Emmanuel Gazmey Santiago (born November 26, 1992), known professionally as Anuel AA is a Puerto Rican rapper and singer. He is considered a pioneer of the Latin trap movement and his lyrics often discuss crime and urban life in Puerto Rico. His music often contains samples and interpolations of songs that were popular during his youth. He is seen as a controversial figure in the Latin music scene for his legal troubles and feuds with fellow Puerto Rican rappers Cosculluela and Ivy Queen and with the American rapper 6ix9ine.
|Birth name||Emmanuel Gazmey Santiago|
|Born||November 26, 1992|
Carolina, Puerto Rico
Raised in Carolina, Puerto Rico, he started recording music at age fourteen and began posting it online four years later in 2010, before eventually signing to the Latin division of American rapper Rick Ross's Maybach Music Group. His 2016 mixtape Real Hasta la Muerte was well-received, but his success was put on hold the same year by a 30-month prison sentence for illegal firearm possession in Puerto Rico. He recorded the entirety of his debut album while incarcerated, during which time his genre of music surged in popularity.
Anuel AA released his debut album, also titled Real Hasta la Muerte, on July 17, 2018, the day he was released from prison. The album was a critical and commercial success. In the coming six months, he appeared on the Billboard Hot Latin Songs, solidifying his position as one of the top Latino artists. In August 2019, he released the song "China", a collaboration with Daddy Yankee, Karol G, Ozuna, and J Balvin, which was a global success. He has since released the hit song "Me Gusta" with Shakira, and his second album, Emmanuel, which was released on May 29, 2020. In November 2020, Anuel AA made a statement on Instagram and released a new song suggesting his imminent retirement from the music industry, citing family and relationship issues.
1992–2016: Early life and career beginningsEdit
Anuel AA grew up in a housing project in Carolina, Puerto Rico. His father is Afro-Puerto Rican and his mother, who was raised in Milwaukee, is of White Puerto Rican descent; Anuel AA has explained that he has experienced racism since childhood for being mixed-race. His father, José Gazmey, was vice president of the Puerto Rican division of Sony Music Entertainment's A&R department. When Anuel AA was a child, his father worked in the studio with salsa artists such as Héctor Lavoe and Fania All-Stars. While he does not identify as a fan of the salsa genre, Anuel AA recalls that seeing his father interact with these artists inspired an interest in the recording industry. However, his father lost his job when Anuel AA was fifteen years old, which placed financial strain on the family and led him to become what Rolling Stone magazine described as a "son of the streets".
He idolized Tupac Shakur while growing up and aspired to emulate his style of dress, particularly his emphasis on jewelry. He is childhood friends with Puerto Rican rapper Casper, who co-wrote, and performed on, the track "Te Boté". Speaking about how his upbringing in the projects influenced his music, Anuel AA stated, “My music is my soul speaking, literally. It’s spiritual. It has a lot of feelings, a lot of pain. It’s my experiences growing up en la calle [in the streets].” He began recording music at age fourteen, and started posting it online at age 18 in 2010. His music garnered millions of streams and views and eventually caught the attention of American rapper Rick Ross, who signed him to the Latin division of Maybach Music Group. His mixtape Real Hasta La Muerte was released in February 2016 and received positive reviews from critics. The success of this mixtape lead to Anuel AA landing a guest feature on Ozuna's 2017 album Odisea.
2016–2018: Incarceration and Real Hasta la Muerte albumEdit
In April 2016, Anuel AA was arrested in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, and sentenced to 30 months in federal prison for illegal possession of three firearms. Billboard noted that Latin trap surged in popularity while Anuel AA was in prison, writing, "Anuel remained behind bars, while outside, his music flourished." After being arrested and imprisoned, he recorded his debut album while incarcerated. He did this by primarily recording his vocals over the phone and taking advantage of his mandatory stay at a Miami halfway house to complete the album.
He released his debut album Real Hasta la Muerte on July 17, 2018, the day he was released from prison. Rolling Stone included it on its list of Best Latin Albums of 2018, noting that the artist "demonstrates impressive pop instincts" and further commented, "As Anuel keeps one foot in trap, he’s also looking toward Latin pop’s mainstream". Real Hasta la Muerte peaked at number 42 on the Billboard 200 and topped the US Top Latin Albums chart. The release of the album, along with the artist's release from prison, garnered significant media attention; the rapper was surprised by the public response and stated that he "didn't even know how to talk in interviews" after being incarcerated for more than two years. He achieved his first Billboard Hot 100 hit in August 2018 through his collaboration with American rapper 6ix9ine on the song "Bebe".
