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Don Omar

Don Omar

Don Omar (aka "El Rey" and "King of Kings") became one of the first reggaetonero superstars, thanks to his debut long-player, 2003's platinum-certified The Last Don. Omar's songs are, more often than not, different from those of his urbano peers. They tend to be socially conscious, deep, and worthy of reflection, set in melodic verses and hooky refrains, especially for socio-politically minded Latinos. Certainly he can fire up the party too, as proved by 2005's "Reggaeton Latino" single, one of the genre's first genuine crossover hits. (Its resulting album, King of Kings, landed at number seven on the Top 200, and topped both Top Latin Albums and Latin Pop Albums charts.) In 2017, he announced that he would retire after a series of concerts at the José Miguel Agrelot Coliseum in Puerto Rico. Instead, he followed his appearances with "Ramayana" (feat. Farruko), the lead-off single and video for 2019's The Last Album. It topped the Latin charts and paved the way for another full-length, 2020's Sociedad Secreta.

Born William Omar Landrón on February 10, 1978 in Villa Palmeras, Puerto Rico, Omar involved himself in the church at a young age. He became a preacher, and in fact, it was in this role that he began honing his performance ability as well as his deep insight into the human soul. He eventually left the church (a matter later addressed in his song "Aunque Te Fuiste") and channeled his talents toward music. It wasn't that far of a stretch from his days in the church, and Omar quickly took to the burgeoning reggaeton movement then sweeping through Puerto Rico. His big break came courtesy of Héctor el Bambino (aka Héctor el Father) of the popular duo Héctor & Tito. Initially, Omar produced and wrote songs for the duo, but it wasn't long before he was given the opportunity to collaborate with them vocally, and was featured on the song "A la Reconquista." His solo career took off around this same time, with one of his first hits being "Desde Que Llego" in 2002. He made his album debut the following year on the VI Music label with The Last Don (2003); it was a landmark for the reggaeton movement, which was just beginning to make inroads into the lucrative stateside market. The album featured extensive production work by Luny Tunes and Eliel, who would quickly become the style's go-to hitmakers (the former in particular), and it spawned a few hit records, including "Intocable" and "Dile." Omar scored more hits with Luny Tunes on their mixtape CDs, most notably "Entre Tú y Yo" from Mas Flow and "Dale Don Dale" from La Trayectoria. One of his biggest hits came on the Chosen Few compilation. "Reggaeton Latino" was the perfect anthem, an empowering rallying call of Latino pride, arriving just as reggaeton was spreading like wildfire throughout the coastal urban centers of the U.S. in the summer of 2005. The song was so popular in the U.S. that a remix was quickly issued to further the crossover possibilities. This bilingual effort featured well-known Latino rappers N.O.R.E. and Fat Joe, and was the second reggaeton song to get MTV airplay in the States, not to mention crossover radio airplay. The success of "Reggaeton Latino" affirmed Omar's status alongside Daddy Yankee and Tego Calderón as one of reggaeton's true leaders, and of them, he was clearly the revolutionary: A man of passion with a voice that sought to uplift his people to brighter days, not unlike what he had sought to do in his previous profession as a preacher, but now with an emphasis on the secular, and with a much, much larger following.

Following a live album, The Last Don: Live, in 2004, and a best-of/remix compilation, Da Hit Man Presents Reggaeton Latino, in 2005, Omar released his second proper album, King of Kings (2006). It easily debuted atop the Latin album chart; more notably, though, it reached number eight on the Billboard 200 overall album chart, the first reggaeton album ever to break the Top Ten. In the wake of the album's big debut and the popularity of lead single "Angelito," which was a number one hit, Omar released a couple mixtapes -- Los Bandoleros Reloaded (2006) and El Pentagono (2007) -- which featured hits such as "No Se de Ella (My Space)." The futuristic concept album iDon arrived in 2009, with a protégé showcase, Don Omar Presents Meet the Orphans, following in late 2010. Its sequel, MTO²: New Generation, arrived in 2012, and was another number one Latin hit. MTO² won Best Urban Music Album at the 2012 Latin Grammy Awards. Omar scored two hit singles in 2014, "Guaya Guaya" and "Soledad," and both were included on his next album, The Last Don 2, released in June of 2015. It claimed the top spot on the Top Latin Albums chart and peaked at 73 in the Top 200 and number six at Top Rap Albums. It also made the Top 50 on the year's Album Sales charts. Its singles, "Soledad" and "Perdido en Tus Ojos," featuring Natti Natasha, both placed in the Top Ten on the Latin Airplay chart. In January, he followed with the collaborative single "Te Quiero Pa'mi," with Zion & Lennox. It reached 14 at Tropical Airplay. Omar issued the pre-release single "Encanto" featuring Sharlene Taule in March of 2017. The record placed in the Top Ten on digital streaming and download lists, and peaked at number 11 on Latin Pop Airplay while its video racked up over 8.5 million views. Omar kept busy touring but claimed he would retire after a series of gigs at Puerto Rico's José Miguel Agrelot Coliseum. That didn't happen. Instead, he began crafting a new album in 2018. Its first single, "Ramayana" (feat. Farruko), topped the Hot Latin Songs Chart, while its video racked up over 85 million views. The finished album listed several producers including Eliel Lind, Mambo Kings, and Luian Malave. In addition to the Farruko track, it included "Encanto" with Sharlene Taule, "No Te Vayas" with Alexis y Fido, and "Fire" with Jory Boy and Mr. Phillips. At the time of its release, Omar stated in an interview that the date wasn't his final outing at all and announced the release of Sociedad Secreta in 2020. A single, "Flow HP" with Residente, arrived in 2021, followed by "Let's Get Crazy (Mambo Drop)" with Lil John and the Wisin and Gente de Zona-assisted "Soy Omo" in 2022. Collaborations with Randy ("Entregame Tu Amor"), Cosculluela ("Bandidos"), and Chencho Corleone ("Podemos Repetirlo") appeared in 2023. ~ Jason Birchmeier

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