Squeaky-clean reggaeton duo RKM & KEN-Y have made a brand out of merging the dem bow beat with Disney-esque lyrics. And while their competition struggles to keep reggaeton relevant among club-hoppers, they’re focusing on a new audience: tweens. The Puerto Rican duo—who recently voted for their Pepsi MAX Field of Dreams team during the MLB All Star game in Phoenix—have nearly 1.5 million "likes" on Facebook, where dozens of young fans have posted photos holding a copy of their new album, "Forever."
Ken-Y, real name Kenny Vazquez, talked to us about keeping his street cred in the reggaeton game while being a role model to teenagers, his first crush on an older woman, and the girl who holds his heart today.
What are you up to?
We’ve been on tour for our last album, “Forever.” We’ve been in Venezuela, the United Stated and Puerto Rico. We’re preparing to take it to Europe in August.
You say “Forever” is all about first love. What was your first love story?
I was so young, I was like thirteen. I was in school. She was older than me by two years, I was thirteen and she was fifteen. I actually gave her a ring. It was a friendship ring. We had those phone calls where you never want to hang up, ‘you hang up first, no you hang up first’ that kind of thing. It made me a grown-up man. I was too young, but things happen.
Is it hard keeping your cred around hard-talking reggaetoneros when you sing about teen romance?
Every artist has to be different. We are the romantic duo of reggaeton, people know that. It’s part of us, it’s the way we are in life. The romantic songs are a way to get to the heart of the people. We’ve got fans from five years old ‘til forty years old, and older. It’s not the same old thing, singing about the same parties and the same words that people usually hear about the woman. We have different words, our lyrics are romantic.
Do you have to watch yourself at concerts because there might be ten-year-olds in the audience?
We have to be very careful about what we do and what we say, because a lot of young people like our music. We have to be very selective, not only what we do on stage but off stage. People look at us like role models. We don’t want to inflict some damage on the young people who come to our shows. We have a big responsibility because people watch us and try to do what we do. It can be hard, but I like it. I enjoy all the stages in my career.
We hear you have a new girlfriend in Puerto Rico. How do you keep the romance alive in your relationship?
We talk a lot. We go to dinner, go to the movies. It’s different because now I’m 26, I’m more mature…but we act like kids. I think that’s real love. We act like we’re in high school. It’s very sweet.
How long have you been together? Is it difficult being faithful when you’re on the road so much?
We started dating like four months ago. Maintaining a relationship in this industry is very difficult. You have a lot of people who come to your shows who want to meet you, hug you, kiss you, want to caress you…
Wait, that sounds like a lyric from an R&B song…
[Laughs] You just have to know how to deal with it. You have to trust each other a lot. And, you know the Skype thing right? The Skype thing?
Yeah, the Skype thing…
Well, we use that a lot to keep in touch. That way I can see her every day. The most important thing is communication.