For reggaeton artist Big Mato, the love of music is something intrinsic to his core. "Music to me is like the blood that runs through my veins," states the Queens-based rapper. Big Mato (Government name Leonardo Vasquez) burst onto the global music scene in 2004, when he was featured on the reggaeton mega hit "Oye Mi Canto", alongside N.O.R.E., Nina Sky, and Daddy Yankee.
That track, which was an omnipresent force in the Latin community, stamped Big Mato as an artist destined for greater success in the music industry. Before reaching that apex in his career, Mato started out in Queens, NY, in the epicenter of hip hop.
"I lived in Queens surrounded by Hip Hop mostly all my life," Big Mato reminisces. "I gained my knowledge growing up in Queens while hip hop developed and blew up all over the world. It was right in Lefrak/Corona Queens where I lived the culture and got the chance to experience graffiti, freestyling at the park, singing in the lunchroom or the bus, the block parties, the hooky jams, playing handball, seeing the stars of my hood making it big like Kenny Anderson, N.O.R.E, Akinyele, and The Beatnuts. My every day life in Queens really helped me shaped to the artist I've become today.
During his youth in Queens, Mato was exposed to an eclectic musical variety that would ignite his passion for music. Among the many groups and artists that he listened to were hip hop pioneers Erik B and Rakim, Slick Rick, LL Cool J, Mobb Deep, Big Pun, and Capone-N-Noreaga. Hector Lavoe, Wayne Wonder, Buju Banton, Barrington Levy, Antony Santos, Fernando Villalona, El Safiro, Nando Boom, and Leonardo Fabio also received regular airplay in his room, which would help to plant the seeds of reggae and Latin mix that accompanied his hip hop roots.
Of all the artists he spun in his younger years, Mato cites Hector Lavoe, Buju Banton, and Big Pun as his primary influences as an artist.
The process by which Mato goes about creating his lyrics suggests a sincere commitment to quality in his work. "Before I hit the booth I usually like to sit with the beat and create ideas and write them down in my blackberry," begins the MC, "or I just dump the beat in my Ipod and write to it when I'm on the road. I can also get down in the vocal booth and come up with melodies and lyrics on the spot. I also like to take more than a day with one song, that's because I like to do excellent work and this way I get the chance to perfect it."
With the mouthpiece afforded him as a recording artist, Mato relates an interest to affect the world for the better. "With my music I wanna deliver a positive message to the people and at the same time a good feeling when they listen to it. My work is filled with different vibes catering to all ages. People will definitely enjoy my music whether they're at home, at a party, at a BBQ, driving or just listening to their Ipod."
Refusing to rest on his laurels despite his recent success, Mato is back on his grind capitalizing on his momentum with his solo debut album "Lo Real". "This project means a lot to me because it's my introduction as a solo artist," states Big Mato. "It's like my secret weapon to establish myself as a potential artist with a bright career ahead."
Aside from his solo project, a ring tone deal with Barrio Mobile is in the works that will expose Mato to a vast audience of consumers.
Summarizing his music as "real", Big Mato has high aspirations for his career as an artist. "My aspirations as an artist are to have a successful career and get to help the world to be more peaceful.
Big Mato, in spite of his perch as a breakout artist, remains true to his fans. "The fans, they mean everything to me. I feel proud of myself every time a fan comes up to me to take a picture or to get my autograph. It inspires me to keep growing as an artist and make better music." Mato continues, "The fans really keep me going and as long as they wanna hear my music, I will keep delivering it to them."
The fans speak volumes as a force, as evidenced by the meteoric rise of reggaeton during the 21st century. Not content to simply ride the wave, Mato looks to innovate the genre with his own unique stylings. Mato states, "I see a bright future for reggaeton. I think it is definitely here to stay, just like hip hop, reggaeton will keep getting bigger. At the moment reggaeton artists are delivering more originality with their music, and I'm gonna do the same but in my own way with my own original ideas. I think as long as we keep bringing new fresh ideas to the genre it will remain here."