For years, Spanish airways and nightclubs have been flooded with Latin exports, but Madrid-born rapper C. Tangana (real name Antón Álvarez Alfaro) is on the frontline of newly-discovered musical independence. Mixing punches with bold fashion choices and luscious visuals, C. Tangana is constantly growing his fanbase and collaborates with all sorts of artists, from local flamenco singer Niño de Elche to American pop star Becky G.

His recent smoky ballad, “No Te Debi Besar,” sees the rapper joining forces with Chilean-American singer Paloma Mami, as well as producer Alizzz, a frequent collaborator. A slick hooligan, a charming bad boy and proud El Madrileño all in one, C. Tangana is a force on stage and a geek in the studio, which naturally makes him one of the most fascinating urban artists in his country—and gives him huge crossover potential.

Even though his music videos exude opulence, when asked about the secret behind his fame, C. Tangana is surprisingly down to earth. “I’ve been working a lot,” he shares, sitting behind the stage at the SHARE Festival in Barcelona. “I’m just a rapper who is trying to make good things in this industry. In Spain, the music industry is very small and close-minded, so it is a lot of work."

But he does feel proud about his special place in Spanish culture: “I’ve been rapping for my whole life but professionally, I’ve been active for three years. Three years ago, only Latin and American artists were in our charts. But nowadays, Spanish artists are also on the radio, on the TV and in the charts. You can say that I was one of the pioneers here."

Genre-wise, C. Tangana’s music is a rich mix of influences, eras and attitudes. “I come from rap and I have a rapper’s mentality. But I love every kind of music. I’ve been playing with electronic music, pop, funk and almost everything. My main influences are Latin music, but not only reggaeton or club music. It’s also traditional Cuban music and salsa.” He’s also very big on collaborating and co-writing, with a resume that includes “Malamente,” his ex-girlfriend Rosalia’s smash hit.

Aside from music, Tangana is also a rising fashion star. The rapper, whose signature style gives off a sort of Al Pacino-meets-Puff Daddy vibe, promises that his proper fashion scene debut is “in the works.”

“I’m just trying to be unique,” he says. “Fashion is moving very fast. We’re working with a friend of mine, who is helping with my creative direction: styling, music videos, artworks, everything. We both came from the hood. We are friends, he studied nothing about trends, but he’s a wise guy with a good eye. Maybe in one year we will start working with clothes properly.”

C. Tangana is also notorious for having beefs with all sorts of colleagues, from Yung Beef to Kaydy Cain. “It’s all good. I’m rapper, it’s all part of the game.” He brushes off the controversy, but admits he’s no stranger to a proper fight.

“I used to box but right now the only person I want to box with is a friend who is trying to become an amateur boxer. He’s gonna fight in about 7 months. Right now he’s getting ready, losing weight, getting himself in shape. I want to test him because we never did it before. I did boxing just for fun.”

If you ever end up in the heat of a C. Tangana live show, chances are you will hear people shouting, “Puchito! Puchito!”

“It’s a nickname given by my mom,” the rapper explains. “It was my father’s and my grandfather’s nickname, too. They’re from the north of Spain. Jose in Spain is called Pepe and Pepe is Pucho. My father was Pucho and I was Little Pucho or Puchito. When my fans learned about this, they started calling me Puchito.”

But “Puchito” isn’t the only nickname of C. Tangana’s, which he adopted from the title of a mixtape he made when he was “about 15 or 16.”

“Back then, I called myself Crema. Later, I changed my sound and my stage name and my audience has split in two: the ones who love it and the ones who hate it. To this day there are people who comment, ‘You were cooler when you were Crema.’”

If you ask us, we think he’s still pretty cool.

Women Latin Artists Who Are On the Rise