Reggaetón duo's debut makes its mark on three Billboard charts.
For the past five years, reggaetón duo Alexis Y Fido have focused on building a loyal following in their native Puerto Rico and select U.S. cities. While they have recorded numerous songs for various compilations and mix tapes, but "The Pitbulls" is their first full-length album.
It's one that fans have been anxiously awaiting. In fact, last week, "The Pitbulls" debuted on not one but three Billboard charts: Top Heatseekers (No. 2), Latin Rhythm Albums (No. 2) and Top Latin Albums (No. 4).
Between promotional gigs, the duo, whose first language is Spanish, spoke to Billboard.com about what contributed to the success of the album.
Although both rappers have been entrenched in Puerto Rico's reggaetón scene since their early teens, Raul "Alexis" Ortiz and Joel "Fido" Martinez didn't join forces until the 2001 compilation "Desafio."
"The album had [room for] 24 tracks and they already recorded 23, so there was one spot free," says Fido. "I couldn't have my own song, and neither could Alexis, so the producer [asked] if we could do a song together. We did, and it was a hit in Puerto Rico, and that's how Alexis Y Fido was created."
Since then the duo has built a fan base with songs for such compilations as "Hector El Bambino Presenta Los Anormales" and Luny Tunes' "Mas Flow 2," among many others.
Their signature "barking" helped set them apart from the other artists and earned them the nickname "Los Pitbulls."
"I always do that on all the songs and at all shows," says Alexis. "Every time I bark you got to be careful, though, 'cause Fido is ready to bite."
"We worked hard on the compilations to impress the fans," adds Fido. "We didn't have promotion, our songs were just played on [Latin] radio stations in South America, Central America, Europe and the United States. So everybody was waiting for the album."
In the Latin music community, this tactical approach is one that's often used to make a name for reggaetón artists.
"Reggaetón is different from all the other [Latin] genres -– like meringue, pop and salsa -– because you have to work the streets. That's how we did this. We created the interest for the album on the streets; people got to know us before we prepared an album."
Although many hip-hop artists are known for their sexist lyrics, Alexis Y Fido pride themselves on embracing their female fans. That's why "90% of our fans are women," says Alexis.
"What happens in the streets we put in the songs very, very carefully," he notes. "We don't want to offend nobody. You're never gonna hear Alexis Y Fido talking about 'Yo, move that fat ass, bitch' or whatever."
With that unique mix of street sensibility and social awareness, the pair formed friendships with artists like Daddy Yankee, Don Omar and Wisin Y Yandel. In fact, Fido produced several tracks on Yankee's hit album "Barrio Fino."
Although contractual obligations kept Yankee and Omar from appearing on "The Pitbulls," Alexis Y Fido were able to work with Noriega, Luny Tunes, Hector "El Bambino" and Terror Squad's Tony Sunshine, among others.
On the next album the duo would like to work with a mix of Latin and American artists such as Ivy Queen and Ludacris. Alexis adds, "I would like to [record] something in English for the United States to prove myself. I have never done that before."