Fuego’s Latin-Flavored Trap Brings The Heat To Red Bull’s ‘Culture Clash’
Trap music continues to be recognizable in the music realm with new anthems and artists climbing the charts. As easily as it’s noticed by the ears of hip-hop enthusiasts in its traditional, bass-heavy form, it continues to be reimagined, proving its far-reaching notoriety.
Fuego (government name Miguel Duran) is living proof of trap’s expansion past its hometown of Atlanta. The Washington, D.C. native is making waves in the industry with his Latin trap hybrid music production, which has gained the attention of acts like Rick Ross and Pitbull.
Since making his way on the scene, he’s worked with Farruko, Zion & Lennox, Pitbull, and J Balvin among many others. With several mixtapes and projects under his belt, he released his latest LP, Libre: Fireboy Forever in June 2018. You may have heard his 2010 hit, “Que Buena Tu Ta,” and his viral Spanish cover of Drake’s “Hotline Bling” from 2015.
During Red Bull’s Culture Clash competition held in Atlanta on Friday (Aug. 24), Fuego and his crew Fireboy Sound, duked it out against rap producer Zaytoven, dancehall artist Kranium and electronic producer Mija, along with Kenny Beats and their respective crews.
While they didn’t take home the trophy in the end against Kranium, Fuego’s crew, consisting of Fatboy SSE, DVLP, Happy Colors and Internet sensation Pio, brought the heat to his stage and entertained the crowd over four rounds. His crew’s energy was through the roof, and the addition of smoke machines and sparklers added a different level of hype to the stage during Fuego’s sets.
“My trap music is turnt up, I have real Latin trap,” the Dominican-blooded music maker tells VIBE about his Latin-tinged hip-hop sound. “People love it.” On the response to his Libre: Fireboy Forever album, Fuego says that he was somewhat anticipating fans to say “his earlier stuff was better,” however, the response has been favorable.
“I didn’t even see one comment like that, so that made me feel good,” he grins. “I worked so hard and brought in people who are my family. [The album] has stuff that I recorded like two years ago, and I had some personal stuff together that I had put together for my fans.”
Music was always an interest to Fuego. His father was a musician and growing up in D.C. in the ‘80s and ‘90s with a host of multicultural friends gave way for Fuego to learn about and listen to tons of hip-hop and rap. He cites Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Biggie and 2Pac as some of his favorites. Through his Latin upbringing and interest in a large gamut of music, Fuego decided to fuse the sounds that fueled his youth.
“For some reason, I’ve always wanted to do a sound that American hip-hop has, and then break that my way,” he explains. “When it comes to putting stuff together and making fusions of music, I’ve done it all my life. When I first started out, I did reggae beats, but I was rapping over them. There’s a little more urban, hip-hop sound in the Latin community. Before, it was mad reggae. It either had to be a tropical type song or reggaeton song. I’ve always wanted to come out with hip-hop music, and in 2016, I was able to do an entire trap album with Latin vibes. It was the way I wanted and it was something special to me.”
Fuego is living proof that trap music continues to take on many forms outside of the ATL. He believes that there are many ways that other countries and cultures are introducing trap, and that he appreciates American trap for the real-life narrative it portrays.
“Latins doing Latin trap is just showing that people f**k with [the style],” he says. “It’s expanding more. They were already trappin’ in other countries, doing their own version of those records, but Americans are doing it more melodic. The melodic stuff is more universal than a rap song. That Southern, dark trap? It’s more of a story. They’ve turned a negative sort of thing into something huge. People love that.”
While there are many trap artists burning up the charts, Fuego believes that there are two trap icons who stand out from the pack who have inspired others with their approach to the sound.
“Future and Gucci [Mane],” he says with a smile. “I think a lot of people sound like them! They’re just the influence for everybody. Other artists, smaller artists, they’ve gotta try to have their own evolution from that sound, and make different stuff. Hey, even work with Latino artists! [Laughs] Just work with different people and get that different vibe.”