He worked on the label Fania Records and than got the opportunity to replace a vocalist in the orchestra of Ray Barreto.
After the salsa became as a musical genre, it had been marked of the hard critics of salsa in the disk “Sow” (1978) that includes the classic hit “Pedro Navaja”. It happened when this genre left the neighborhood and moved to the dance halls and at the present time hit is the best-selling salsa record in history.
After several years with the Willie Colón Blades decided that he wanted to become independent and formed his own band “Son del Solar”.
The Blades played in several films and television programs usually in supporting roles.
The Last Fight (1983) - Andy 'Kid Clave'
The Return of Ruben Blades (1985) – himself
Crossover Dreams (1985) - Rudy Veloz
Critical Condition (1987) – Louis
Fatal Beauty (1987) - Carl Jimenez
The Milagro Beanfield War (1988) - Sheriff Bernabe Montoya
Homeboy (1988) – Doctor
Dead Man Out (1989) (TV) – Ben
Disorganized Crime (1989) - Carlos Barrios
Heart of the Deal (1990)
Mo' Better Blues (1990) – Petey
The Two Jakes (1990) - Mickey Nice aka Michael Weisskopf
The Lemon Sisters (1990) - C.W
Predator 2 (1990) (as Ruben Blades) - Danny "Danny Boy" Archuleta
The Josephine Baker Story (1991) (TV) - Count Giuseppe Pepito Abatino
One Man's War (1991) (TV) – Perrone
Crazy from the Heart (1991) (TV) - Ernesto Ontiveros
The Super (1991) – Marlon
Miracle on Interstate 880 (1993) (TV) - Pastor Beruman
Life with Mikey (1993) (uncredited) - Angie's Dad
A Million to Juan (1994) – Bartender
Color of Night (1994) - Lt. Hector Martinez
Joseph and His Brothers (1993) - Rubén Blades & Strunz & Farah (narrator of animation video)
Scorpion Spring (1996) - Border Patrolman Sam Zaragosa
The Devil's Own (1997) - Edwin Diaz
Chinese Box (1997) – Jim
Cradle Will Rock (1999) - Diego Rivera
Gideon's Crossing (2000) TV Series - Dr. Max Cabranes
All the Pretty Horses (2000) - Hector de la Rocha
Assassination Tango (2002) – Miguel
The Maldonado Miracle (2003) (TV) – Cruz
Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003) - Jorge FBI
Imagining Argentina (2003) - Silvio Ayala
Spin (2003) - Ernesto Bejarano
Secuestro express (2004) - Carla's Father
Spoken Word (2009)
For Greater Glory - The True Story of Cristiada (2012) - President Plutarco Calles
Safe House (2012) - Carlos Villar
After the political incidents of 1964, where U.S. troops killed 25 Panamanians he stopped singing in English and started to sing in Spanish again.
In 1994 Blades standed for the presidential elections in Panama, after years of militancy and struggle to defend ethnic, cultural and social injustice, he remained in the third position.
Then in 2004 he supported a candidate of the President Martin Torrijos and after the victory he accepted the post of Minister of Tourism in which he led until 2009 and he developed the Panamanian music and tourism.