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Wise – The Songwriter With the Golden Touch

February 14, 2007

Wise, The Goldpen of Reggaeton
Wise, The Goldpen of ReggaetonTAGS : Wise "The Gold Pen"
After many years of progress and change, Reggaeton music is firmly established in the world. Today it is heard as commonly as a Ballad or Salsa in the 80’s, or like a Merengue in the 90’s. In the same way as other musical genres feature great songwriters who dedicate themselves to compose songs for other artists, Reggaeton is moving that way too. While most fans recognize the song “Down” by Rakim & Ken-Y as one of the great hits of the last few years, it is the superb lyrics that made it unforgettable: “Down! Si no tengo de tu piel…Down! Si no tengo tu calor.” The author of this song is Gabriel Antonio Cruz, known artistically as Wise, and he leads a crop of Reggaeton songwriters who collaborate with singers and producers to create hit songs.

Beginnings: Underground to this day
Born in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, Wise is one of the most experienced performers in this young genre. However, his talent as a songwriter was apparent at a young age, through another music genre: “I identified myself with music since I was 12 years old. I started my career at 13, by writing a song called ‘Hasta El Sol De Hoy’, which was sung by Salsa singer Edgar Joel.” The song went on to be a big hit, and to this day it is still played in some stations. With a bright future ahead of him, the young Gabriel gets his artistic name in New York: “That same year, a producer in NY recognized my talent and called me ‘wise’ beyond my age. The nickname stuck, and I’ve been known as Wise ever since.” At 15 he started to sing his own songs, being part of the original albums by DJ Playero and later on being a fixture in DJ Joe’s records. When asked about what drew him into Reggaeton after his success writing other music, Wise tells us: “I started doing Underground (which was how Reggaeton was called back then) because it represented the streets, the hood and the poor. You could express yourself with what you felt. I like all types of music, but Reggaeton got me in the position I’m in today.”

Wise Da’ Gangsta: Leaves his mark with his albums
After participating in different records in both producer and singer capacity, Wise decides to produce his own album with various artists, as was customary at that time in Reggaeton. The record was called “Wise Da’ Gangsta: La Vieja Escuela” (the Old School), and it came out in 1997, featuring artists like Don Chezina, Master Joe & OG Black, Nicky Jam, and Cabalushi. In this album, Wise collaborates in most of the songs, combining his unique style with other established stars and making this CD a classic. But he wouldn’t stop there. In 1999 he released his second album called ‘Wise Da’ Gangsta: Da’ Moda” (what’s in or what’s hot). This one was full of stars again, including Lito & Polaco, MC Ceja, BF Yaviah, Trebol Clan, Rey Pirin, among others. It was another hit record, in part because of excellent production by DJ Joe, and in part because of the great execution of the concept of the album “What’s hot”. By combining the trend-setting tunes the songs had, with funny but yet accurate depictions of “what’s in” by local radio DJs in the form of interludes, the message was delivered: Reggaeton was here to stay, as its emerging popularity was undeniable. These two classic albums put Wise in rare air, at a time when only a few non-DJ’s were able to produce successful various artist albums. He left his mark in the music right before the boom and expansion it would go through in the following years.

Goldpen: Writing a song
Thousands of songs, a lot of creativity, and the inevitable evolution of styles over time, have all been key to Reggaeton’s development. Amongst these elements, it’s paramount to stay fresh and creative while doing music to keep fans interested. In that regard, Wise is one of many talented songwriters (like Eddie Dee, Mario VI, and Baby Ranks) that contribute their lyrics to other artists, helping to raise the quality of Reggaeton songs, while keeping it from becoming repetitive. Also, they attempt to bring a higher level of songwriting to a genre often criticized for what’s seen as negative lyrics: “I prefer good and clean lyrics, because if my work is good then the public is going to be influenced positively.” At the same time, he wants to destroy the stigma that a rapper has to write his own lyrics to be respected, which is not an issue in other successful genres like Rock and R&B: “From the people that’s making hits right now, about 30% to 40% write their lyrics by themselves.” Wise tells Reggaetonline.net. He also emphasized the attention a songwriter gives to his work: “To me is important that the message transmitted by the artist produces positive things, be it sentimental, romantic or social.”

He’s been so successful lately that sometimes he’s surprised of how far he’s made it: “I never thought this was going to become so important, in terms of writing for others and being recognized like this. I was not prepared for this; there are things that I still don’t assimilate.” This humbleness is understandable, in part because being part of a tight-knit family, as a kid he was very shy. At the same time the love of his family has been instrumental in staying grounded with his success in his career: “My family is very close and they have supported me since I was young in everything that had to do with music.” Wise tells Reggaetonline.net “They are there for me 100% of the time, and they are the reason I’m where I’m at today.”

To this day, Wise and his goldpen have been responsible for hit songs like ‘Sola’ performed by Hector “El Father”, the aforementioned ‘Down’, 'Noche De Entierro' featured in Luny Tunes & Tainy's Los Benjamins and “Te Vas” where he collaborates with Polaco & Felino. Besides Reggaeton, he has penned Bachata songs for the duo Monchy & Alexandra, for breakout star Toby Love, Pop superstar Ricky Martin, and for Julian, brother of Pop sensation Luis Fonsi. However, Wise ‘the songwriter’ is setting his sights on the US market. Also, if given the chance he would like to work with one of the biggest stars in the music industry today: “I would like to get the chance to work with Justin Timberlake. Actually, I just finished writing a song a J-Lo’s movie, and I think that’s going to open many doors for me in the English market.” His future projects include songs for Yomo’s debut album, for the second album Los Benjamins by Luny Tunes & Tainy, and for Zion’s solo album. Furthermore to his busy songwriting schedule, Wise ‘the artist’ is considering offers from various producers to sing, and he already got the concept for his new album, to be called “Goldpen”. In this record he’s going to write 15 songs for fifteen hand-picked artists, which invites us to imagine our dream lineup... Whoever ends up performing in the album, they’ll sure have golden lyrics to work with. With the quality and talent that Wise has shown us thus far, his future in the business has never looked brighter.