In the six months following the release of Real Hasta la Muerte, Anuel AA contributed vocals to eleven Billboard Hot Latin Songs-charting singles, including "Ella Quiere Beber" featuring Dominican-American bachata singer Romeo Santos. He also collaborated with Nicki Minaj and Bantu on the song "Familia" for the Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse soundtrack, released in December 2018. In January 2019, the rapper released the single "Secreto" with Colombian singer Karol G, confirming the romantic relationship between the two artists in the song's accompanying music video. The single reached number 68 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number five on the US Hot Latin Songs charts. The song was inspired by the time when Anuel AA and Karol G were dating but had not yet publicly discussed their relationship. The video's "power couple" aesthetic garnered comparisons to Beyoncé and Jay-Z as well as Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony.
2019–2020: "China" success and EmmanuelEdit
In July 2019, Anuel AA released "China", a collaboration with Daddy Yankee, Karol G, Ozuna, and J Balvin. The song heavily samples Shaggy's 2000 single, "It Wasn't Me", a track Anuel AA remembered from his childhood, which he selected from a number of old songs he had been listening to with the intention of "redo[ing] a classic". He told XXL that "when I used to go with the big boys in my hood to the club, they put that song on and everybody used to go crazy". "China" debuted at number two on Billboard's Hot Latin Songs chart and topped both the Latin Digital Songs and Latin Streaming Songs charts with 1,000 downloads sold and 14.1 million streams, while the accompanying video was included on the Rolling Stone list of the 10 Best Latin Music Videos of July. Anuel AA later appeared on the single "Whine Up" from Nicky Jam's album Íntimo, released on November 1, 2019.
In January 2020, Anuel AA collaborated with Shakira on the song "Me Gusta", which interpolates Jamaican reggae band Inner Circle's 1992 hit "Sweat (A La La La La Long)". Rolling Stone called the song "an unhurried lover’s rock number with a delicate touch of dembow". He featured on Bad Bunny's 2020 album YHLQMDLG on the song "Está Cabrón Ser Yo". On April 3, 2020, Anuel AA released "3 De Abril" which commemorates the day that the artist was arrested, leading to prison time. The song reflects on his troubled youth and the challenges he faced while incarcerated. Suzy Exposito of Rolling Stone called the track a "sobering commemoration". Also in April 2020, Anuel AA released the single and video for "Follow" with Karol G, recording it entirely while in quarantine in Miami due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On May 27, 2020, he announced and revealed the tracklist for his second album, Emmanuel, which was released on May 29. Anuel AA had originally planned to release the album in April, but postponed the date due to the pandemic. On the day of the album's release, he promoted it by launching three luxury yachts off the coast of Miami's Isle of Normandy neighborhood. Each yacht had the name Emmanuel written on the side and played his music at high volume. The rapper explained his promotional strategy by saying, "Everybody does their release party in a club. And with coronavirus? I wouldn’t go to the club right now!" The 22-track double album features collaborations from Bad Bunny, Enrique Iglesias, Travis Barker, Tego Calderón, Karol G, Lil Wayne, Farruko, Yandel and Ñengo Flow. Regarding the title of the album, the artist explained, "It's my name and it means 'God with us'. I wanted the album to have that good vibe. It's my life, made into music."
2020: Retirement comments and Los DiosesEdit
In November 2020, Anuel AA indicated in an Instagram post that he was retiring from the music industry. On 19 November, he released a new track, “Me Contagie 2”, in which he talks about depression, indicates unhappiness with his relationships and expresses anguish at the fact that his career often takes him away from his young son, who has asked him to retire. He closes the song with the statement "In these Grammys, I retire". The comments have left his fans in a state of confusion about his future plans, as it appears that he has yet to make a more formal announcement of retirement.
Musical style and influencesEdit
According to XXL, Anuel AA is considered "one of the founding fathers of Latin trap music". He is noted for his signature "BRRR" adlib, which is meant to mimic the sound of an automatic firearm. Anuel AA's lyrics often discuss sex, crime, and life on the streets. Paul Simpson of Allmusic described his lyrics as "too risqué to be played on the radio" and highlighted that his success has instead stemmed from streaming services and the artist's highly active social media presence. Gary Suarez of Vice viewed his 2018 album Real Hasta la Muerte as a collection of both "gleaming trap bangers" and "reggaeton crowd pleasers". Despite his "bad guy image", Suarez wrote that the relationship-themed songs "Culpables" and "Secreto" represent "a softening of his hardened trapero persona". Anuel AA is noted for his use of the word "bebecita" ("baby") in songs and on social media, and the word has become associated with the reggaeton genre as well as Anuel AA and Karol G's relationship.
