It’s not easy to label Daddy Yankee. Not only is he a pioneer in the world of reggaeton, he has gone multi-platinum and captivated millions of people over the world with his fiery stage presence, but he’s also a successful businessman, producer, and talent scout; all while serving as spokesperson for humanitarian causes.
One thing is clear: Yankee’s resolve never wavers and he’s always willing to stare risk in the face. He brought reggaeton to the masses and with his latest album, El Cartel: The Big Boss, he is sure to elevate the genre even higher. The new project proves to be an evolutionary one, infusing new, ground breaking rhythms with memorable collaborations.
Special appearances by Fergie, Nicole Scherzinger of Pussycat Dolls, Hector “The Father,” Akon and Will.i.am, of the Black Eyed Peas give this El Cartel/Interscope record a global flavor. Akon and Will.i.am also acted as producers, collaborating with reggaeton rhythm makers Eli “El music..logo,” Tainy Tunes, Diesel, Menace and Mr. Collipark.
The first single off the groundbreaking album is “Impacto,” a Scott Storch production, featuring an appearance by Fergie. The album marks the first innovative fusion of reggaeton, funk, and hip hop. El Cartel: The Big Boss, Yankee’s first studio album in three years, contains Merengue, Salsa, R&B, and hip hop. The rapper worked meticulously to ensure the album represents his best work to date.
With El Cartel: The Big Boss, Yankee hopes to break barriers and let the music takeover, no matter the language.
The rapper marked another important achievement this February when his syndicated radio show, “Daddy Yankee on Fuego” celebrated its first year anniversary. Transmitted throughout the United States over 29 ABC Radio Networks affiliates, the weekly show finds itself the favorite among young Hispanic markets in major cities all across the country. “Daddy Yankee on Fuego” features interviews, lots of music, and special appearances from the rapper himself.
Daddy Yankee’s show stoppers are not just limited to the recording studio or stage. Despite his busy schedule, he always dedicates time to his Corazon Guerrero Foundation, which serves to help high-risk youths. His primary focus is on Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and the United States. In his native Puerto Rico, he launched a successful campaign to equip sixteen schools with computers and many other crucial supplies. The superstar is now working on opening an orphanage in Santo Domingo.
He is also spokesperson for the Red Cross in Hispanic communities all over the U.S., and forms part of the Red Cross’s celebrity cabinet, whose mission is to inspire a new generation of volunteers of all ages and races to join in the efforts of the Red Cross.
Yankee’s achievements have earned him a permanent place in the history of music– with 2004’s Barrio Fino, he single-handedly ushered a once-underground genre into the mainstream, becoming the first reggaet..n artist to achieve platinum status and to stage an international arena tour. Time magazine proclaimed Daddy Yankee as the “Reigning Champ of Reggaet..n” and featured the artist as one of the 100 most influential people in the world in its May 8, 2006 issue, as well as the cover.
And there’s no eclipsing his moment in the sun. Instead, the man born Raymond Ayala personifies kinetic energy, picking up momentum with every passing day and expanding his already massive fan base. His live album, Barrio Fino en Directo was certified platinum a mere fifteen weeks after its release and, to date, has sold over one million copies in the United States alone. En Directo charted ..1 Latin in Billboard magazine for 11 straight weeks and Top 25 Pop, and spun off the original mix of “Rompe,” which peaked Top 25 Pop, Top 20 Rap and ..1 Latin for more than 17 weeks. “Machucando” reached ..2 Latin.
King Daddy’s success is well-deserved, the fruits of over a decade’s worth of work. Born and raised in the Las Lomas and Villa Kennedy barrios of R..o Piedras, Puerto Rico, respectively, he first stirred up local buzz as a prominently featured artist in DJ Playero’s 1993 release, Playero 37.
Although Ayala first aspired to join the ranks of baseball’s Major Leagues, his MVP dreams were crushed by an unfortunate accident – at age 16, he was hit in the leg by a stray bullet. After the incident, he poured his heart into music. It was then that he sought out DJ Playero and forged the fateful partnership that led to some of the genre’s most seminal recordings.
