He grew up in a multicultural environment. His mother was part Jamaican and part Trinidadian. His father was part Panamanian and part Colombian. Franco was just six years old when his mother left their family behind.
She moved to New York City in hopes of making a better life for herself. Faced with having to make something of his life on his own, Franco resorted to selling sodas, washing cars, and shining shoes. His business side was already showing at the age of 10. “I thought my life would always be a struggle shining shoes,” said Franco.
Musically inclined, by the age of 12 he was already writing songs. He would write about things that were going on in Panama City at the time. The media more often than not ignored tragedies in his neighborhood. So Franco took it upon himself to aware his community on what was going on.
He would sing and record songs on cassettes and would distribute them to the bus drivers. The bus drivers would play the songs throughout their routes, informing the passengers as they were traveling through the town. “When the community was in an upward and the police didn’t do the right thing, we put it into a song and made people aware. We were like a newspaper.” Fast-forward to 1985, Franco found himself migrating to the United States and reuniting with his mother.
He moved to New York where he attended the School of the Performing Arts Erasmus Hall, located in Brooklyn. While in school he served as a math tutor and President of the Latin Club. He graduated later in 1987. One year after his graduation his parents persisted on him going back to writing music.
At the same time a friend returning from the Navy offered Franco his first uniform, Franco’s stage identity “El General,” which means The General, was born. Next a Jamaican music producer offered to record his music. The pieces all started to fall into place when he released his ever-legendary first single, “Tu Pum Pum.” His first single was recorded in Spanish but became and instant hit in the English market and airwaves. Franco gave new meaning to the phrase “bumpin’ and grindin’.” His music enjoyed airplay in the U.S.
on both the Power 100 and Latin charts. His follow up single, “Te Ves Buena” conquered three markets at once. He held top five positions on the Power 100, US Latin and Jamaican Reggae charts. El General has chosen to include live versions of these two signature songs on his upcoming album.
El General is the original multi-cultured singer/songwriter/producer and actor. He fused the intricate elements of rap, dancehall reggae, salsa, merengue, house, jazz, R&B and calypso to create an entirely new sound that would be forever recognizable as his own personal style. His creativity and ability to “think outside the box” equated him to becoming a platinum-selling sensation around the world. What El General had done was unique and when others tried to imitate his style he just moved on and created another signature trend.
Soon after, El General's third smash single with RCA "Muevelo" was awarded MTV’s International Latin Video of the Year award, making him one of the first Latin artists to receive this award. "Muevelo" was the first Spanish video played on American MTV. He was also awarded Billboard's first-ever award for "Best Latin Rap Artist.” After winning it the first time he started a streak winning it consecutively for the next five years. Even more impressive is the fact that the award was practically created due to his groundbreaking work in the Latin reggae and rap department.
He also received a very prestigious award from Premios A.C.E (Association of Chronicle Events) for Best Latin Artist. It was becoming obvious that his music was being enjoyed by people of all ages. He was serving as a mentor for the younger and teenage community. Many kids imitated his singing and unique style of dance.
His debut LP, Move It Up was released in 1998 with Polygram, which is known for its long term alliances with international multi-million dollar artist like Bob Marley. The majority of his new songs on his upcoming album are performed in English. El General has made some major performances at some of the biggest well known venues across the U.S. and around the world.
He’s graced the stages of Madison Square Garden, The Hollywood Bowl, Disney Land, The Orange Bowl, San Diego Sports Arena, The Los Angeles Convention Center, Disney World House of Blues, and Billboard Live. Being the type of person to always give back to the community and to the kids, he’s made classic appearances at many benefit concerts and telethons for many Latin countries like Chile, Peru, Guatemala, Mexico, Venezuela, Panama and Colombia. His expertise has also been used in judging beauty pageants like Nuestra Belleza. One of the most prestigious awards he has received is the Key to the City in many different cities around the globe.
El General donates a percentage of his album sales to his foundation Ninos Pobres Sin Fronteras. The organization awards young people who show interest in becoming productive individuals with a three year scholarship. While he has contribute to the community he has also contributed to the music industry, helping many young acts pave their way. He took C+C Music Factory to the top of the Latin pop charts, performing on their breakout hit “Roby Rob’s Boriquen Anthem.” The song set records for airplay in Los Angeles.
It was getting played 10 times daily, beating out the current contender at the time, Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”. Presently he has built his own recording studio and is giving new and upcoming artists the opportunity to show their talent. Many upcoming young artists have taken El Generals classics, and remade them. In fact, 35 of El General’s songs have gone on to be remade by other artists.
His songs have also been featured in movies and as anthems for worldwide sporting events. In 1994, “Latinos a Ganar” was chosen to be the Latin song for the World Cup. Off that same album, came the woman’s anthem “Rica y Apretadita.” It served as a song to bash unfaithful men which quickly became a hit among all women. He has also made appearances on film.
He was offered a part in the movie “Buscando un Sueno” in which he played the role of a musical group manager. He shared the screen with actors such as Lauren Velez, Kamar De Los Reyes, Elvis Nolasco, Benny Nieves and much more. Besides performing for millions of people, he’s had the honor of serving as the Grand Marshall for several parades, including the Mexican, Dominican and the very famous Puerto Rican Parade in New York City. He’s also taken part in the Nicaraguan Parade in Miami.
Since 1988 his career has been a success but it’s had its bumps in the road. He had some controversies with the Latin community because of his strong lyrics. The songs that he writes are about everyday life and about things he has experienced. Music is a form of self-expression and no one could deny him that right.
Another controversy has been his attire. Following up to his name, El General gets decked out in a full general uniform in which he has over a hundred different styles and colors. Some countries disagreed with his chosen attire. Augusto Pinochet openly criticized him, "There's only one General and that's me." That never fazed him.
He continued on pursuing his love for music despite people’s personal opinions. Among strews of awards that he’s received over the years some will always stand out and be treasured. He took home awards for each category he was nominated for. The new "Urban" category that year was created especially by Premios Lo Nuestro to accommodate his musical style.
He also took home the awards for Best album of the Year, Best Interpreter of the Year, and the Internet Viewers Award. He was also the last artist to record with the late Queen of Salsa, Celia Cruz, in the song titled "Ella Tiene Fuego". In 2003, he was the recipient of the Billboard "Hope Award" in which he was honored for his work with under privileged kids. In 2003, El General was also nominated for a Latin Grammy Award, for Album of the Year in the Rap/ Hip-Hop category.
That same night he took the stage with Marc Anthony, Gloria Estefan, Olga Tanon, Oscar De Leon, Johnny Pacheco, Willy Colon, Victor Manuel and many other's in a tribute that will be forever remembered for Celia Cruz. He also had a memorable performance at the Calle Ocho Festival, where the fans were wildly jumping and dancing proving that he is one of the most upbeat and charismatic Latin artist in of all time. He has accomplished a lot more as a foreigner than some American born citizens. He’s had strews of Multi-Platinum and Gold Records.
He has been a great influence to many upcoming stars and has become a household name and respected artist in the music industry. Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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