Anuel AA's introduction to hip-hop occurred upon listening to rapper Tupac Shakur. His songs frequently pay homage to both U.S. and Latin artists that influenced him in his youth. Examples include "China" which samples both "It Wasn't Me" by Shaggy and "Ella Me Levantó" by Daddy Yankee, and "Delincuente" which interpolates "Bandoleros" by Don Omar and Tego Calderón. He is influenced by, and has collaborated with, American hip-hop artists Meek Mill and Gucci Mane, both of whom, like Anuel AA, gained notoriety for serving time in prison. Describing Meek Mill's impact on his music, Anuel AA explained, "I listen to what people say in the songs, not just the melodies. With rappers you gotta listen to what they say. And, Meek be talking some real shit. That’s why I look up to him." In an interview with Vice, he expressed admiration for the music of bachata artist Zacarías Ferreíra, Dominican dembow rapper El Alfa, and English singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran. He has also indicated an interest in collaborating with Post Malone and Billie Eilish.
On September 15, 2018, Anuel AA released a diss track called "Intocable" aimed at fellow rapper Cosculluela. The track was widely criticized due to its profanity and remarks about homosexuality and HIV/AIDS patients. In the song, he refers to transgender model and television host La Taína as a "pig" for her HIV-positive status. Due to the public backlash, Anuel AA's concert at the Coliseo de Puerto Rico venue, scheduled for October 12 of that year, was canceled by his production staff and main producer Paco López. Anuel AA later issued an apology for the song. He explained, "It is the worst mistake of my career. I do not need this and I apologize to all the people I offended. To homosexuals, to people with AIDS, to La Taina [the model] and to those who lost everything after Hurricane Maria ... My fans deserve from me to be a better person, and I apologize to everyone in Puerto Rico."
In early April 2019, Anuel AA and Ivy Queen engaged in an argument on Instagram after Anuel AA questioned how Ivy Queen could be still considered the "Queen of Reggaeton." Anuel argued she hadn't had a hit song in more than 7 years, and further questioned if Karol G should be considered another "Queen of Reggaeton." Followers on Instagram speculated about why he made the comments. Ivy Queen responded with comments about where she came from and how she was a pioneer, paving the way for other women to follow.
Anuel AA has a son named Pablo Anuel from his former spouse, Astrid Cuevas. Anuel AA met Colombian singer Karol G in August 2018 on the set of the music video for their song "Culpables", a month after his release from prison. In January 2019, Anuel AA and Karol G confirmed their relationship. On April 25, 2019, Karol G arrived at the Billboard Latin Music Awards wearing a "massive" diamond ring, confirming the couple's engagement.On March 2021 they were reported that the couple called it quits after nearly 1 year engagement.
Anuel AA was arrested and held in the Metropolitan Detention Center, Guaynabo on April 3, 2016, with three companions when police found three pistols including one stolen, nine magazines, and 152 bullets. He signed a plea deal, accepting a 30-month sentence in federal prison, on gun possession charges. Following his arrest, the #FreeAnuel movement became popular among his fans as he continued to release tracks from prison by recording his voice over the phone.
While incarcerated, Anuel AA spent 90 days in solitary confinement following an incident with another inmate. During his trial, he stated that the lyrics in his music did not represent his true character. The presiding judge Aida Delgado-Colon said she had never heard any of his songs. In March 2018, Anuel AA was released from federal prison into a state prison in Miami. During this time, he told Billboard that while imprisoned, he kept listening to the radio and to what was happening in the streets, to draw inspiration for his songwriting.
Awards and nominationsEdit
|Teen Choice Awards||Choice Latin Song||"Baila Baila Baila"||Nominated|
|People's Choice Awards||Latin Artist of 2019||Himself||Nominated|
|MTV Europe Music Awards||Best Caribbean Act||Won|
|Premios Tu Música Urbana||Male Urban Artist - Puerto Rico||Nominated|
|Artist of the Year||Nominated|
|Remix of the Year - International||"A Solas"||Nominated|
|"Ella Quiere Beber"||Nominated|
|Collaboration of the Year - International||Nominated|
|Song of the Year||Nominated|
|Album of the Year - International||Real Hasta la Muerte||Nominated|
|Video of the Year - International||"Asesina"||Nominated|
|Latin American Music Awards||Artist of the Year||Himself||Won|
|Favorite Male Artist||Won|
|Favorite Urban Artist||Won|
|Album of the year||Real Hasta la Muerte||Won|
|Favorite Urban Album||Won|
|Song of the Year||"Ella Quiere Beber"||Nominated|
|Favorite Urban Song||Nominated|
|Billboard Latin Music Awards||New Artist of the Year||Himself||Won|
|Social Artist of the Year||Nominated|
|Top Latin Album of the Year||Real Hasta La Muerte||Nominated|
|Latin Rhythm Album of the Year||Nominated|
|Premios Juventud||Best Song: Can't Get Enough of This Song||"Ella Quiere Beber"||Nominated|
|Best Song: Singing in the Shower||"Secreto"||Won|
|Best Song: The Traffic Jam||"Ella Quiere Beber"||Won|
|Can't Get Enough... (Best Social Artist)||Himself||Nominated|
|Couples that Fire Up My Feed (Best Couple)||Anuel AA & Karol G||Won|
|Premio Lo Nuestro||Revelation Artist of the Year||Himself||Won|
|Heat Latin Music Awards||New Artist of the Year||Won|
|Billboard Music Awards||Top Latin Artist||Nominated|
|Top Latin Album||Real Hasta la Muerte||Nominated|
|MTV Video Music Awards||Best Latin Video||"Secreto"||Nominated|
|2020||MTV Video Music Awards||Best Latin Video||"China"||Nominated|
|Premios Juventud||The artist that everyone wants to sing with||Himself||Nominated|
|Best dance choreography in a music video||"Whine Up"||Nominated|
|Couple or friends that appear on each other's feeds||Anuel AA e Karol G||Won|
|Songs you listen to while stuck in traffic||"China"||Won|
|Best collaboration song||Won|
|Artists that post with their pets||Karol G y Anuel AA con Goku||Won|
|Unexpected collaborations||"Me Gusta"||Nominated|
|Premio Lo Nuestro||Remix of the Year||"Baila Baila Baila"||Nominated|
|Urban Collaboration of the Year||"Secreto"||Won|
|Urban/Trap Song of the Year||"Delincuente"||Nominated|
|Social Artist of the Year||Himself||Won|
|Billboard Latin Music Awards||Social Artist of the Year||Nominated|
|Hot Latin Songs Artist of the Year, Male||Nominated|
|Hot Latin Song of the Year||"Otro Trago"||Nominated|
|Hot Latin Song of the Year, Vocal Event||Nominated|
|Airplay Song of the Year||"China"||Nominated|
|"Baila Baila Baila"||Nominated|
|Digital Song of the Year||Nominated|
|Streaming Song of the Year||"Ella Quiere Beber"||Nominated|
|Latin Rhythm Song of the Year||Nominated|
|"Baila Baila Baila"||Nominated|
|Latin Grammy Awards||Best New Artist||Himself||Nominated|
|Record of the Year||"China"||Nominated|
|Best Urban Fusion/Performance||Nominated|
|Best Urban Music Album||Emmanuel||Nominated|
|Best Rap/Hip Hop Song||"Narcos"||Nominated|
(with J Balvin and Jhay Cortez)
|Best Urban Song||"Adicto"||Nominated|
- Simpson, Paul. "Anuel AA - Artist Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved April 16, 2020.
- Leandra, Victoria (August 20, 2019). "Why Latin Trap Pioneer Anuel AA Is Currently Obsessed with Ed Sheeran". Vice. Retrieved April 16, 2020.
- Exposito, Suzy (June 19, 2020). "Anuel AA Would Like to Reintroduce Himself in New 'Emmanuel' LP". Rolling Stone. Retrieved June 19, 2020.
- Flores, Griselda (April 16, 2020). "Anuel AA & Casper Magico Make Magic With New Collab 'Sola & Vacía': Exclusive". Billboard. Retrieved April 16, 2020.
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- Exposito, Suzy (April 3, 2020). "Anuel AA Commemorates Jailversary on New Track '3 de Abril'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved April 16, 2020.
- "Anuel AA Talks Love, Fame & Prison in New Billboard Podcast 'El Factor Latino'". Billboard. August 23, 2019. Retrieved April 16, 2020.
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- Bustios, Pamela (July 31, 2019). "'China' Debuts at No. 2 on Hot Latin Songs Chart for Anuel AA, Daddy Yankee, Karol G, Ozuna & J Balvin". Billboard. Retrieved August 1, 2019.
