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SOG breaks down his 10 favorite reggaetón beats of all time

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Normally when people talk about game-changing figures in the history of reggaeton, names like Daddy Yankee, Tego Calderon, Ivy Queen, Wisin Y Yandel tend to come up. If we bring the conversation to a more contemporary plane, a Bad Bunny, an Ozuna, or even a wonder that moves between the two sides, Arcángel, would surely be on the table.

There are few occasions in which the north of this type of talks tends to be directed towards the visceral sandungueo of DJ Blass, the contagious marroneo of DJ Rafy Mercenario, the fantasy mamboteo of DJ Joe, or simply wanting to know in depth the motivations behind  DJ Playero, DJ Negro or DJ Nelson, proceres of a non-existent genre and that they knew how to mold to their measure.

For almost three decades, reggaeton producers have challenged themselves over and over again, raising the sonic level, the technique and the meticulousness behind the different components involved in creating a song from scratch and then releasing it to conquer the entire planet. Every hit we know today has a methodical chef behind it, heroes who from the shadows have decided to trade pillows for keyboards and synthesizers in order to see their neighborhoods, their streets and their people enjoy a product made with care and sacrifice from the humility of an old desktop computer in a small, dark room.

In Medellín, Santiago Orrego Gallego has been forging his own legacy as a producer for more than 10 years. Born and raised in the heart of the Santander neighborhood, located in the northwest of the city and popularly known as “the best corner of Medellin”, it was there where Santiago began to build what years later would become his banner as a music maker: the sounds of the ghetto.

Surrounded by the purest popular and neighborhood culture of his city, music came into his life thanks to his grandfather, who at a very young age showed him his love for the guitar and the Antioquian tiple. Years later, this first love mutated into a devoted admiration for several of the North American rock bands of the moment: Blink 182, Sum 41, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Papa Roach.

Yet, almost in the blink of an eye, a simple CD and a computer program would become the turning point for the artist’s upcoming career. A cousin asks Santiago to borrow his tape recorder, who doesn’t hesitate to do her the favor; a couple of days later, the recorder is back, this time with a red and “burned” CD, as bootlegs are called in Colombia. When Santiago presses play, a little guitar pluck gives way to a chorus that says: “En la disco bailoteo, mezclamo’ un fumeteo, eooo…”. The year was 2003 and the song was by Puerto Ricans Wisin & Yandel, produced by producers Luny Tunes & Noriega.

At the same time, around those same days, a close friend had shown Santiago a music making program called Adobe Audition. He was totally fascinated. Once he absorbed the basic knowledge of it, he began to take advantage of it within his own school: his girl classmates who danced in the talent shows needed someone to mix all the songs of the performance, so Santiago began to earn $5000 pesos (almost a dollar) for leaving the CDs just the way they wanted them.

These two situations would become the starting point for a new direction in Santiago Orrego Gallego’s life: now the love for rock became an overflowing love for an unknown genre that step by step was taking over the streets of Medellin, and with this new music a new name would appear, a new game-changing project: SOG.

From there, almost as if the universe was waiting to conspire in his favor, SOG took the musical reins without a second thought. That’s how the first fruits of his new career as a producer began to arrive: “Tu cuerpo me llama”, released in 2011, quickly became a national hit; along with Yelsid, the romantic reggaeton artist at the time, he released hits such as “El bus”, “Volverás” and “Perdida”. In 2017, already with a hard-earned recognition in the local arena, he co-produced with Dayme & El High and Ronald El Killa the song “Sensual Inspiration”, by Jowell & Randy and Farruko.

The following year he arrived at one of the most recognized record labels in the city, Kapital Music, where he began to develop his own sound that, together with a new golden generation of producers and composers such as Sky Rompiendo, Mosty, Bull Nene, Ovy On The Drums, The Rudeboyz, Jowan & Rolo, Feid, among others, would mark the magic formula that would place Medellin in the eyes of the whole world. While at Kapital Music he began to work with new names of the local scene such as Totoy El Frío, Natan & Shander, Nath, Blessd, Flako Gallego and Ryan Castro.

The latter, a classmate from the same Diego Echavarría Misas school in the Florencia neighborhood, would become his partner of a thousand battles, a dynamic ghetto duo that would quickly position itself as the most disruptive revelation of Colombian reggaeton.

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“Despite being at the same school, Ryan and I weren’t that close, but we both had little crews of friends who made music. He was a year after me. When we left school, we started to have more contact through social media, then we lost touch because Ryan was going to live abroad for a couple of years. Despite the distance we kept talking, and when he decided to return from Curaçao, just a few days before the pandemic started, the only thing we talked about was getting into a studio. The pandemic got us started making music, and the rest is history!”, says SOG, who since then has not stopped appearing in the credits behind several of the most popular songs in Colombia’s recent years.

“Jordan”, “Monastery”, “Quién TV (Remix)”, “Wasa Wasa”, “Malory”, “Mujeriego”… hit after hit, anthem after anthem, all coined by a phrase –popularized by Ryan Castro– that would become a sort of reggaeton war cry that would resonate throughout the country: QUÉ CHIMBA, SOG!

When asked about Medellín’s reggaeton and what it means to him to now carry the banner of the city’s ghetto sounds, SOG seems to travel back to the streets of his humble beginnings in the so-called “best corner of the city”.

