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date: 28 March 2020

Colón, Willie locked

1950Salsa music pioneer who started his recording career when he was only sixteen years old.
  • Juan Otero-Garabis


Willie Colón was born in the Bronx in New York City. His first album, El malo (The Bad Guy, 1967), gave him the image by which he was known for the first decade of his career. This image made fun of the negative stereotype of violence attributed to Puerto Rican communities in New York City, especially those perpetuated by Hollywood movies. With some of his lyrics, this Mafia-style image contributed to develop the identity of the Puerto Rican community in New York with Salsa Music.

Some of Colón's lyrics are urban chronicles that narrate the life of the Puerto Rican barrio in New York, while other songs emphasize the African heritage of Puerto Rican culture. Colón and his band's lead singer, Héctor Lavoe, introduced the jíbaro sound into salsa Jíbaro music comes from the Spanish heritage of Puerto Rico while salsa is based on Afro ...

A version of this article originally appeared in Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience.

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