Messiah El Artista Topping The Dominican Charts Is Just the Beginning
Messiah El Artista topping the dominican charts is just the beginning and that’s how he tells when you ask him if about being in the top of the charts.
“The good thing about Messiah is that I have the two cultures. I am Dominican because I was born there, and obviously I had the culture at home, but I also had the reality of being from here from New York. Taking the train and on the street it was all Biggie and Jay-Z. It was just hip-hop. It just hit me.”
Few rappers capture the the things about being from two different cultures, but a Dominican New Yorker like Messiah does. He was born from a musical family in Santiago de los Caballeros. He grew up listen to merengue and balladeers like José José and Isabel Pantoja, but idolized New York rap juggernauts just as fiercely. He wrote his first song at the age of 11, but it wasn’t until he formed Tali & Messiah in his teens that his career really took off. In 2010, he decided to go solo, honing his breakneck flow and sly bacanería – the quisqueyano equivalent of swag. Messiah’s solo material first caught the Internet’s attention with a solid string of Spanish Drake and Future remixes, as well as with the charming tigueraje of “Tu Protagonista.”
It’s half-charted territory for Dominican rappers. New York has been home to only a handful of Dominican MCs, and even then, those icons never painted their Dominicanness as a central part of their art. What’s perhaps the most intriguing thing about Messiah is the way his story has upended the predictability of career trajectories in the Latin urban music industry. Historically, the diaspora has favored (both financially and aesthetically) urbano artists based on the island, rather than those on their own home turf.
It’s only in the past 15 years that urbano artists, who have layered their dominicanidad with the language of hip-hop and realities of urban living, have been able to use their talent to transform the popular music back home. In 2015, Messiah was hailed as one of the island’s breakout chart toppers, even catching up to major label heavy hitters like J Balvin and Farruko.
“In the Dominican Republic, one of my biggest fanbases is the jevitos who don’t even listen to dembow. We’re talking about the young kids in the DR who listen to Spanish rock.”
Whether Messiah is solely responsible for launching the burgeoning movement is up for debate, and history may not write him down as its frontrunner, but there’s no doubt that he’s nurtured the sound and his craft with reckless abandon.
“I’m living in a great position, economically, mentally, physically, emotionally – I’m good right now. And so I tell them, I can’t forget what I was doing before having this…Like Daddy Yankee said to me, ‘You are the leader of your movement. You are the Daddy Yankee of your movement.’”