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“I grew up in the hood, watching all my parceros with their cars on the corner drinking beer. I grew up with my Antioquian family listening to Rodolfo Aicardi and Pastor López, and if you go into detail, the bass of these artists and their songs is something very tasty that people love. It immediately gets you dancing and having a good time. That was always my goal: to make music that goes back to the roots and always makes you want to dance. I think that’s what Medellín’s reggaeton represents, the joy of the guys from the hood, the joy of some kids locked up in a studio trying to get ahead. All that sacrifice and hustle is rewarded when you go to the club and see people shouting your songs, dancing and being happy”.

These are the ten reggaeton tracks that shaped the career of one of the producers who is, once again, changing the rules of the game in Latin America: SOG.

 

Wisin & Yandel – “En la disco bailoteo”

This was the first reggaeton track I ever heard. When I heard this track, papi… damn! I was too much of a rocker, but once I lent my tape recorder to a cousin who was very into reggaeton, everything changed. She left a red bootleg CD inside, I remember it like it was yesterday. As soon as I hit play on that CD and that little guitar intro started to play, it changed everything for me. “What kind of music is this, man?”, I said to myself… and look where we’re going.

Baby Rasta & Gringo feat. Plan B – “Ella se contradice”

The sound it starts with, that sort of arpeggio, made me very curious and got me thinking 24/7. I had already been exploring arpeggio tools for a while, but when I heard that song, it just blew my mind… what a way to use that shit! The whole sonic structure of the song really stuck with me.

Nova & Jory feat. Daddy Yankee – “Aprovecha”

Man, when this song came out, I couldn’t believe I was listening to such a thing. I remember that they didn’t release it right away, but through a preview, and from that moment on you could already feel that nobody was doing that kind of production. We have to give Musicólogo & Menes the props, those crazy guys came with that futuristic sound and changed the game. I remember that at that time everything was very romantic, and those who did perreo always fell into the same formula, but these guys came with those futuristic elements and nailed it.

Randy – “Lokita”

I’m also a big R&B fan, so when I heard Randy’s “Lokita”… I was about to cry! When I heard that song it was something unforgettable. Because that’s what I love about R&B, songs that have a nostalgic essence but that don’t become something depressive or so down. Those nostalgic chords give life to the song. That’s why all these songs I mentioned have a dark touch, but at the same time they also transmit something nostalgic and romantic.

Don Omar – “Aunque te fuiste (Vuelve)”

This is an iconic song. It was something very disruptive for the time, because everybody was doing reggaeton, and then Don Omar arrives with Eliel and they release this bomb. From the production aspect it was something very creative, like achieving that kind of hybrid using elements of hip hop or other genres, I thought it was very cool.

Arcángel – “Tengo tantas ganas de ti”

These kind of futuristic tracks, you hear them today and you just wonder: damn, how did these guys do that? These are sounds that are still very hard to find. The metrics and the structure of the elements, things that make you get excited and wonder how in that time they managed to put together something so brutal. This is a song that I think is very well elaborated.

Gotay “El Auténtiko” feat. Ñengo Flow – “Qué quieres de mí”

These guys brought back the essence of perreo with those kicks and the way the structure of the song explodes. It was a very advanced composition for the time, especially those kicks in the intro. And it came out at a time when everyone began to have a particular taste for bass, all the cars in the hood competed for who had the most bass. All my cousins in their cars started to play this kind of songs, even my family when they got together. That’s when I realized that some hard-hitting kicks are always going to make people fall in love with the song.

Bad Bunny x Jhay Cortez – “Dákiti”

Of the new songs, this one I could definitely say is my favorite. I think it’s a complete bomb, it’s absolutely dope! One of those tracks that transport you to another place, and even more considering the video of the song, you hear that melody and you’re almost at sea with them. This is a clear example of electronic sounds well used. I feel that people really like this kind of sounds, but without being too strident. Even genres like guaracha have been lowering the intensity to use more “lounge” and calm chords and pads. The BPM of “Dákiti” is much faster than a conventional reggaetón, but the approach they achieved with the electronic elements is incredible.

J Álvarez feat. Ñejo & Dálmata – “Sexo, sudor y calor”

This is another track that changed the game. I identify a lot with those kinds of songs that make history, because thank God I have had the opportunity to produce songs that have caused a similar sensation. For example, when “Tu cuerpo me llama” came out, people were in a very Puerto Rican vibe, in a very Puerto Rican reggaeton. We arrived with a dancehall made here, with the flavor of our own Caribbean, and from there many songs began to be made along the same lines. “Mujeriego” with Ryan is another case, a formula that was not on anyone’s radar, but we took the risk to do it and it has been another hit. That’s why I really appreciate these songs that are so different from the spectrum that marks certain periods.

Nicky Jam – “Yo no soy tu marido”

This is the clearest example of an instrumental that speaks for itself. A track that from the moment the first sound is heard, people already know what is coming and which song it is. The simple fact of listening to those shots at the beginning, man… there are songs that you’ll always listen to, even if the years go by and new stuff come along, this kind of classics will never be forgotten. Precisely for that reason, I could confidently say that this song is my favorite reggaeton of all time.

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