Reggaetón's Big Star Hits the Big Time
By JON PARELES
Published: August 25, 2005
Madison Square Garden isn't the biggest place Daddy Yankee has performed. He has already headlined soccer stadiums across Latin America. But his show on Saturday night at the Garden is to be a milestone both for Daddy Yankee and for the music he now dominates: reggaetón, the Puerto Rican hybrid of hip-hop, Jamaican dancehall and salsa, sung and rhymed in Spanish with a touch of Spanglish. Now Daddy Yankee is taking reggaetón on its first American arena tour.
It begins at the Garden and winds up, nine cities later, in San Jose, Calif. Reggaetón has conquered parties, clubs and lately radio; Daddy Yankee's hit "Gasolina" reached MTV and the playlists of many hip-hop stations, and he has a new hit, "Like You," with lyrics in English and Spanish. Both songs are from his 2004 album, "Barrio Fino" (VI/Universal), which has sold three million copies in the United States alone. Daddy Yankee guesses that at least half a million were sold to English-speaking fans who just liked the sound.
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Dang, Daddy Yankee hitting it big-time!
While some folks from the Spanish-speaking perspective might be getting sick of reggaetón, it comes as a fresh shot in the arm for hip-hop in general, which could use the infusion of energy and beats.
Through the years, the Latin audience in the United States has been divided by regional tastes. Mexican audiences favor Mexican styles, Puerto Ricans and Cubans prefer salsa, Dominicans support bachata and merengue. Latin pop has tried to pull together a pan-American audience with sentimental ballads and light rock. But musicians and fans have grown confident that reggaetón will be the street music that unites younger Latinos and reaches into the English-speaking mainstream.
I agree with that statement. Daddy Yankee's hard driving beats, and delivery appeal to the type of Latino kids who also listen to 50 Cent, Eminem, and Ludacris, no matter if they are in Chicago, New York or L.A. I was watching some show on Univision, and they talked about a largely Mexican-American crowd in L.A. going nuts, when the intro to Gasolina was played.
In a way DY's music reminds me of Naughty By Nature, streetwise, but able to come up with some catchy beats.