Daddy Yankee (born Ramón Luis Ayala Rodríguez, February 3, 1977) is a Latin Grammy Award-winning Puerto Rican Reggaeton singer, songwriter and music producer. He started singing and rapping at 13, right when the rap scene began taking root in Puerto Rico. At only 21 he launched his own label called El Cartel Records. In 2004, he broke into the mainstream with his breakthrough album Barrio Fino along with its hit track "Gasolina."
Time Magazine has ranked Daddy Yankee as one of the top 100 influencers in the world. In 2017, he and his good friend Luis Fonsi collaborated on the single “Despacito,” not knowing it'd become a chart topper in close to 50 countries and become the most-watched YouTube video ever. Yankee’s unique rap style has made him the most-streamed musician on Spotify.
Born in Santurce, Puerto Rico, and raised in the Villa Kennedy Housing Projects of Río Piedras, the largest district of San Juan, Yankee was also interested in baseball in his youth, and aspired to become a Major League player. As a teenager, Ayala tried out for the Seattle Mariners Major League baseball team. Before he could be officially signed by the team, Ayala was hit by a stray round from an AK-47 rifle while taking a break from a studio recording session with reggaeton mixtape icon DJ Playero. The bullet was never removed from Ayala's hip, and he credits the shooting incident with allowing him to focus entirely on a music career.
He then became involved in the underground rap movement that was in its early stages in Puerto Rico, later to be called Reggaeton. Daddy Yankee first appeared on the 1993 DJ Playero mixtape “Playero 37.” His first official studio project as a solo artist was, “No Mercy,” which was released in 1995 through White Lion Records in Puerto Rico.
In 2002, “El Cangri.com,” became Daddy Yankee’s first album with international success, receiving coverage in the markets of New York City and Miami. Daddy Yankee’s next album, “Barrio Fino,” was produced by Luny Tunes and released in 2004 by his own imprint label El Cartel Records and VI Music. Having enjoyed Salsa music since he was young, Daddy Yankee included the style of music on the album. The most prominent of these cross-genre singles was, “Melao,” in which he performed with Andy Montañez. “Barrio Fino” went to #1 on the Billboard Latin Albums chart, #16 on the Rap Albums chart and #26 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart.
In 2007, El Cartel Records released, “El Cartel: The Big Boss,” which topped both the Billboard Rap Albums and Latin Albums charts, as well as reaching the Top 10 of the Billboard 200. Album sales made him at the time the highest selling reggaetón artist in an abbreviated sales cycle. In 2008, Daddy Yankee's soundtrack album, “Talento de Barrio,” debuted at #13 on the Billboard 200.
Daddy Yankee released his fifth studio album, “Daddy Yankee Mundial,” in 2010. The album, issued by El Cartel Records, became his third straight #1 record on the Billboard Latin Albums chart, while also reaching #3 on the Rap Albums chart and #29 on the Billboard 200. Daddy Yankee's sixth studio album, “Prestige,” was issued via El Cartel Records and Sony Music.
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