Alcover & Xtassy

Alcover & Xtassy

Courtesy Photo

“A&X, El Orfanato, Danza Kuduro!” That’s the shout-out that kicks off “Danza Kuduro,” the 2010 reggaetón mega-hit by Don Omar featuring Lucenzo.

The reference is to El Orfanato, Don Omar’s label, and A&X, the producers that gave the track its global, danceable flavor. It clicked. To date, the video for “Danza Kuduro” has nearly 800 million views on YouTube and is on the service’s list of 100 most-watched videos of all time.

So who exactly is A&X? It’s not a person, but the production team of Alcover (Milton "Alcover" Restituyo) and Xtassy (Juan “Xtassy” Abreu).

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Born in Dominican Republic and raised in New York, the pair hit the jackpot when they signed with El Orfanato in 2009 and produced “Danza.” A string of other international hits followed, including “Taboo” (featured on the Fast Five soundtrack) and “Dutty Love.”

Now the pair is trying out new horizons with their first album as lead artists. The Rise: Latin Street Hits (Universal Music Latino), which features tracks by a broad range of acts produced by A&X, debuted at No. 10 on Billboard’s Latin Rhythm Albums chart.

And while urban compilations are commonplace, The Rise focuses on mostly up-and-coming Dominican acts, including Mozart La Para, Dynasty, Mark B and Natti Natasha.

“We had a lot of tracks done,” says Alcover. “And we met with Universal and they gave us the opportunity to make a compilation. These were all artists who are on the rise but who have their fan base. They just needed that last link.”

A&X were signed until 2013 with Don Omar’s Orfanato, with whom they remain close. At that point, they connected with peermusic, which was looking for urban producers to sign to their boutique roster.

“We look for specific skill sets,” says Yvonne Drazan, peermusic’s VP for the Latin Division, West Coast. “Alcover played us different kinds of music: tribal, pop, some bachata. So we knew there was real diversity in the talent, and that was really important to us.”

Drazan also liked the fact that the pair was planning to use their advance money to finish their studio in the North Bronx, which she describes as a “little talent incubator.”

The Rise was recorded there, and the focus, says Alcover, was making urban music with an international sound and Dominican roots. “We’ve lived all our lives in New York,” says Xtassy. “But we have our culture and our Caribbean roots, and that comes across in the music.”

Up next is a possible The Rise tour in the fall, and new tracks for Natti Natasha, Jencarlos Canela, Taboo (from the Black Eyed Peas) and, of course, Don Omar.

“Don Omar really was the one who introduced us to the world, and I’m thankful,” says Alcover. “Maybe I was going to be more or less without him, but I wouldn’t have lived that moment.”