Daddy Yankee is king of reggaeton, a musical style that blends reggae, hip hop, and rap into a distinctly Latin stew. This new live CD/DVD retrospective gives fans, both old and new, a little (and I mean very little) insight into this emerging performer’s world.
Although he’s popular, especially due to the striking chart success of the “Gasolina” single, Daddy Yankee is not a particularly deep individual. En Directo, the documentary portion of this set, is broken down into a broad videotaped Q&A session. Within this forum, Daddy Yankee is asked about such topics as God, family, trust, and so on. On the plus side, he at least answers these queries honestly—except for one request for his thoughts about George W. Bush. To this one, he curtly answers, “Next question, please.” The trouble with his answers is that these various statements don’t mark him as a particularly unique individual. Along the way, the viewer learns that Daddy Yankee loves God and family. But then again, doesn’t almost everybody? He’s even quizzed about a few of his musical rivals (such as Vico-C), yet he mainly takes the highroad with these opinions. Oh, and we also find out that this baseball lover dearly respects the late Roberto Clemente. Simply put, En Directo is mostly comprised of filler.
Daddy Yankee comes alive when he’s singing, however, rather than talking. This DVD includes four concert performances. For instance, one can watch the man sing “King Daddy”, “Dale Caliente”, “El Caldo” and “Gasolina”. Only “Gasolina” is presented in color, while the other three are done with basic black and white. Fronting a line of scantily clad dancers and surrounded by fiery flames, Daddy Yankee fuels the fire while presenting his breakthrough hit. These live moments make you wish there were more such concert clips included, instead of the long and dull documentary section.
In addition to the live shots, there’s also Daddy Yankee’s new video, “Corazones”, as well as a behind-the-scenes show for the conceptual clip. Apparently, Daddy Yankee aspires to be more than just a musical hero, because this set also includes the trailer for the upcoming “Talento De Barrio” film, which presumably stars Daddy Yankee. Next to the documentary, the least successful portion of this double-disc set is called “Long Distance”, which merely shows clips of Daddy Yankee performing in dark and anonymous looking concert settings. The country name appears at the bottom of the screen for each of these segments, but really, these could have been shot anywhere for all we know. There are also three photo galleries (titled “Barrio Fino Album”, “Barrio Fino Promo”, and “2005 Tour Shoot”). But these snapshot collections are both short, and relatively unrevealing.
Completing the package, this set also includes a 16-track live CD. In addition to containing familiar Daddy Yankee songs, it also includes “Gangsta Zone”, which is a collaboration with Snoop Dogg, and “Machete Reloaded”, a duet with another high profile hip-hop collaborator, Paul Wall.
Daddy Yankee speaks repeatedly on-screen about how seriously he takes his role as a kind of Puerto Rican ambassador. Even so, we don’t learn a whole lot about this artist’s homeland and culture, except, of course, its rampant poverty. Worst of all, this work assumes that listeners/viewers already know Daddy Yankee’s life story. I didn’t know it before exploring this set, and I still don’t know the pivotal events of his supposedly eventful life. Daddy Yankee mentions at one point that he’d probably be in prison if it weren’t for music. But he never tells us any of the circumstances that could have led to such a tragic life turn. For those who only know him for the buzz he’s causing with the whole reggaeton trend, it would be helpful to learn his complete story. If I knew what factors informed his music, I might like it even more.
Daddy Yankee is most comfortable when talking about music. Although he’s known primarily for his hip-hop style, he tells viewers that Latin icons, like Willie Cohen and Ruben Blades, were two of his primary influences. He also talks about how Latin music was constantly played in his household when he was growing up. Maybe I’m a just a reggaeton novice here, but I don’t hear a whole lot of Latin music in his sound. And for that matter, I also don’t hear nearly enough reggae. Instead, this style mainly comes off like machine gun-fast rap most of the time.
Either there isn’t all that much to the whole Daddy Yankee phenomenon, or this set just doesn’t give us the complete picture. It’s a fairly decent collection of new rap music, but little else, from a cold and distant Daddy.
// Notes from the Road
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