Daddy Yankee - Talento de Barrio: El Soundtrack Album Review

By Marguerite French
"It's hard to say whether Daddy Yankee's Talento De Barrio is good or bad."

The Who: Best known for the 2005 hit "Gasolina," Daddy Yankee is a Puerto Rico born musician purveying that rare blend of hip-hop, dancehall reggae, electronica and various and sundry forms of Latin music known to the world as Reggaeton. The success of "Gasolina" clearly helped Daddy Yankee transfer his success from Puerto Rico to the mainland, and also ushered in the form of Reggaeton from Latin to North America in a massive way. Since this surprise takeover, Daddy Yankee has been a busy bee, releasing four albums (three studio, one live) and is generally regarded as the frontrunner in popular Reggaeton.

The Buzz: It was bound to happen: the rapper's Cinderella story has become a genre unto itself. When Eminem made his vehicle 8 Mile, it was well-made movie at the height of his fame. Not just forgivable, but commendable. Then came 50 Cent's Get Rich or Die Trying, a "fictional" film version of his troubled youth and rise to fame; it was a little odd, but we let it slide. Now Daddy Yankee is co-producing Talento De Barrio, a film about a tough, but sensitive youth growing up in the rough part of urban Puerto Rico. He's struggling to stay alive, but can't ignore his love of music - or his raw talent. Three guesses where they got the inspiration for the story. If you got that one right, then you already know who's doing the sensational aspect of the soundtrack.

The Verdict: It's hard to say whether Daddy Yankee's Talento De Barrio is good or bad. The producers balanced the requisite snare-and-kick-drum combo with powerful bass lines in most cases, and are playful enough to throw in some really weird electronic touches, like the whining keyboards on "La Fuga." Listening to the songs individually is entertaining - the beats hook in, instrumentation (synthetic, of course) is present and developed and while I can't speak to Daddy Yankee's talent as a lyricist (my sophomore-level Spanish is rusty at best), his flow is tight and strong. A straight listen to Talento De Barrio, however, is wearing - perhaps there's too much experimentation, a producer's one-upman's game, and not enough attention to the artist or the album as a flowing whole. Add to this the knowledge that the whole thing is sort of a marketing tie-in, top it with the desperate single "Bring It On" featuring Akon, and it's almost enough to ruin the fun, party-ready atmosphere of the whole album. Almost, but not quite - the beats are too darn catchy and original.

The Grade: B-