D'Mingo is a Latin urban artist from Brooklyn, New York, of Puerto Rican descent whose solo career first took flight in the late '90s as a salsero with hip-hop leanings. He then spent the next decade working behind the scenes as a producer and major-label A&R executive at EMI and Atlantic Records before relaunching his solo career in the 2010s. Born Domingo Ramos on August 31, 1973, he grew up on the south side of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, in a neighborhood known as Los Sures. In hopes of keeping her son off the streets, his mother enrolled him in private music lessons at a young age. He learned to play the piano and made his performance debut at age 12, when his teacher, Robert Navarro, went away on tour with Ray Barretto and needed someone to fill his spot in the salsa band Grupo Fascinación. This was a tremendous opportunity for the adolescent D'Mingo, and from that moment onward, he was determined to make music his livelihood.
Years later, D'Mingo left New York for Puerto Rico, where he dove headfirst into the island's vibrant music scene, collaborating with a long list of salsa artists and making connections that would serve him well in the future. While in Puerto Rico, he reconnected with an old friend from New York, Johnny Rivera. The former Grupo Fascinación vocalist had just launched a solo career on the label RMM and was riding high on the success of the hit single "Necesito una Amiga" from his debut album Y Ahora de Verdad (1991). The New York salsa scene was heating up at the time, and Rivera recruited D'Mingo to come home and join his band. Throughout the early to mid-'90s, D'Mingo toured all over the world with a who's-who of New York salsa stars.
D'Mingo's solo career took flight in the late '90s, thanks in part to his La India bandmate Miguel Bonilla, who produced a three-song demo that got him signed to Jellybean Benitez's label H.O.L.A. Recordings. D'Mingo's debut album, Que Vacile Mi Gente (1997), was a New York salsa album more or less typical of the style at the time, tinged with hip-hop and house beats. The album spawned a fairly big hit, "Rumba," for which D'Mingo is best remembered, though the follow-up album Rumbero Soy (1999) proved less successful.
With D'Mingo's solo career sputtering at the turn of the century, along with H.O.L.A. Recordings itself, he turned to collaboration. He teamed up with fellow Latin urban artists from New York such as Cuban Link, Tony Touch, and Angie Martinez, most notably appearing as a featured guest on the Hot 97 FM DJ's 2001 hit single "Live at Jimmy's." Upon relocating to Miami, he collaborated with up-and-coming Latin rapper Don Dinero on his debut solo album, Que Bola!: Cuban Connection (2002). When that album spawned a Latin tropical crossover hit single with "Pana Pana," D'Mingo got a call from EMI, which wanted him to produce an album by Puerto Rican rap legend Vico C. The resulting album, En Honor a la Verdad (2003), was a tremendous success, winning a 2004 Latin Grammy for Best Latin Urban Album and spawning an underground hit with "El Bueno, el Malo y el Feo" featuring Eddie Dee and Tego Calderón.
In addition, EMI hired D'Mingo to serve as their Director of A&R, and he was instrumental in building a label roster of Latin urban talent in line with the reggaeton movement then coming into fashion. He helmed a series of Guatauba various-artist compilations on EMI, the first of which, Guatauba Mixtape (2004), is notable for its album-opening showcase of Daddy Yankee. Just then breaking through to international success with "Gasolina," Daddy Yankee had been active in the Puerto Rican underground scene for a few years prior and had collaborated with D'Mingo in the past. Underground connections such as these made D'Mingo an invaluable A&R executive during the mid- to late-2000s reggaeton boom. His close ties with Calderón in particular led to another executive A&R job, this time at Atlantic Records.
By the end of the decade, however, the reggaeton movement had run its course, and the major-label recording industry in general was in dire straits. It was at this juncture that D'Mingo relaunched his solo career on the independent label Corso Music. He reintroduced himself with Mi Tracyectoria: The Mixtape (2011), a compilation of his best-remembered songs from the past along with new material. His first commercial release of the 2010s was the single "Tu Me, Tu Me," which was produced by Young Hollywood, as was the follow-up single "Adios." These new singles were a departure from his past work, blending up-to-date urban beats with time-tested Latin rhythms in a radio-friendly pop format. ~ Jason Birchmeier
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