Emmanuel Gazmey Santiago, (born November 26, 1992) known professionally as Anuel AA, is a Puerto Rican rapper. He is considered to be one of the first pioneers of the Latin trap movement. His father, José Gazmey, was the vice president of Sony Music in Puerto Rico and was friends with the rapper Tempo. He studied at the Catholic school Colegio María Auxiliadora which was located in Carolina. Ever since his early teen years, Gazmey showed great interest in music. In 2010, he decided to become a rapper using his father’s influence to secure a deal with the record label Maybach Music Group.
Backed by his father, Tempo, and fellow rapper Ñengo Flow, Anuel AA released his first song with Ñengo Flow, “Demonia” in 2011. This was followed several collaborations with the likes of Jory Boy, Magazeen, De La Ghetto, Arcángel, and Ozuna. Gazmey rose to prominence following the hit “Esclava” alongside Bryant Myers, Almighty, and Anonimus. His first single hit “Sola” was very well received and was followed by a remix featuring Daddy Yankee, Wisin, Farruko, and Zion & Lennox. His music theme relates to issues such as street life, violence, sex, and drugs. One of his most popular catchphrases in his songs is “Real Hasta La Muerte” or “Real Until Death”.
Gazmey was arrested and held in the Metropolitan Detention Center, Guaynabo in with three companions when police found three pistols including one stolen, nine clips, and 152 bullets. He signed a plea deal for 30 months in federal prison for gun possession charges. Following his arrest, the #FreeAnuel movement became viral among his fans as he continued to release tracks from prison. Being able to record his voice over the phone, Anuel AA mostly participated in collaborations with other artists such as Nicky Jam, Cosculluela, Bad Bunny and J Balvin. While incarcerated, Gazmey spent 90 days in solitary confinement following an incident with another inmate. During his trial, Gazmey stated that the lyrics in his music did not represent his true character. The presiding judge Aida Delgado-Colon said she had never heard any of his songs.
In March 2018, Gazmey was released from federal prison into a state prison in Miami. During this time, he told Billboard that while imprisoned, he kept listening to the radio and what was happening in the streets, to draw inspiration for his songwriting. In April 2018, Anuel AA was featured along with Future and Bad Bunny on the single “Thinkin” by Spiff TV. After being released from prison on July 17, 2018, Gazmey released his first full-length album titled Real Hasta La Muerte which contained 12 songs and landed at number one on the Billboard Top Latin Albums chart in less than 24 hours. In August 2018, he released a song with the New York rapper 6ix9ine called “Bebé”.