Willie Colon and Hector Lavoe were very instrumental in Salsa's success during the late '60s and throughout the '70s and '80s. Under the banner of Fania Records, this duo pushed the boundaries of traditional Salsa, and, in turn, became worldwide superstars, touring Central and South America, and cities all across the Eastern Hemisphere, most notably, Paris.
To get a grasp of just how big these guys were, consider this: The Fania All-Stars shut down Yankee Stadium in 1973. The damage the stadium sustained during the show, caused by those in attendance dancing the night away, put Bronx Bombers' last month of home games in jeopardy. It was an electric time in New York City. Willie's revolutionary trombone-backed production shifted Salsa's mambo and boogaloo (Latin R&B) to a more street-oriented sound, with lyrics that reflected the harsh realities many artists skirted around. With the help of Hector's beautiful voice, the duo were able to have commercial success and still stay street.
They produced powerful love ballads, chaotic Latin Jazz instrumental tracks, and street tales that told of the barrio's ills on numerous classic LPs. They provided a soundtrack for a generation of Nuyoricans that gave them something to identify with. The Bronx was diaspora for transplanted Puerto Ricans, and Willie and Hector were able to tap into the streets like no one else—an attribute that can easily be seen on their album art.
They were Gangstarr, they were the Neptunes and the Clipse, they were Puffy and Biggie, Dre and Snoop. Meet salsa's original gangsters.
Angel Diaz is a Staff Writer for Complex Media. Follow him @ADiaz456.