéstame el Teléfono," featuring Flex, topped Billboard's Tropical Airplay tally and jumped 10 notches to No. 4 on Hot Latin Songs, its best showing to date on that ranking.
The pair, signed to Sony Music Latin, is planning a 2012 tour that will likely include stops in Europe in addition to the United States and Latin America.
"They have worked incredibly hard to get to this point by building an audience beyond the United States," says their manager Jorge Ramos, adding that Alexis & Fido have been using YouTube, Twitter and Facebook to grow their international fan base.
Their 2007 single "5 Letras" has nearly 2 million views on YouTube, while 2009's "Bartender" has more than 1 million views. "We're noticing that people react to their music around the world, especially Europe and Mexico," Ramos says.
Ortiz and Martinez met as teenagers during the 1990s when they competed in their neighborhoods with other aspiring rappers to see who could write the best lyrics. Back then, it was all about American hip-hop and Latin rap. Then reggaetón surfaced, and the friends decided to pursue their love of music as a career.
"I was always hearing raps in my head," says Martinez, who generally comes up with ideas for the music. "Then at some point when I was 11 I began writing my own music. I would record into my mother's recorder.
"Alexis & Fido's efforts have paid off, as evidenced through the evolution of their five albums. They debuted in 2005 with "The Pitbulls," peaking at No. 4 on the Top Latin Albums chart. That was followed by "Down to Earth" in 2009, which peaked at No. 5. Their latest album "Perrologia," released March 22, peaked at No. 10 on Top Latin Albums and at No. 2 on Latin Rhythm Albums.
Martinez says the duo, which has been mentored through the years by reggaetón stars Wisin & Yandel, also harbors aspirations "to do other things at some point, like make movies."
"We want to expand," Ortiz says, "but what's most important is making music that our fans want. That's always our priority."