Reggaeton star Daddy Yankee busy on multiple fronts

MIAMI (Billboard) - In 2005, Daddy Yankee hit big on the charts with an upbeat reggaeton anthem about the joys of gasoline.


Half a decade later, and with four No. 1s on Billboard's Top Latin Albums chart, including the top-selling Latin album of the decade ("Barrio Fino"), Yankee -- whose real name is Raymond Ayala -- has established himself as one of the stalwarts of the reggaeton genre as well as a maverick artist who has redefined the role of Latin artists as entrepreneurs directing their own careers.

As he prepares for the April 27 release of his new studio album, "Mundial," bonus track "Grito Mundial" has been chosen for World Cup TV campaigns on Telefutura and ESPN in the United States and on Azteca in Mexico. In addition, his new women's fragrance is slated to launch at the end of May, along with a media campaign that includes a billboard in New York's Times Square. In the fall he will star in a Hollywood film, and his TV show, "Tuneame la Nave," began its second season in March on Azteca. Plus, he's extended his sponsorship deal with Coors Light, which launched last fall.

Amid all this, he continues to churn out hits -- his new single, "Descontrol," has already hit No. 1 on the Latin Rhythm Airplay chart, five weeks before the album's release.

Like his previous sets, "Mundial" is long on songs (14 tracks, plus three iTunes bonus cuts) and covers a variety of genres. While it features straight-ahead reggaeton alongside gritty urban tracks on which Yankee raps about life in the proverbial hood, it's also full of danceable, commercial tracks that could play on both urban and pop stations.

Sony inked a deal with Yankee to distribute his album in the United States and Puerto Rico and license it elsewhere, including Europe and Latin America. Yankee, who records for his own label, El Cartel Records, was previously licensed by Universal and has always retained his masters.


Yankee's hitmaking abilities transcend the success of "Gasolina." He's had six Latin chart-toppers cross over to the Billboard Hot 100 and Rhythmic Top 40 charts, among others, as well as collaborations with mainstream artists like Fergie and Akon.

But "Mundial" marks a return to his Latin base. While many songs are peppered with English, there aren't any collaborations or English-only tracks.

"The truth is, we make much more from our Latin American tours than the U.S.," Yankee says. "Many people think the world is only the United States, but we (come) from Central America, South America and the Caribbean. The U.S. is more a market of perception," he adds, noting that last year he played nearly 100 arena shows, most of them outside the States.

But stateside, Yankee is more of a household name than most Latin artists -- a key factor in Sony's decision to sign a deal. That recognition, coupled with a strong work ethic, was the impetus behind the launch of his new women's cologne, DYamante, which will be sold in the States and Puerto Rico and throughout Latin America and the Middle East.

"Different artists have different levels of involvement," says Scott Berg, brand manager at Falic Fashion Group, which owns Duty Free Americas stores and puts out Yankee's fragrances. (His men's cologne, DY, launched in 2008.) "He is the best at that. He tells us what he likes in the fragrance, his ideas on the package, and he's extremely supportive."

Marketing for DYamante -- whose 100-ml bottle will retail for approximately $55 -- will be tied to marketing for "Mundial," with samples given out at album events.

It's yet another example of Yankee's savvy for everything cross-promotional, including the upcoming film that will, of course, feature his music.

"You know me," he says with a smile. "This is a business."

Source: Reuters