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Daddy Yankee


Daddy Yankee Biography

As the urban regional style of Latin music heated up in the mid-2000s, spearheaded by the burgeoning reggaeton sound, Daddy Yankee above all led the charge, selling hundreds of thousands of CDs in the wake of his international breakthrough hit, "Gasolina." The reggaeton star enjoyed success not only throughout Latin America but also in the lucrative markets of the United States and Europe, and alongside fellow urban regional figureheads Don Omar, Tego Calderon, Akwid, Vico-C, el General, and Ivy Queen, he played a primary role in legitimizing the music style. For instance, even such highbrow media outlets as The New York Times and the BBC took note (the former crowning Barrio Fino as one of the best hip-hop albums of 2004), not to mention industry publications like Billboard, which tracked the exploding urban regional market with fervor. And too, the stateside rap community certainly recognized Yankee's hitmaking power, as such artists as Lil Jon and Noreaga came calling in search of crossover success.br /br /Born Raymond Ayala on Febuary 3, 1977, in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico, Daddy Yankee was no stranger to success when "Gasolina" catapulted him to international fame in 2004. Initially influenced by both salsa and hip-hop, he'd been working his way to the top of the reggaeton scene for a few years beforehand, winning awards along the way and, given his market, racking up impressive sales numbers. Billed as the King of Improvisation, Daddy Yankee made his way into the Latin music industry through his affiliation with Playero (a fairly successful DJ/producer in the late '90s and early 2000s) and eventually made his recording debut on the One Tough Cop soundtrack in 1998 ("Posicion," a collaboration with Alberto Stylee). Yankee's album debut came in 2000 with El Cartel de Yankee, followed by a second volume a year later, which in turn led to El Changri.com (2002) and Los Homerun-es (2003). These two latter albums were released by the VI Music label, and Los Homerun-es became the biggest-selling album in Puerto Rico, setting the stage well for the eventual crossover success of Barrio Fino (2004). br /br /With the major-label backing of Universal, Barrio Fino became the first reggaeton album to debut at number one on the Billboard chart, where it hovered for weeks and weeks on end (off and on, it retained its number one spot on the stateside Latin album chart throughout 2004 and far into 2005 -- spending roughly a year atop the chart!). The omnipresence of "Gasolina" no doubt helped drive the sales of Barrio Fino, as the song crossed over into numerous markets, arguably becoming the token reggaeton song among people with only a passing knowledge of the music style. Yankee continued on with his steady output, as both the live album Ahora Le Toca al Cangri! Live and a reissue of Los Homerun-es were released in March 2005, which further insured his lasting presence on the Latin music scene. Before the year's end, another live album, Barrio Fino en Directo, hit the shelves. ~ Jason Birchmeier, All Music Guide


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