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The Boss is Back: Daddy Yankee Returns to his Roots

5/22/07 - exclusive interview (en español click aqui)



Daddy's back, with the message that he's heading more towards his Hip Hop roots this time around.


picture of Daddy Yankee

Ramón Ayala, better known to the world as Daddy Yankee, is preparing for his June 5th release of his latest album "El Cartel: The Big Boss" and readies himself for a major U.S. tour kicking off this August. While the Puerto Rican Grammy winner became a mainstream music fixture thanks to "Gasolina", he's far from new to the game, a studio fixture since the early 90's.A decade of hard work paid off, and Yankee made his way from the projects of San Juan to platinum record sales, a syndicated radio show and a nod as one of the "100 Most Influential" people by Time Magazine. 


After a long night of recording at Miami's Hit Factory studios, Daddy Yankee took time out to speak with Latin Rapper about his upcoming album and much more in our exclusive interview. You waited three years before recording a new album, why the wait?

No, first I did the first "Barrio Fino" and then I did "Barrio Fino en Directo" in 2005, and with all the tours I had worldwide a year flew by. And having had to tour, then I could say 2004, 2005 passed so I took 2006 to work on the album. That's why, you understand, I took my time, because when I do an album I don't like to rush it, you know, I don't like to make music just to make music.


I like to create, to create new music, revolutionary music, music that the Latino will like, music that African-Americans will like, that the Europeans will like. So every time I come out, its with revolutionized music every race, everybody.

You recorded your first CD in 1995, but to most people in the U.S., Barrio Fino was your first mainstream album. With it's success, are you worried about the sophomore jinx?

Well there are many cases, for example Eminem's second album was better received than his first, also Dr. Dre when he released "The Chronic", you understand, and both are considered classics. You can say that I have no fear of that, I tackled that with "Barrio Fino En Directo". The people were saying 'What's daddy yankee gonna do after dropping such a great album?' and then I came out with a new song called "Rompe", then "Gangsta Zone" featuring Snoop Dogg.


And then the people started to realize that I could make music that was diverse and I started to gain the respect of people all over the world. 'Cause nowadays with the mentality of the people in the industry, it's like, a lot of people are coming into the game and making a hit. The people are quick to say 'Well that's only one', but I've demonstrated that I can do it all despite the contrary.

Tell me something about the new CD, El Cartel: The Big Boss.

Well "El Cartel" is gonna give the people a lot to talk about, I have lots of musical styles mixed together, I have a lot of hip hop on the record. My roots were in hip hop, I remember that with [DJ] Playero, he was the one that supported me into entering the world of reggaeton. That follows me, my roots are hip hop, and a lot of people have not seen my style as an MC, and with this record they'll have a chance to.


Besides that I have dancehall, lots of reggaeton combined with hip hop, I got Scott Storch doing reggaeton with me, also Will I AM, people that are big in the world of hip hop. We're combining the force and our creative minds to create a new sound, and that's what I've created with my album El Cartel. Its very revolutionary, music that's very different from everything that's happening in the Latin industry.

You've said in interviews that you're changing your music, also that reggaeton needs to change, so what's the difference between your new CD and Barrio Fino?

With today the concept in mind, you know the transformation of Daddy Yankee, the kid who started in the streets. Now the transformation that that I've had in these past years from being a young kid from the hood into the leader of a movement. Well now I have to speak from the position I'm in, as a leader, and talk about the different battles I've had in my life to get to the point I'm at today.


In a lot of my songs I'm talking about a transition that I've gone through from when I first started until where I am today, that not everything has been with a hit of good luck. That I've been here, like you said, since 1995 working and planting the seed that keeps growing little by little that I share with the world today.

Who produced the beats on El Cartel?

I have WiLL.I.AM of the Black Eyed Peas, Scott Storch, I have the Diaz Bros, I have reggaeton producer Neli, Tainy Tunes. Producers from my company Eli "The Musicianist" and Menace. They're with me, also D-Cell from Puerto Rico. I have a combination of different producers so I can have new and revolutionary music, something fresh for everybody's ears.

You've already recorded with Fergi and Akon, right? Who are the other guest features?

Well from Puerto Rico I have Hector "El Father" with me, I have Nicole from The Pussycat Dolls, and I'm working on two special guests. But I haven't finished the album, so I don't want to take the mask off Spider Man just yet, so that the people have to anticipate what I'm bringing. But I have a lot of really good guests on the album.

What's the first single?

The first single is called "Impacto", that will be hitting radio this Thursday. There's a bad edited version out on the internet so don't be fooled by it, that was taken by a pirate that stole a version that was badly edited (laughs). But this Thursday it'll be out there.

Have you already recorded the video?

The video we're going to do April 17th in Los Angeles. The directors are Celine Projects.

What are you doing outside of music, with clothes, movies, Reebok shoes, managing rappers in Puerto Rico?

We're doing everything, we're working with the sneaker line that's doing really good, right now the people can go over to and they can customize their Daddy Yankee sneakers. It's the first time in history that Reebok has used a celebrity to promote their custom sneakers, and I feel very blessed that they picked a real Latino.


From all the diverse talent and artists that Reebok has, they choose Daddy Yankee to be the person to make history this time around with Reebok. So go over to and customize your Daddy Yankee sneakers however you want, put the colors to match whatever style you want and they'll arrive at your house.

For el Cartel: The Big Boss, what's more important: a Grammy or a Platinum album?

Well both are good, but the most important thing that a Grammy and the sales can give you is the appreciation of the people. That's the real prize of making music, that the people enjoy what you do and it touches their heart, that's the real prize of making music.

On the internet, people talk about your tira'era, or beef, with Don Omar. But nobody really says anything about how it started, can you explain the origin of the beef?

You'll hear about the origin of the beef with Don Omar on my album El Cartel: The Big Boss, when you hear the album then you'll know.

I've read on the web that you were shot in the leg when you were 17. Tell us if you're worried about beef, that we'll see a return of violence that affected 50 Cent, 2pac, Biggie.

In reality I don't worry about that 'cause I'm really sure that all of those rappers that diss me aint gangsters (laughs), you understand? I don't worry about none of them, cause I know none of them are gangsters, and none of them are gonna do anything to me cause they know I'm a boss.

In the U.S., rappers like 50 Cent, Game and Jim Jones believe that beef can help CD sales. You're still beefing with Don Omar, do you believe the same thing?

It helps him, but for me... I can sell my records without having to diss him, but I do know it helps them, 'cause they have to go after the guy who's on top.

In Puerto Rico you do a lot of charity work, tell me about your Warrior Heart Foundation (Fundación Corazón Guerrero).

Well the Guerrero Heart Foundation, starting the foundation this year we're helping the youth that nobody wants to help, and now we're working with the prisons in Puerto Rico and the youths who are getting out soon. We're going to enter them into the program, teach them about computers and give them the tenacity so that they're more prepared to face the society on their own, you understand? So they don't return to the things that they were doing before they got out, here we're giving them an opportunity to be able to defend themselves against society.

You have anything else to say to the Daddy Yankee fans out there?

Well you already know, June 5th the album drops, the revolution, the Big Boss! You're gonna hear good music, good reggaeton, hip hop on another level like you've never heard before from a Latino born and raised in a Latin country. You're gonna hear the best of the best on behalf of Daddy Yankee! Thanks for your support and God bless the world!

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