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Grupo Karis

A Puerto Rican merengue quartet with boy band looks and crossover appeal, Karis were a mid- to late-’90s tropical airplay favorite. They enjoyed several major tropical airplay hits during their short run, namely “Esa Nena No Me Quiere,” “Tu Foto,” “Manecumbe,” “Bandolera,” “No Vale la Pena,” and “Tus Ojos Son,” before losing three of their four founding members by the time of their fourth — and, for many years, final — album in 2000. After a resurgence in the popularity of tropical music in the wake of the reggaeton uprising, the Puerto Rican group reunited for Los 4 Fantasticos (2007), a moderately successful album for Pina Records that spawned a couple hits and found them well adapted to contemporary musical styles.

Formed in 1993, Karis were originally comprised of vocalists Angel Perez, Richard Nivar, Juan Luís Guzmán, and Héctor “Tito” Bonilla. The group debuted in 1996 with …Y Sigue and scored a big hit with “Esa Nena No Me Quiere,” which peaked at number three on the Latin Tropical/Salsa Airplay singles chart and number eight on the Latin Pop Airplay chart. The follow-up single, “Tu Foto,” was also a hit, breaking into the Top Ten of the Latin Tropical/Salsa Airplay chart. The group’s second album, El Poder del Swing (1997), continued the success, boasting three additional charting hits: “Manecumbe,” “Bandolera,” and “No Vale la Pena.” Karis’ third album, Yo Voy por Ti (1998), spawned another major hit, “Tus Ojos Son,” sung by new group member Raúl Armando, who had replaced the departed Angel Perez; however, this third album marked the farewell of group members Juan Luís Guzmán and Héctor “Tito” Bonilla, the former going on to join merengue rivals Grupo Manía. The subsequent Karis album, Power of the Swing: The Come Back (2000), featured a couple additional replacement members but tanked in the marketplace, spawning no noteworthy hits. Karis essentially disbanded at this point.

Seven years later, the Yo Voy por Ti-era lineup of Raúl Armando, Richard Nivar, Juan Luís Guzmán, and Héctor “Tito” Bonilla regrouped for 2007’s Los 4 Fantasticos, an album for Pina Records. Showcasing a much different style of music, one tailored for the contemporary marketplace, Los 4 Fantasticos is brief at only nine tracks and often leans toward reggaeton without abandoning the group’s merengue roots. A pair of singles, “Chocolate” and “La Amas Como Yo?,” the latter featuring sweet-voiced vocalist Ken-Y of reggaeton hitmakers RKM & Ken-Y, became respectable tropical airplay hits for Karis and were popular enough to judge Los 4 Fantasticos a moderately successful comeback for the mid-’90s merengue favorites.

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