Before he collaborated with Rosalía, helping her craft the avant-garde songs of her 2018 breakthrough album El Mal Querer, C. Tangana had traversed rap and trap in Spain, with an attitude that was both hardcore and experimental. A former Catholic schoolboy and philosophy major in college, he possessed the intellectual banter that music snobs love, but also a knack for finding the right commercial edge to his hooks.
By 2017, he had won Best New Artist at Spain’s Los 40 music awards, and Best Worldwide Act from Spain at the MTV EMA Awards. Natti Natasha, Becky G, Farruko, Paloma Mami, Tainy and Lauren Jauregui all recorded collaborations and remixes with Tangana, in a bid to dip their toes into a Spanish market increasingly saturated with “Latin” reggaetón. Meanwhile, Tangana tested the waters in the U.S. and Latin America, where he played Lollapalooza Argentina.
With a rapper’s swagger and writer’s broodiness, combined with a sleek sense of style, Tangana – real name Antón Álvarez (“Pucho” to his friends) — became a media obsession in Spain, with influencers and intellectuals hyper-analyzing the meaning behind every gesture and video image. By last summer, Tangana’s global streams were nearing the 2 billion mark.