DAy 2: Billboard Latin Music Conf & Awards.

Daddy Yankee demonstrated his star presence during an exclusive Q&A with Billboard Latin Bureau Chief Leila Cobo at the Billboard Latin Music Conference & Awards in Miami. Amid a wall-lining array of cameras from national press outlets, attendees took the opportunity to inundate the reggaeton innovator—who sold more Latin albums in 2005 than any other artist—with a barrage of digital camera and cell phone flashes before his hour-long conversation with Cobo.

Among the highlights:

“Twelve years ago, I knocked on many record label doors and they didn’t understand me. I gave them my demo to see if it could be produced and they told me to take that crap out of here, it’s never going to happen. I said, excuse me, you’re talking about things that are going on the street. People behind a desk don’t have a notion what’s going on in the real world or what could happen as a result.”

“I was forced to become an entrepreneur because no one wanted to hear my music. Doubts did spring up and I had frustrations and depression, but I believed in what was happening even if radio and TV weren’t seeing it. There is a black world out there and we have to talk about what’s going on. Pop songs talk about love, which is a great subject, but there is also killing and drugs abounding and nobody was talking about those “

“The genre has undergone a gigantic revolution. I compare it to 12 years ago and now there are musicians playing live instruments. I have to continue to provide new flavors.”

“People ask me how I can still write from the perspective of (Puerto Rico’s) Barrio. I spent 25 years there. It never goes away.”

“For my new album, I have people working from (Puerto Rico) and Jamaica and I’ll sing some songs in English, as I’ve done before. I also do hip hop so I’m working with Pharrell Williams and Black Eyed Peas. There are some very strong songs that I think will carry reggaeton and hip hop forward.”

“I sleep 4-1/2 to 5 hours a day, go to the gym, then go take care of my business, and then I go to the studio, knowing that my company is taking care of business while I work on the music. There have been plenty of times when I split up a meeting because creativity has arrived and I need to work on that side. The music is what drives me, so it has to come first.”

“I’ve invested in a (theater) musical about the life of Celia Cruz, which we’re planning with her family. It’s a very realistic project. She’s a lady I admire very much. I know with the vision that we have, if it gets its opportunity, it will be very much appreciated by everybody.”

“The immigration issues facing us are very serious. We have to represent the power we have in society. I feel very proud to have my role—now we need more leaders to merge to do what I’m doing. I want to be an inspiration like that. Latins are like a hurricane and we will be everywhere.”

“I sat down and created music and worked hard and this became something more. I came from the Barrio in Puerto Rico and now I open magazines and I am there. It’s great to represent Latin people and do this with all my heart. When you come from a minority, sometimes you are underestimated. But I realize I represent the voice of many people. I am also a spiritual person. I believe that God brought me here and put me here I am. I am focused, determined and a hard worker. If you have features like this, you won’t stop and you will get what you want.”


Full Coverage:
Is Reggaeton Losing Its Purity?
Day Two: Breaking Age-Old Perceptions
Execs Debate Pricing, iTunes' Impact
Billboard Latin Music Conf & Awards Kick Off In Miami