Daddy Yankee kicked off 2012 with “Lovumba,” an infectious dance track that artfully blends dance and urban beats—underscored by Yankee’s trademark, memorable chorus and hard-hitting raps.
It almost immediately rose to No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Latin Songs chart—Yankee’s astounding NINTH No. 1 on the list--scored tens of millions of views on VEVO and became a global sensation, reaching No. 1 in dozens of countries.
Seven years after “Barrio Fino” became the top- selling Latin urban album of all time and the track “Gasolina” single-handedly launched reggaetón to the World, Daddy Yankee continues to be the most influential and recognizable name in Latin urban and dance music, with over 11 million albums sold, more than 15 million fans combined throughout his social networks (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Vevo, & DaddyYankee.com) and several awards, including Urban Latin Artist of the Decade by Billboard Magazine.
Named one of the most influential Hispanics in the World by both CNN and Time Magazine, Yankee continues his trailblazing path with the upcoming release of his new album in Summer 2012 on his own label, El Cartel Records, the launch of his U.S., Latin American and European tour—beginning with 12 European dates in May--and his rising business empire with the upcoming launch of his own tequila, El Cartel.
At the same time, and in keeping with a long line of prestigious brand associations, Yankee has launched a new line of headphones with Section 8, the top manufacturer of music headsets and ear bugs. The exclusive line premiered at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show. Yankee also launched his own “Legends of the Game” line of luxury watches with Azad Watches Inc., becoming the first and only Latin artist to have his own line of Azad watches.
“Prestige is an album that reflects the real urban movement. I'm returning to the formula that made this genre great, using raw reggaeton because it's the music that continues to create the most buzz with the fans. Combining as well a tropical urban fusion of which the public always desires. I decided to make the album completely in Spanish by popular demand. The fans asked for the essence and the essence is what they'll receive from my album PRESTIGE”, said Latin star.
But Yankee’s influence goes beyond creative trends. At a time when the music industry model is reinventing itself, and when artists are more than ever taking charge of their careers, Daddy Yankee is at the forefront, as a businessman and owner of his repertoire, his record label and all his rights. Yankee’s maverick approach has revolutionized the way music is marketed, promoted and distributed, and his business model has served as the blueprint for countless acts that now helm their artistic and business ventures.
Today, Yankee presides over an empire that includes El Cartel Records a production house; his award- winning Los Cangris Music Publishing; his men’s and women’s fragrance (DY for men and Dyamante for women); and a budding film company that produced “Talento de Barrio,” the highest-grossing film in Puerto Rico’s history, starring Yankee himself. The film’s soundtrack, sold over 1 million copies worldwide and reached No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Latin Album charts, with the single “Pose” also hitting No. 1 on the Hot Latin Songs chart.
Acutely aware of his role and responsibility within the Latin community, Yankee founded Daddy’s House, which supports orphaned children in the Dominican Republic, and is a cabinet member of the American Red Cross.
Yankee’s philanthropic efforts made him the recipient of Billboard’s Spirit of Hope Award, given yearly to an artist for outstanding humanitarian work.
Daddy Yankee’s extensive accomplishments also includes: eleven Premios Juventud Awards, nine Billboard Latin Music Awards, four Premios Lo Nuestro Awards, and two Latin Grammys.
Now with the release of “Prestige” Daddy Yankee proves again he’s not only a singer, Daddy Yankee is a movement.
Early Years: Born Raymond Ayala and raised in a Puerto Rican housing project, Yankee began his musical career from the ground up, selling mixed tapes from his car and improvising to the beats laid out by popular DJs.
Ayala was the second of four children—three boys and a girl--born into a musical family with limited means. His father was a percussionist, and his mother’s relatives were singers and musicians. His interest was in music as well, and as child, he made a habit of improvising at family gatherings. But influenced by what happened in the neighborhood around him, Yankee soon turned to hip hop in Spanish, developing songs with a strong sense of social responsibility.
Then, in the early 1990s, Ayala came face to face with reggaetón, as it was initially created in Puerto Rico. “We would do hip hop and the Puerto Rican DJs would play a vynil with hip hop on one side, and a vynil with reggae and dancehall on the other,” he recalls. “They played them together and do a remix. And we would rap over the beats.”
Yankee’s first foray into recorded reggaetón was as a guest artist in the albums of DJ Playero, broadly considered one of the pioneers in the genre. The recordings go as far back as “Playero 37,” released in 1992, with Daddy Yankee among the featured guests. Yankee slowly but surely built his reputation, working the streets and getting his name out there. The “Daddy Yankee” moniker signaled his aspirations early on.
“Yankee in Puerto Rico is the slang we use for someone tall, who is big in what he does,” Yankee told Billboard in 2005. “So the name means Big Daddy.”
A full decade after his first forays with DJ Playero, Yankee released his first solo album, “El Cangri.Com.” Despite lack of major distribution, and, in fact, lack of distribution outside the United States, Yankee’s name was big enough that the album spent three weeks on Billboard’s Top Latin Albums chart. Yankee’s follow up, “Los Homerunes Vol. 1,” was released in 2003 and peaked at No. 8, remaining four weeks on the chart. That album was accompanied by a catchy single, “Segurosky,” that solidified Yankee’s knack for coming up with solid, easy to remember hooks.
Yankee’s breakout album was 2005’s “Barrio Fino,” socially conscious album that told gritty tales of Yankee’s barrio, debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard Top Latin Albums chart. The album also included “Gasolina,” the ultimate party song; a track so catchy, that, with limited promotion, it still climbed the charts and propelled Yankee’s sales.
By the end of 2005, “Barrio Fino” was the top selling Latin album of the year and Yankee signed a partnership deal with Interscope Records, releasing i “Barrio Fino En Directo,” and becoming the first Latin act to sign a JV with a major mainstream label.
Yankee followed his success with 2007’s “El Cartel: The Big Boss,” which featured duets with Fergie, Snoop Dogg and Will.i.am and was the top-selling album of the year in the United States, garnering Yankee a Billboard Latin Music Award for Top Latin Album.
He followed with “Talento de Barrio”, the soundtrack to the film of the same name, which sold over 1 million copies worldwide. In 2010, his world party album “Daddy Yankee Mundial” won Billboard Latin Music Awards for Record of the year (for the track “Mundial”) and made Yankee Artist of the year for his success on both sales and radio charts.