Daddy Yankee

El Cartel: The Big Boss (Interscope)

Ramon Ayala reggaeton Spanglish Puerto Rican pride
Three years after introducing the States to reggaeton via the smash "Gasolina," Daddy Yankee (aka Ramon Ayala) has a new joint venture with Interscope, marketing deals out the wazoo, and an understanding that reggaeton's "La Macarena" soundalikes have worn out their welcome.

But this doesn't mean El Cartel is as Americanized as many had predicted. The best moments here are the hip-hop-influenced duets with his labelmates: "Plane to P.R.," featuring will.i.am, and the vocoder-heavy single "Impacto," the remix of which pairs him with Fergie. But the bulk of this disc finds Daddy Yankee still spitting Spanglish declarations of Puerto Rican pride over an even harder-hitting hybrid of synthesized reggaeton. The rhymes, when decipherable, are more the work of a businessman than an artist. Yet the canny way Ayala handles this crossover proves he's not gonna stop until he's conquered the States.

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