C. Tangana’s recent LA visit placed him in the middle of a heat wave, but the Madrid-born rapper was all cool in a colorful rainbow-colored shirt he purchased during his brief time in Southern California. Staying in the heart of Hollywood, the entertainer talked with Billboard exclusively about his rise in music, why the U.S. market is key for him and why his upcoming single with Becky G was essential.
“I’m from Europe, so I have that influence in my music,” said Tangana of his musical style, while sitting in the bar lounge area of a Hollywood hotel, adding, “but it can also be a handicap because it may not be a sound that people are expecting.”
Even with a calculated musical risk, Tangana’s brand of music — rap-meets-trap-and pop with slivers of sexuality — lights him up as he powers through the rest of 2018 with a signature style that’s also dark and gritty, as seen in his “Bien Duro” video. It’s a mix that’s appealing beyond the music alone. Tangana recently parted ways with girlfriend Rosalia, the Spanish artist making waves with her fusion of hip-hop and flamenco, after a two-year romantic relationship that also saw them collaborating musically, making them a must-hear couple.
Now, Tangana is hoping his grittier brand of Latin urban music will also appeal to a larger audience.
In fact, his music is doing well beyond Spain, he says, with data from sources such as Spotify signaling that his music is resonating in Mexico, then the U.S., two key markets for the Spanish rapper signed to Sony.
Tangana emphasizes that his collaboration with Becky G has been important as a way to connect with an industry colleague who brings a bicultural and bilingual background. Their rap song, which has yet to be officially titled with a pending video that may be filmed in Los Angeles, perfectly illustrates his approach to urban music.
Without missing a beat, the rapper whips out an iPhone for an impromptu listening session exclusively for Billboard. It’s clear the Spanish artist wants to push urban into a different direction that also includes a variety of new sounds. The Becky G song pulsates through a series of tight beats to combine his raps and Becky G’s vocal contributions that ultimately make for a sensual sound with hints of R&B.
“We know Becky G is Latina, but she also brings an American influence,” Tangana says of his collaborator’s appeal and the reason why he wanted to work with the occasional actress (Power Rangers). “I’m not trying to do what’s already been done.”
Tangana’s appreciation for Latin urban acts such as Daddy Yankee and Bad Bunny is noted during the interview, but he said he tries to steer clear of emulating a sound that’s established. He also sees his role as an interpreter of “the beautiful and ugly things” that happen in life. Some of that imagery is seen in his “Bien Duro” video, which includes sexual imagery, drug use and nudity.
“I’m brinigng my own style, but not trying to repeat,” said Tangana, who is a fan of Bob Dylan, Drake and Romeo Santos. “It’s my fight and I’m trying to take it to the next level. I want people in clubs to enjoy my music, but I also what to convey something deep and strong in the music, the lyrics and in my videos.”
Check out C. Tangana’s “Mala Mujer” video here: