Daddy Yankee

Daddy Yankee was photographed on May 12, 2014 at Bulb Studios in Los Angeles.

Ramona Rosales

Puerto Rican reggaeton star Daddy Yankee will be the newest coach on La Voz Kids (The Voice Kids), Telemundo's singing competition for kids that has soared in ratings in the past two years. Yankee's stint in the judge's chair begins in spring 2015. He'll be joining last year's returning coach, Spanish singer and friend Natalia Jiménez, to judge singers between 7 and 15 years old. The winner of La Voz Kids gets $50,000 and a recording contract.

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The reggaetón king (real name Raymond Ayala) and businessman spoke exclusively with Billboard about his new gig.

Have you ever been a coach?
I've been a coach in the studio all my life. As a producer, I have to create music and direct talent. It's just something people have never seen me do publicly. Now they will.

I've had many conversations with new reggaetón acts that specifically speak about the help you've given them. How important is it to you to help those who are coming up?
It's vital. I've always done it, and that will be familiar to my fans who watch La Voz Kids, because they know I'm proactive with new talent.

You're a rapper, but this is a singing competition…
I'm a rapper, but I know music. I know about registers, scales, tone. The fact that I rap doesn’t mean I don't understand what needs to happen vocally. That's what makes me a producer. What we'll be doing in the show is guiding these kids in a coherent and intelligent fashion and maximizing their talent.

What type of coach will you be? Are you going to be tough or nice?
They're not going to be afraid of me, but I'm demanding! I've had to work my entire life with adults who can take criticism and harsh comments. But now that I'll be working with kids and teens, you have to be more flexible. So it will be a challenge for me to figure out how to speak to them. I have to tell them the truth to build them up and not discourage them, and that’s what we’re going to do.

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