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Charting rapper and singer Andrés Felipe Zapata Gaviria is better known by his stage name Wolfine. He is one of the true progenitors of Colombian reggaeton and urban music in South America. His sound often melds Colombian folk music and its instruments with cumbia rhythms and cutting-edge electronica and dub. His high tenor slips effortlessly between singing and rapping. He has collaborated with international recording artists such as Master, Mexican, King Chesta, Thirstin Howl, Voltio, and Kafu Banton, charting a new course for reggaeton in South America. Wolfine was born the eldest of three boys in Medelin in 1978, a particularly dangerous time in Colombia's history. The vast majority of his childhood friends ended up in gangs and/or cartels; many ended up dead before they were 20. His father was a pharmaceutical chemist who owned a drugstore in the Castilla district. His mom ran a food truck. She had a customer who called himself Funkat who had lived in the United States and regularly arrived at the truck wearing a ball cap and low-slung baggy pants that exposed his underpants and basketball shoes. Wolfine wanted to imitate him. Eventually his mom gave up the food truck and fostered Wolfine and his brothers' immersive interest in hip-hop by taking them to rap gigs. She also sponsored their competitions in local hip-hop contests. Wolfine began writing lyrics and developing a musical style that used cumbia and reggaeton as a base. His mother also financed his first recordings, such as the single "Scarface: The Untouchable" and "Smile." Funkat was struck by Wolfine's music and began recording more music on cassettes while telling him stories of hip-hop icons. In 1998, Wolfine established himself as a professional in Medellin with groups such as Komplot, RH Klandestino, and Kafein. As a part of these groups, he participated in the most important music festivals in Colombia, achieving public recognition for his manic performing energy. He became one of the first urban artists to achieve the rotation of two of his homemade videos on Latin MTV. Wolfine ventured into acting in 2008, scoring a co-starring role in the film Hoy Marte with Alvaro Rodríguez. Two years later he released his first reggaeton song, "Si Te Toco," which hit the number one spot on Medellín's airplay charts and remained there for three months, thus establishing a fan base among young people. In 2011 he scored again with the chart-topping "Escápate Conmigo," which managed to occupy the first place on virtually all the radio stations in the country for 28 weeks, breaking records in Colombia's urban genre. "Escápate Conmigo" also rang up more than 50 million views on YouTube, establishing the singer's credentials in Peru, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, the United States, and Europe. In 2012, Wolfine won two Premios Shock awards as best artist or urban group and best new artist or group. That same year he co-wrote and performed the song "Yo Luchare," the theme for Protagonistas de Nuestra Tele, the most watched reality show in Colombia. The following year he issued the full-length La Versatilidad de la Calle. While the album didn't chart at mainstream radio, its singles "Seducame," and "Escápate Conmigo" did. Over the next four years, Wolfine issued another handful of singles and wrote for and collaborated with other artists including Alberto Stylee and Mia Music. In January of 2017 he dropped the international breakthrough single "Bella" that landed in the Top 20 in Chile, Peru, Argentina, and Spain. The video scored more than four million views on YouTube, and remained in the charts for more than 25 weeks. Wolfine promoted all of his earlier music on tours of the United States, Mexico, Chile, and Argentina, while writing new tunes before entering the studio to record his sophomore album.
© Thom Jurek /TiVo


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