Daddy Yankee Biography

Daddy Yankee was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico and was influenced by several musicians in his family, including his father and some of his mother's relatives. During his childhood he practiced singing and focused on lyrical improvisation. Although Ayala first aspired to join the ranks of baseball’s Major Leagues and was on his way to MLB, he abandoned this goal after being involved in an accident—at age seventeen, he was caught in the crossfire of a barrio gun battle and received two bullet wounds. One bullet grazed his arm and the other, from an AK-47, hit him in the leg and left him with a permanent limp. Following this incident he became interested in the underground rap movement, which at the time was in an early organizational stage. He also took more interest in the events that took place in the neighborhood in which he was raised, a public housing project named Villa Kennedy. Early in his career he attempted to imitate the style of Vico C. He went on to emulate other artists in the genre, including DJ Playero, DJ Nelson, and DJ Goldy, taking elements from their styles in order to develop an original style. In doing so, he eventually abandoned the traditional model of rap and became one of the first artists to perform Reggaeton. Ayala first recorded with DJ Playero as a featured artist in a production titled Playero 37, going under the name Winchester Yankee 30 30 which was released in 1992.

His first album, titled No Mercy, was produced in 1995 when Ayala was eighteen years old. The production did not sell well, and he continued his work within the genre for the rest of the decade, eventually forming a duo with Nicky Jam. One of the duo's songs, "Posición", was included in the soundtrack of One Tough Cop, a movie directed by Bruno Barreto, that was released in 1998. Beginning in 2000, Ayala began concentrating more on his solo career because of a feud that occured between him over Nicky Jam because of Nicky Jam becoming addicted to Marajuana, releasing albums produced outside studios. The first production he released was titled El Cartel, featuring elements of the mixtape style. In 2001 El Cartel II was released, a direct sequel to the previous production, and influenced by similar genres.

In 2002 El Cangri.com was released, and became the first album in Ayala's career to sell well outside Puerto Rico, mostly in the United States. The album was produced by VI Music, an independent recording studio in Puerto Rico, and was not supported by a major label. The most successful single from the album was "Latigazo", which received significant play on radio stations in New York and Miami. The album reached #43 on Billboard's Top Latin Albums chart. Following the release of this disc, Ayala performed at the Roberto Clemente Coliseum before 12,000 fans. The following year VI Music produced Los Homerun-es. The album became the leader in sales in Puerto Rico during a year in which several other reggaeton artists released significant productions, including Luny Tune's Mas Flow, Don Omar's The Last Don, and Tego Calderón's El Abayarde. The album's success helped Ayala receive the publicity required for a crossover to the United States market, and marked the last album he released with VI music before signing a contract with Universal.

Ayala's next album, Barrio Fino, was produced by Luny Tunes and released in July 2004 by El Cartel Records and Interscope under Universal. It was the most highly anticipated album in the reggaeton community. Barrio Fino was the first reggaeton album to debut as number one on the Billboard chart and maintained its high position for almost a year. Ayala had enjoyed salsa music since he was young, and this led him to include music of genres besides reggaeton in the album. The most prominent of these cross-genre singles was "Melao", in which he performed with Andy Montañez. The album was described as his most complete, and with it he intended to introduce combinations of reggaeton and other genres to the English-speaking market. Barrio Fino was followed up by an international tour with performances in numerous countries including the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, Honduras, Spain, Colombia, Argentina, Venezuela, and the United States. The album has sold over 500,000 copies in the United States alone and has sold well throughout Latin America and worldwide.

In 2005 Ayala won several international awards, making him one of the most recognized reggaeton artists within the music industry. The first award of the year was a Premio Lo Nuestro within the "Latin music" category, which he received for Barrio Fino. In this event he performed "Gasolina" in a performance that was described as "innovative". Barrio Fino also won the "Reggaeton Album of the Year" award in the Latin Billboard that took place on April 28, 2005, where he performed a mix of three of his songs in a duo with P. Diddy. The album was promoted throughout Latin America, the United States, and Europe, reaching certified gold in Japan. Due to the album's success, Ayala received promotional contracts with radio stations and soda companies, including Pepsi. His single "Gasolina" received the majority of votes cast for the second edition of Premios Juventud, in which it received eight nominations and won seven awards. Ayala also made a live presentation during the award ceremony. "Gasolina" received nominations in the Latin Grammy and MTV Video Music Awards.

The successful single, "Gasolina", was covered by artists from different music genres. This led to a controversy when Los Lagos, a Mexican banda group, did a cover with the original beat but changed the song's lyrics. The group's label had solicited the copyright permission to perform the single and translate it to a different music style, but did not receive consent to change the lyrics; legal action followed. Speaking for the artist, Ayala's lawyer stated that having his songs covered was an "honor, but it must be done the right way."

On April 30, 2006, Ayala was named one of the 100 most influential people by Time magazine, which cited the 2 million copies of Barrio Fino sold, Ayala's $20 million contract with Interscope, and his Pepsi endorsement. During this period, Ayala and William Omar Landrón (more commonly known by his artistic name Don Omar) were involved in a rivalry within the genre, dubbed "tiraera". The rivalry received significant press coverage despite being denied early on by both artists. It originated with a lyrical conflict between the artists begun by Ayala's comments in a remix single, where he criticized Landron's common usage of the nickname "King of Kings". Don Omar responded to this in a song titled "Ahora Son Mejor", part of Hector El Father's album his album Los Rompe Discotecas.