The charismatic and dynamic MC awed listeners with his rapid-fire flow, freestyle ability, and clever and poignant lyrics. Dubbed the “King of Improvisation,” Yankee helped mold the image and sound of the emerging genre with four independently-released albums – El Cartel de Yankee, El Cartel de Yankee 2, ElCangri.com, and Los Home-runes.
In 2002, El Cangri.com emerged as the best-selling album in Puerto Rico, only to be topped in sales by 2003’s Los Home-runes. Later that year, after performing for more than 12,000 fans in Puerto Rico’s Roberto Clemente Coliseum, it seemed like Yankee’s star couldn’t rise any higher.
But then, in 2004, the dynamo ignited a musical revolution. Along with the anthem “Gasolina,” hits like “Lo Que Pas.. Pas..,” “King Daddy,” and “Oye Mi Canto,” collaboration with rapper N.O.R.E and singing sisters Nina Sky, placed Yankee at the helm of the booming reggaeton movement infiltrating the U.S. By that year’s end, music mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs tapped Yankee to become the face of Sean John’s Spring/Summer 2005 collection in a massive ad campaign. An endorsement deal with PepsiCo International, replete with a cinematic-style Spanish-language commercial, followed in July of 2005.
In August of 2005, Yankee kicked off a massive solo tour that amassed arenas in cities like: Los Angeles; Miami; Chicago; New York; Bogot.., Colombia, and Quito, Ecuador. It was the first time a reggaet..n star had performed in arena concerts as the headliner.
That same month, Yankee again made history as the first reggaet..n artist to earn a nomination for an MTV Video Music Award, thanks to the public’s acceptance of the cutting-edge “Gasolina” video.
The masses’ Yankee mania was matched by vociferous critical acclaim. In April 2005, he nabbed the “Reggaet..n Album of the Year” prize at the Latin Billboard Awards. In September, he scored the highest number of wins at the prestigious Premios Juventud, with seven awards total. A Latin Grammy for “Best Urban Music Album” followed in November.
Not one to rest on his laurels, Yankee continued to produce top-notch music, laying the groundwork for even greater dominance in 2006. In December 2005, came the CD/DVD Barrio Fino En Directo, the first album to be released under Interscope Records, the new home of Yankee’s imprint, El Cartel Records. Featuring audio tracks of his greatest hits performed live, along with five new tracks, En Directo debuted at No. 1 on the Latin Albums charts and the lead single, “Rompe” burned up the charts, leading to a remix with label mates 50 Cent, Lloyd Banks and Young Buck.
That February, Yankee was commended at the Premios Lo Nuestro ceremony, winning the “Best Urban Artist” and “Best Song” categories. He was also the first reggaet..n star invited to Chile’s prestigious Vi..a del Mar International Music Festival, where he received such awards as a Silver Torch, a Gold Torch, and the coveted Silver Gull, which is considered the festival’s top honor. Also, Barrio Fino En Directo was named “Reggaet..n Album” of the Year at the 2006 Billboard Latin Music Awards. Daddy Yankee also took home Billboard awards 2006 for “Latin Album Artist of the Year” and “Reggaet..n Song of the Year” (for "Mayor Que Yo" from Baby Ranks, Daddy Yankee, Tonny Tun Tun, Wisin Y Yandel and Hector "El Father") and MTV Video Music Awards Latin America 2006 for “Artist of the Year.”
Perpetually expanding his empire, he set his sights on the fashion world with the unveiling of his DY line, under the Reebok brand. Incorporating footwear, apparel, and accessories, the line hit stores in May, 2006 and saw Yankee join Nelly, Mike Jones, and Lupe Fiasco who together constituted the newest additions to Reebok’s “I Am What I Am” ad push, which, in the past, included such luminaries as 50 Cent, Allen Iverson, Jay-Z, and Pharrell Williams.
The rapper is set to make his motion picture debut in late 2007 with the film Talento de Barrio (Straight from the Barrio), which he also executive produced.
Like any mogul-in-the-making, Yankee continues to fulfill his tireless potential, always remaining true to his roots and proudly waving the Puerto Rican flag in the name of his country and of all Latino people.