In Conversation With The Latino Gang: J Balvin, Tainy, and Yandel
The Latin artists sit down to talk about reggaeton and its impact on the fashion industry
In honor of the release of DYNASTY, a collaborative album by multi-award-winning artists Tainy and Yandel, Foot Locker and its creative incubator, Greenhouse, brought together some of the genre’s biggest names for an authentic conversation on the state of reggaeton, sneaker culture, and the evolution and globalization of the genre.
Moderated by Hot97’s Laura Stylez and head of Youtube Music Artist Relations, AJ Ramos, with special guests J Balvin and fashion tastemaker and consultant Upscale Vandal; the discussion illustrated personal takes on the movement’s rise to global recognition, the adaptation of mainstream U.S culture to Latin music and the current fashion trends set by artists such as Tainy and J Balvin.
“We are people that enjoy fashion… for us, it’s not just the music that’s important, it’s also everything that comes with the culture, fashion, and style,” said Puerto Rican record producer, Tainy.
Recorded in New York City, the tastemakers shared their personal relationship to fashion and reggaeton, sneaker culture, and the Black and Brown experience within streetwear.
“As a young kid, even with a little budget I always found ways to dress trendy,” shared Puerto Rican artist, Yandel, on the creativity often birthed out of necessity. “My vision has always been that we are global citizens. I’ve taken “Latino Gang” so personally because we used to get overlooked a lot,” said Balvin on the lack of Latinx representation that he one day hoped to change. “I always asked myself ‘What’s wrong with us?” he added.
The celebratory symbolism found in DYNASTY is projected in the intimate conversation: pride, thrill, and joy. Tainy and Yandel’s 16-Year dynasty encapsulates this and was acknowledged in the conversation when J Balvin gave his flowers to the artist that inspired his career.
“The evolution to me…being honest, we come from places where we don’t have access,” said Upscale Vandal on the fashion choices of early-2000s Reggaeton stars. “If you tell your parents, as a Latino, ‘Mom, I’m gonna go buy a $500 USD pair of sneakers,’ they might kick you out of the house.”
“In our countries, instead of buying a Mercedes, I am going to buy a house for my mom, I’m going to help the neighborhood,” he added. “So in the beginning I have a lot of ‘hate’ to Latin fashion,” he joked.
As part of the award-winning duo Wisin & Yandel, Yandel was just at the beginning of global success when he began to work with Tainy. Though in his mid-teens, Tainy’s character, creativity, and discipline quickly won Yandel over — these beautiful moments were detailed in the discussion. As well as, the reality of Tainy catapulting “superstardom” for Latin producers in the industry.
“Tainy is one of the first Latino “Super Producer” because in hip-hop super producers are common, you got Timbaland you got Pharrell, you got all these marquee names that are artists as producers. In the Latino world, producers usually didn’t get a huge following,” said Upscale Vandal.
The exclusive conversation comes on the heels of Latin GRAMMY-winning producer and artist Tainy and Reggaeton icon Yandel collaboration launch with heritage American sportswear brand Starter, for a limited-edition collaboration ahead of the launch of the release of the highly anticipated album, titled DYNASTY which commemorated their 16-year relationship as collaborators in which they have made some of the most culture-changing and biggest reggaeton hits in history.
Watch the 55-minute exclusive interview below to get to know the Latino Gang better: