Late last month, Gen F artist Magic Juan dropped Quis Calle, featuring new tracks from himself, Big Mato and SPK (of "Oye Mi Canto" fame), OG Black and Master Joe and others. While we were feeling the all-Dominican compilation, we're looking forward to Juan's Sure Bet LP even more - especially with songs like "Sudor (Sweat)" slated for inclusion. Equal parts dancehall, reggaeton and house, ("Calabria"! "El Trago"!), the track comes damn close to summer perfection. Check our profile on Magic Juan from F40 after the jump, and give a listen to his old single "Clap and Wash" on the FADER 40 audio podcast.
Magic Juan is still flipping hits
By Nick Barat
“You remember Black Box?” asks Magic Juan, casually invoking a name not mentioned since the halcyon days of MTV Grind compilations and Ya Kid K. “There was this group in New York doing traditional merengue and their producer wanted to add some dance, hip-hop, whatever, so they covered Black Box’s ‘Everybody Everybody.’ In the original there’s a rap part, so they needed someone to rap in Spanish—that was the first piece of vinyl with my voice on it. I looked at it the way Heavy D and KRS have Jamaican blood and did rap with Jamaican influences. I’m Dominican, so I figured I can do a little merengue, but keep doing my regular stuff.”
The then-teenage Juan’s original plan to focus on rap and merely dabble with music en español was thwarted when that Black Box cover group went on to become Proyecto Uno, one of the biggest merengue acts of the decade. “We ran the nineties!” boasts Juan. “You could turn on Univision and we were the first urban, Timbs and jeans falling off movement that birthed everything you see happening now.” He left Washington Heights to tour the world as Proyecto Uno’s MC, and the group sold millions of records to Latino audiences internationally. But by the end of the decade, Juan would leave to start his own label, releasing solo material and working with local reggaeton artists like Chosen Few and LDA on an independent level.
Today, Magic Juan still has enough name recognition from his merengue days to have his own Magic Juan prepaid phone card for sale in bodegas, but once again a well-timed remix would catapult his buzz as an MC. When TI’s “What You Know” was the hottest single in the country, New York DJs started mixing out into Juan’s “Que Tu Sabe D’Eso”, a bilingual jack of the Tip original. He quickly followed up with a freestyle over Lloyd Banks’s mixtape favorite “Cake,” which dared the majors to sign him (I could hit Atlantic and play ‘em ‘Que Tu Sabe D’Eso’/ But I don’t even think they know what they gon’ do with Tego’) and a particularly candid take on Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” that details the financial trials and tribulations that came with Proyecto Uno’s success. But Juan is saving his most adventurous makeover for his forthcoming Sure Bet LP: a pan-Latin, “Dem Bow”-sampling version of Marley Marl’s posse classic “The Symphony” featuring Joell Ortiz, Chingo Bling, and Cuban Link. “I’m here to educate the younger cats coming in who want to swing this hip-hop,” he says. “They try to swing it, but no one can swing it.”