In 1991, Latin-American singer Gerardo had a huge hit with Rico Suave a blend of English and Spanish rap called "Spanglish." The song made Gerardo one of the first Latin dance artists in mainstream music, and opened the door for the Latin pop explosion. He's back with a new album called Gerardo: Fame, Sex, Y Dinero.
More than a decade ago, Gerardo became a Latin pop pioneer with the novelty tune Rico Suave. He now prefers the Spanish pronunciation of his name, Gerardo. He explains how he first developed a light, fun way to make mainstream music fans aware of Latin music.
"It was kind of a parody of the Latin male," he says. "Right before that song, the reason why I became an artist was because I was acting and I was doing a lot of roles in movies. And everything was so negative, that I made up this character, Rico Suave, the Latin honcho, macho man type of thing. I looked at it as more of a positive way of a Latin role model for the people out there. Especially for the males, who said, 'Yeah, that's right, we're just like that.' " When he was a child, Gerardo and his family emigrated to the United States from Ecuador. He studied and became an actor, appearing in films such as Colors and Can't Buy Me Love. In the aftermath of Rico Suave, Gerardo became an executive for Interscope Records, and has been helping to develop the careers of Enrique Iglesias, Bubba Sparxx and others. Gerardo tells why he thought it was a good time to make his comeback as an artist.
"Last year, it was 10 years since Rico Suave came out, and everybody at the label said, 'Come on, you've got to do something.' So I ended up last year doing a song, just a single for Thump Records called Sigo Siendo Rico which is the equivalent of Still Dre for Dr. Dre, still Rico," he explains. " It was another fun song and it got a great response. The video was Top 10 in a lot of the outlets. I didn't want to go back into this unless I knew that there was an audience out there for me to come back to."
A tune from his Gerardo's new album, Es Gerardo updates fans on what he's been doing for the past 10 years.
While his Spanish-speaking listeners have been with him throughout his career, Gerardo thought his new album Fame, Sex Y Dinero would be a good way to re-introduce himself to the English-speaking audience.
"It was made for the bilingual people here. It's English and Spanish, back and forth, back and forth," Gerardo says. "I was just going to do an all-Spanish album, but you're in the studio and things just come up and you say, 'This sounds great in English, why not?' So we started doing it that way, and this album just turns out to be everything I'm about, the music that I love, a little hip-hop here with salsa, a little merengue, a little dance music, club. This is all that I'm about, this is all the music that I love."
Most of his songs include some rapping, however, Gerardo says the subject matter is different than his hard core, hip-hop counterparts.
"I'm not the typical rapper that talks about the negative. I haven't grown up in the 'hood', I'm not political, I'm not into that whatsoever. My music is more like to get you away from all that stuff that you hear on the news, and to take you away from that and enjoy and dance a little," he says.
Gerardo was recently featured in People magazine's "Sexiest Men" issue. During the month of May, he'll be performing live at dance clubs across the U.S.