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Superlatives are necessary when speaking of Puerto Rican reggaetón star Daddy Yankee. After all, his achievements have earned him a permanent place in musical history with 2004’s Barrio Fino, he single-handedly ushered a once underground genre into the mainstream, becoming the first reggaetón artist to achieve platinum status and to stage an international arena tour.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 just in United States. En Directo’s bounce-tinged lead single “Rompe” and its follow-up, “Machucando,” both debuted in the top five of Billboard’s Hot Latin Songs chart.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 Río Piedras, P.R., 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 to mold the image and sound of the young genre with four independently-released albums – El Cartel de Yankee, El Cartel de Yankee 2, El Cangri.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 before 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 Pasó Pasó,” “King Daddy,” and “Oye Mi Canto,” a collaboration with rapper NORE and singing sisters Nina Sky, placed Yankee at the helm of the booming reggaetón movement infiltrating the U.S. By the 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; Bogotá, Colombia, and Quito, Ecuador. It was the first time a reggaetón star had performed in arena concerts as the lone artist on the bill. That same month, Yankee again made history as the first reggaetón 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 of 2005, he nabbed the “Reggaetón 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 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” has been burning up the charts, even meriting a remix with labelmates 50 Cent, Lloyd Banks and Young Buck.In February, Yankee was commended at the Premios Lo Nuestro ceremony, winning in the “Best Urban Artist” and “Best Song” categories. He was also the first reggaetón star invited to Chile’s prestigious Viña 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.Aside from preparing his next studio album, Yankee is hard at work on the launch of his new radio show and his fashion collection under the Reebok brand. The DY line, which incorporates footwear, apparel, and accessories, is set to hit stores in May. Yankee joins Nelly, Mike Jones, and Lupe Fiasco who together constitute the newest additions to Reebok’s “I Am What I Am” ad push, which, in the past, has included such luminaries as 50 Cent, Allen Iverson, Jay-Z, and Pharrell Williams.Yankee is also conquering airwaves from behind the microphone thanks to his own weekly two-hour syndicated show with ABC Radio, “Daddy Yankee on Fuego,” which airs on Saturday nights on over twenty stations across the U.S.Further expanding his empire, the multi-talented artist will make his debut as an actor and executive producer this summer with the film “Straight Outta the Barrio.”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.
Daddy Yankee is the sexiest man alive!
by Jesenia July 20, 2006
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