Rapper Fuego Is Set to Raise the Bar for Latin Hip-Hop in 2017

Miguel "Fuego" Duran prepares for what's to come in 2017.
Jaime Aquino
Miguel "Fuego" Duran prepares for what's to come in 2017.
Coming up on the streets of Washington, D.C., Miguel “Fuego” Duran evolved from a gutter lyricist under the supervision of his late friend DJ Menace to an international sensation who works under Mr. Worldwide. His Spanish rhymes and catchy records have gained popularity in Latin America and in Europe. As we enter 2017, Fuego’s new year's resolution is to raise the bar for Latin hip-hop via his upcoming album, Fireboy Forever 3.

Fuego’s urge to alter the perception of Latin rappers stems from his rookie days as a rhyme slinger on the rise in D.C. in the early 2000s. His creativity ran wild on tracks such as "Aquí Conmigo." He caught the attention of Chencho of Plan B at a club in the D.C. area as he opened for Plan B and Daddy Yankee. After that show, Fuego’s dreams of becoming an established rap star began to flourish.

“[Chencho] called my phone,” the 35-year-old Fuego says as he reflects on how he got his break. “That’s how I met him... I was just a kid in the hood... We spoke for like a year on the phone and emailed until he invited me to Puerto Rico to work with him.”

In 2005, Chencho signed Fuego to Chosen Few Emerald Entertainment Inc., not long after his first major placement on the label’s compilation album, El Draft de Reggaeton. At first, the label helped him tremendously. He was able to drop three mixtapes: Demasiado Avanzado (2007), La Música del Futuro, Vol. 1 (2008), and Amor y Fuego: The Mixtape (2009). The label also allowed him to link with Rick Ross to create their single “Hustlin’ Time” for Chosen Few III: The Movie. They officially met on the set of the video for the track. Fuego felt more humbled than ecstatic about the one-of-a-kind experience with the Bawse. Afterward, Fuego made a permanent move to South Florida. He landed in Homestead and then in downtown Miami.

Fuego also tapped into his deeply embedded roots in the Dominican Republic, where his parents were born, and cooked up “Mi Alma Se Muere” for CF3. He released his debut album, La Música del Futuro in 2010 under Chosen Few. While he kept working on new material, “Mi Alma Se Muere” became his first major international hit and would eventually hit the eardrums of fellow mambo king Omega “El Fuerte” and the 305’s own Pitbull. Both internationally known artists jumped on the official remix to "Mi Alma Se Muere," which ignited dance floors across the world.

Fuego’s career was rising. Although he sat comfortably on cloud nine, he began to get the feeling something wasn’t right. He admits he should’ve looked over his contract with Chosen Few more carefully. However, his rookie mistake caught up with him years after the contract was signed. Fuego began to feel creatively constrained.

“In the long run, things didn’t start adding up, and we didn’t have the same vision,” he says. They had one vision for me, and I just knew it wasn’t my vision. So I couldn’t give in to that.”

Fortunately for Fuego, that's no longer the case. A couple of weeks before the end of 2016, he sat outside Circle House Studios in North Miami as if he were lounging during a 15-minute break. He greeted his go-to beatmaker, DJ Chino, who arrived to prepare for their studio session. Although he’s a household name in Latin hip-hop, Fuego can be quiet at times. But that all changes when he’s in the studio.

Fuego's music has reached new heights since he joined Pitbull’s Mr. 305 Inc. in 2013. When Fuego thought there was no way out of his situation, Pitbull’s right-hand man, Robert Fernandez, helped bail him out. Fuego’s trap-like sound has always been in his stash, but his record deal didn’t allow him to pursue it the way he does today. With everything he’s been through over the years, Fuego has been able to mature his sound and add his own touch and opinions.

“They said they had a good deal for me, but I was still signed under Chosen Few. I was dealing with that for a long time, so they went ahead and got me out of that situation. I’ve been with them ever since," he says of Mr. 305 Inc. "It’s been good. They give me the support I need and freedom to do whatever I want to do.”

Not only does he work on his own unique records, but also he has mastered the art of covering some of the most dope records in the music industry. In 2015, Fuego set the internet ablaze with his cover of Drake’s “Hotline Bling,” Travis Scott’s “Antidote,” and Yo Gotti and Young Thug’s “Rihanna.” Fuego’s next cover might remind you of two MCs who call themselves “Black Beatles.”

Fuego finally experienced the limitless power of his creativity as he worked with artists such as Sensato, Farruko, and Notch for his label debut, Fireboy Forever: The Mixtape. After it dropped at the end of 2014, Fuego couldn’t wait to get to work on the second installment. Since its release at the top of 2016, Fireboy Forever 2 continues to impress longtime fans and garner new followers. As we tread carefully into the new year, the new Pembroke Pines resident is itching to give devotees his third serving, but he promises to take his time.

“I am working on Fireboy Forever 3, but people are hanging on to Fireboy Forever 2. If I shove it out of the way and bring Fireboy Forever 3, I already know it’ll be a whole new monster. Fireboy Forever 3 is going to be on another level compared to the last one.”

Fuego plans to reconfigure Kap G’s smash hit “Girlfriend” and expand his ambitions to work with superstars such as Jay Z and Future, as well as the new generation of MCs like Kodak Black and 21 Savage. While he plots out his other plans for 2017, Fuego's prime focus is to complete Fireboy Forever 3, which is expected to have a unique list of features as well as production from DJ Chino, and 808 Mafia's Southside and Steve Lean. While we await the third installment of his mixtape series, Fuego guarantees he has several more tricks up his sleeve to keep his fans at bay.