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Calderón was born in Santurce, Puerto Rico, the son of Pilar Rosario Parrilla, a schoolteacher, and Esteban Calderón Ilarraza, a government worker for Puerto Rico's Department of Health.Moving at a young age from his native Puerto Rico to Miami, Florida, Tego attended Miami Beach Senior High.
Here he was exposed to several different cultures, eventually studying percussion and working as a drummer in a rock band. The band would cover songs produced by artists including Ozzy Osbourne and Led Zeppelin. He has noted that both of his parents were fans of Ismael Rivera, and that his father was also interested in jazz. He was influenced by both genres and incorporated them into his music, including songs such as Minnie the Moocher. He eventually developed a music style that combined elements of salsa, plena, dancehall, and hip-hop, focusing on aspects of urban life in his lyrics.