- Torres, Bianca (July 22, 2019). "Hip-Hop Junkie: Anuel AA Sees Parallels Between Himself and Meek Mill". XXL. Retrieved August 3, 2019.
- Exposito, Suzy (July 31, 2019). "Play It Again: The 10 Best Latin Music Videos of July". Rolling Stone. Retrieved April 16, 2020.
- "Viva Friday Playlist: Nicky Jam's 'Intimo' Album & More". Billboard. November 1, 2019. Retrieved April 17, 2020.
- Exposito, Suzy (January 13, 2020). "Hear Shakira, Anuel AA Yearn for Romance in New Song, 'Me Gusta'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved April 16, 2020.
- Flores, Griselda (March 2, 2020). "6 Essential Tracks on Bad Bunny's 'YHLQMDLG': Editors' Picks". Billboard. Retrieved May 8, 2020.
- Mahadevan, Tara C. (April 3, 2020). "Anuel AA Reflects On Being Arrested Four Years Ago With New Song "3 De Abril"". Complex. Retrieved April 16, 2020.
- Cobo, Leila (May 27, 2020). "Anuel Reveals 'Emmanuel' Album Release Date, Plus Track List". Billboard. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
- Espinoza, Joshua (May 28, 2020). "Anuel AA Drops Double Album 'Emmanuel' f/ Bad Bunny, Lil Wayne, and More". Complex. Retrieved May 29, 2020.
- Raga, Pippa (November 2020). "Is Anuel AA Retiring... En Serio?". Distractify. Matters Media, Inc. Retrieved November 29, 2020.
- "¿Anuel AA se retira del mundo del reguetón? Estrena emotiva canción" [Anuel AA withdraws from the world of reggaeton? Premieres an emotional song]. El Heraldo de México (in Spanish). November 20, 2020. Retrieved November 30, 2020.
- Carol, Joan (November 20, 2020). "Anuel AA incendia las redes con su posible retirada y ruptura con Karol G" [Anuel AA sets the networks on fire with his possible withdrawal and break with Karol G]. El Periódico (in Spanish). Barcelona, Spain. Retrieved November 29, 2020.
- "¿Anuel AA, novio de Karol G, anunció su retiro de la música?" [Did Anuel AA, Karol G's boyfriend, announce his retirement from music?]. Semana (in Spanish). Colombia: Publicaciones Semana SA. November 20, 2020. Retrieved November 30, 2020.
- zadok, Zoreno (January 22, 2021). "ALBUM: Anuel AA & Ozuna – Los Dioses". corejamz.com.
- "Reggaeton Slang 101: Decoding the Lyrics in Latin Urban Music". Billboard. January 16, 2020. Retrieved May 4, 2020.
- "From 'Vaina Loca' to 'Bebesita,' How Urban Artists Declare Their Love in Reggaeton Songs". Billboard. February 13, 2019. Retrieved May 4, 2020.
- "Anuel AA, Farruko & More Urban Artists Revive Old-School Reggaeton Hits: See the List". Billboard. July 23, 2019. Retrieved May 4, 2020.
- Fernandez, Suzette (September 13, 2018). "Anuel AA Apologizes For Offensive Song Directed at Cosculluela: Watch". Billboard. Retrieved December 29, 2018.
- Arroyo, Juan J. (September 13, 2018). "Anuel AA Apologizes for Homophobic Diss Track: "This Has Been My Biggest Mistake"". Remezcla. Retrieved April 16, 2020.
- Herrera, Isabelia (April 8, 2019). "Ivy Queen Responds After Anuel AA Questions Her Title as the Queen of Reggaeton". Remezcla. Retrieved June 6, 2019.
- Fernandez, Suzette (April 9, 2019). "Anuel AA se enfrenta a Ivy Queen tras nombrar reina del reggaetón a Karol G" [Anuel AA faces Ivy Queen after naming Karol G the Queen of Reggaeton]. La República (in Spanish). Archived from the original on August 28, 2019. Retrieved April 21, 2019.
- "Anuel AA confiesa que Karol G salvó la relación con su hijo - El Diario NY". El Diario La Prensa (in Spanish). October 18, 2019. Retrieved December 24, 2019.
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- "Anuel AA: El cantante de trap salió de la cárcel tras cumplir 30 meses de condena" [Anuel AA: The trap singer was released from prison after serving 30 months of sentence]. El Heraldo (in Spanish). May 15, 2018. Retrieved December 29, 2018.
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