El Cartel: The Big Boss was released by Interscope on June 5, 2007. Ayala stated that the album marked a return to his hip-hop roots as opposed to being considered a strictly reggaeton album. The album was produced in 2006, and included the participation of will.i.am, Scott Storch, Tainy Tunes, Neli, and personnel from Ayala's label. Singles were produced with Hector El Father, Fergie, Nicole Scherzinger and Akon. The first single from the album was titled "Impacto", and was released prior to the completion of the album. The album was promoted by a tour throughout the United States, which continued throughout Latin America. He performed in Mexico, first in Monterrey, where 10,000 attended the concert, and later at San Luis Potosí coliseum, where the concert sold out, leaving hundreds of fans outside the building. Ayala performed in Chile as well, and established a record for attendance in Ecuador. He also performed in Bolivia, setting another record when 50,000 fans attended his Santa Cruz de la Sierra concert. This show was later described as "the best show with the biggest attendance in history" and as "something never seen in our country" by the local media. The show lasted for two hours, and the audience sang along with the artist.

According to Billboard magazine, El Cartel: The Big Boss was the top-selling album among all Latin music categories in 2007. At the moment of release, the album had sold 500,000 copies in the United States and 50,000 in Mexico. In an interview, Ayala said that he was happy that his album had sold more than those of Juan Luis Guerra and Juanes, and that this was an "official proof that reggaeton's principal exponent defeated the rest of the genres". Ayala made a guest appearance in an album titled "Caribbean Connection" released on June 24, 2008. The production included participation by other Latin American artists such as Wisin & Yandel, Don Omar and Héctor Delgado, along with Jamaican musicians such as Inner Circle, Bounty Killer, Elephant Man and Wayne Wonder. In July 2008, Ayala announced that as part of his work, he would produce a cover version of Thalía's song, Ten Paciencia. Prior to the album's release, Ayala scheduled several activities, including an in-store contract signing. On February 27, 2009, he performed at the Viña del Mar International Song Festival in Chile. In this event, the artists receive awards based on the public's reaction. After performing "Rompe", "Llamado de emergencia", "Tú me dejaste caer", "Gasolina", "Limpia parabrisas" and "Lo que pasó, pasó" over the course of two hours, Ayala received the "Silver Torch", "Gold Torch" and "Silver Seagull" recognitions. On April 24, 2009, he received the Spirit of Hope Award as part of the Latin Billboard Music Awards ceremony. The recognition is given to the artists that participate in community or social efforts throughout the year.

Daddy Yankee has established himself in a variety of fields. In 2005, he became the first Latin artist to sign a deal with Reebok, to distribute his own line of accessories, including the licensed clothing line "DY", which was released in 2006. He also teamed up with the company to have his own shoes and sporting goods made, which were first distributed on May 23, 2006. Reebok continued the partnership with the introduction of the Travel Trainer collection in July 2007. In August 2007, Pepsi began an advertising campaign titled "Puertas", in which Ayala is depicted returning to his youth by opening a series of doors.

In 2008, Ayala participated in a campaign to promote voting in the 2008 general elections in Puerto Rico. This initiative included a concert titled "Vota o quédate callao". On August 25, 2008, Ayala endorsed John McCain's candidacy for President of the United States, stating that McCain "has been a fighter for the Hispanic community". As part of this campaign, Ayala moderated a debate titled “Vota o quédate callao: los candidatos responden a los jóvenes”, which was aired on October 9, 2008.

Ayala has worked in the film industry as both an actor and producer. His acting debut was the lead role of Vampiros, a film directed by Eduardo Ortiz and filmed in Puerto Rico. The film premiered at the Festival of Latin American Cinema in New York, where it received a positive reaction. This led Image Entertainment to produce a DVD, internationally released in March 2005. Ayala played the main role "Edgar" in Talento de Barrio, which was filmed in Puerto Rico and directed by José Iván Santiago. Ayala produced the film, which is based on his experience of growing up in a poor city neighborhood. While the film is not directly a biography, Ayala has stated that it mirrors his early life. Talento de Barrio's debut was scheduled for July 23, 2008, in New York's Latino Film Festival. After the premier, Ayala expressed satisfaction, saying that he had been invited to audition for other producers. On release, Talento de Barrio broke the record held by Maldeamores for the most tickets to a Puerto Rican movie sold in a single day in Caribbean Cinemas.

Ayala has been involved in the administration of three organizations, the first being El Cartel Records which he co-owns with Andres Hernandez. He also created the Fundación Corazón Guerrero, a charitable organization in Puerto Rico which works with young incarcerated people. Ayala has also contributed to improving Puerto Rico's public education system. He participated in Sapientis Week, an initiative sponsored by the non-profit Sapientis which brings distinguished public figures into classrooms in order to raise the public's awareness of the education crisis in Puerto Rico.

On February 6, 2008, Ayala announced in a National Superior Basketball press conference that he had bought part of the Caguas Creoles' ownership. In late 2008 Ayala released his first fragrance line, DY.
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