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Wise "The Gold Pen"

Nombre(s) : Gabriel Antonio Cruz Padilla
Lugar : Bayamón, Puerto Rico

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A powerful, memorable song conveys raw emotion with unstoppable force, each lyric oozing passion and vulnerability. Enter 27-year-old singer/songwriter Wise, born Gabriel Antonio Cruz Padilla in Bayamón, Puerto Rico. The prolific songwriter has penned hit songs for everyone from salsa singer Edgar Joel (for whom he wrote 1996’s bittersweet anthem “Hasta El Sol De Hoy”) to Mexican pop group RBD (including “Lento,” off Luny Tunes y Tainy’s Los Benjamins) and reggaetón star Hector El Father (including “Sola,” the lead single off The Bad Boy). Indeed, Wise’s work is currently topping Billboard’s Hot Latin Songs charts — bachata singer Toby Love’s “Tengo Un Amor” has spent over 18 weeks in the top 10 slots, peaking at No. 2; and the vallenato-tinged reggaetón hit “Noche de Entierro (Nuestro Amor),” off of Luny Tunes y Tainy’s Los Benjamins, featuring Daddy Yankee, Hector El Father, Wisin y Yandel, and Tony Tun Tun, has remained in the top 25 for over 10 weeks, peaking at No. 6.

But it’s Rakim y Ken-Y’s hopelessly romantic single “Down,” which spent two months at the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s Latin charts and fueled sales of the reggaetón duo’s debut Masterpiece that has everyone in the music industry clamoring for a Wise production. The soft-spoken songwriter admits that the inspiration for the song came at the strangest of moments. “I was in the shower — that’s when I do the most thinking, when I’m alone with all my thoughts,” Wise says. “The lyrics just came to me, and I started singing. As soon as I got out, I wrote the words down and recorded the vocals.” The song was so impressive that, even though production had wrapped on the album, record executives decided to include the tracks and, most importantly, to turn it into the lead single.

Wise’s work as both a singer and songwriter is well-known within the reggaetón community. As a youngster, Wise (then known as Wise Da’ Gangsta) linked up with the pioneering DJ Playero and was quickly accepted into the nascent group of rising musicians. “My style was very melodious and romantic, so the older guys would take me to serenade women for them!” laughs Wise. After meeting DJ Eric and collaborating with Don Chezina, Master Joe, and more, Wise went on to release three solo albums: 1997’s Da’ Gangsta (Pina Records), which sold circa 45,000 copies at a time when reggaetón was still struggling for airplay; 1999’s Da’ Moda (VI Music), which solidified Wise’s trademark sound by juxtaposing his tender vocal runs with the dynamic rhymes of guest artists like Trebol Clan, MC Ceja, Don Chezina, Lito y Polaco, and Nicky Jam; and 2005’s critically lauded Da Klasik (Universal Latino).

Though Wise had been writing his own material since the tender age of 15, his first big break as a songwriter came when he penned Lito y Polaco’s “Ella Vive Sola,” the first single off of the duo’s 2004 album Fuera de Serie (Pina Records). “It’s a socially conscious song about a young girl who is abused and falls into a deep depression,” Wise explains. “The machinations of life eventually make her turn to drugs and later, she begins to have unprotected sex and eventually winds up a victim of the AIDS virus.”

Soon thereafter, Wise wrote the moving “Baby, Olvídame” for bachata royalty Monchy y Alexandra (off the duo’s 2004 album Hasta El Fin). Since then, the offers have been pouring in. Luny Tunes y Tainy’s Los Benjamins boasts five cuts authored by Wise: “Noche de Entierro;” the aggressive “Royal Rumble,” featuring Don Omar, Daddy Yankee, Wisin y Yandel, Zion, and even Wise himself; the tender “Hello,” featuring Zion; the playful “Lento,” featuring Mexican pop sensation RBD; and “Contigo,” featuring Puerto Rican R&B singer Jean. Wise also authored, composed, and vocally arranged six songs on Hector El Father’s newly released album The Bad Boy and seven cuts on Zion’s upcoming solo debut on Universal. He’s also already penned the follow-up to “Noche de Entierro,” which will be performed by Don Omar and will appear in Los Benjamins 2.

But Wise’s projects aren’t limited to reggaetón. After working with R&B singer Jean on Los Benjamins, Wise signed on to work on his sophomore album. Wise is particularly proud of the new song “A Tu Lado Sin Tí.” “The song talks about a fading relationship, where the man is sleeping inches away from his woman, but he is unable to feel her presence,” Wise explains. Similarly, his work with RBD on Los Benjamins led to another collaboration — Wise wrote “No Quiero Llorar” for the group’s next album, which is tentatively scheduled for a December release.

Aside from delving into different musical genres with his songwriting, Wise is establishing himself as an entrepreneur, with a new imprint under Sony Urban called Wise Crew. The label’s first act, W7, consists of four Puerto Rican girls and three guys aged 20-24, all of whom sing and play instruments. As the creator and producer of the group, Wise is carefully overseeing their debut, which he hopes to release in March 2007. Audiences will also hear W7 in Jennifer Lopez’s yet-to-be-titled reggaetón film — the group performs the film’s theme song, “Get Down,” which was also written by Wise.

Approaching every endeavor with the desire to make honest, relatable, moving art, Wise is bringing passion back to the music industry — one song at a time.

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