Ivy Queen is the queen of Reggaeton. Born in Puerto Rico as Martha Ivelisse Pesante Rodríguez in 1972, Ivy Queen has been a force to be reckoned with in the music scene since 1995. Although she isn’t played on the radio as much as she used to be, the contributions, success, and doors that Ivy Queen has opened up for women in music and the reggaeton genre as a whole cannot be overstated. Ivy Queen literally changed music forever.
Reggaetón is the blend of two Black Caribbean genres, reggae and hip-hop. Reggae en Español was born in Panama during the construction of the Panama Canal and Black Caribbean immigrant, Kool DJ Herc, created hip-hop in The Bronx. The two sounds traveled across the Caribbean and in Puerto Rico artist started playing around with the sounds and rapping on Spanish over the beat thus reggaeton was born. Reggaeton was a very male dominated genre and was full of explicit content and language. Puerto Rican authorities went as far as saying that the genre was harmful to women. Enter Ivy Queen, a young, tough, lyrist that could rap, sing, and battle with any man in the genre.
Ivy Queen was quite literally the only woman in the genre for years. Getting her start in underground clubs in Puerto Rico she has recounted rap-battling men in the well-known club The Noise. “I watched and studied. I saw that he [the reigning champion] would always pick on how people looked. When you want to kill the ego of a man you talk about the size of his package, and it’s over honey. I killed his ego” she chuckles. Killing egos, keeping up, and sometimes out doing her male peers in the genre are just a day in the life of Ivy Queen.
Of course, as a woman her appearance has always been picked apart. People would make rude comments about her deep voice but she saw it as an asset, “someone said ‘your voice sounds so masculine’ but guess what, that is my bless[ing] because it means no one else would sound like me.” She’s right. No one has compared to her since. The recipient of 24 awards of the 50 she has been nominated for Ivy Queen is the highest awarded woman in reggeatón to date. The holder of 10 studio albums across an almost 15 year career which has reached international acclaim Ivy Queen continues to be a woman in her own lane. The lane she created for herself. Not only is Ivy known for her ability to rap along some of the best out there, she is also a producer, songwriter, and singer.
Her breakout hit “Quiero Bailar” is an anthem for femmes everywhere. In this song, Ivy is singing about her sexy dance moves, her love of reggaeton, and celebrating her sexy appeal and how all of these things are not an invitation for unwanted aggression from men. Released in 2003, this song was literally a Millennium anthem for women that loved reggaeton, loved themselves, and were over the assumptions made about women that loved to dance bien pegadito. Ivy’s presence and influence in the male dominated genre proved that women can and do hold multiple truths at once.
Another one of her singles, “La Vida Es Así,” is another anthem for all the badass ladies out there. The lyrics tell the story about the cheating and underhanded ways in which men can treat women and how to boss up after such an experience. “La Vida Es Asi”is still the perfect post break-up song out there.
Ivy Queen is truly the queen of duality. Her deep voice, slim muscular frame, and ability to rap better then some men combined with her long flowing hair and famous perfectly shaped and highly decorated nails all make sense and work whether she’s strutting in a pair of the highest stilettos you have ever seen or rocking sneakers.
Ivy Queen continues to be the reigning Queen of reggaeton (and nails) and deserves all the respect on her name and achievements.