Don Omar’s The Last Don II debuts this week at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Latin Albums chart, becoming the fifth chart-topping album for the Puerto Rican reggaetón star. Ironically, those No. 1s don’t include the album that started it all: The Last Don, Omar’s groundbreaking 2003 solo debut and the inspiration behind the hard-core reggaetón of The Last Don II.
Don Omar — real name: William Landrón — spoke exclusively with Billboard about recording (but not releasing) music with Jennifer Lopez, getting Wisin & Yandel together again and touring with Daddy Yankee.
After many more pop-leaning hits like “Danza Kuduro,” you’ve gone back to very old-school reggaetón on this album. Why?
I think it’s a new movement. Not just for me as a person, but for the genre. There’s a big difference between dying and getting killed. Yes, there is, there is. I’ve heard a lot of people saying the genre was over, that it was no good anymore. I was thinking maybe they’re right. But I just released this album, and today, I’m amazed, I’m super amazed with what is happening with this release. I didn’t expect it.
Weren’t you tempted to put at least one more dance or pop song in the album as opposed to just reggaetón?
I told my fans: “The next album is going to be 100 percent reggaeton.” Three months into the recording, I thought, “Now what have I done?” I recorded 24 songs for this album, we only used 12. I thought it was too much reggaeton. But the urban fan was begging for this. They were dying for this. That’s why I call it a new opportunity, not just for me.
In fact, you recorded a track with Jennifer Lopez that didn’t make it onto the album…
It’s a super mainstream song. It’s called “Mumba.” I think we may have a deluxe version of the album in December, and I’ll include that track. But when I said, OK, you’re doing a full reggaeton album, I put myself between a rock and a hard place. I have a super huge brand, but I just stuck to my plan. I have another 15 songs. Songs with Flo Rida, songs with Jennifer. But I’m trying to hold this and enjoy this great moment and fulfill myself with this amazing statement.
It must have been hard to say “no” to including a song like that, right?
I listened to my fans. I swear. I closed my eyes. I just climbed into this super high mountain. They told me: “Close your eyes and do this reggaeton album for us.” “Danza Kuduro” was my biggest song ever. It was huge all over the world. And then I got used to working with that kind of music. After “Danza Kuduro,” we did “Taboo,” then “Hasta Que Salga el Sol” and “Zumba.” I call them mainstream urban tracks.
You have a fantastic song with Daddy Yankee, “Tírate al Medio.” It’s very street. Tell us about that.
This is the first step in a Don Omar/Daddy Yankee relationship. We are trying to put together a world tour with Daddy Yankee and Don Omar. We just started, and I think if everything works as I hope, this is gonna be big. We’re at a moment where we just want to work in general. We don’t give a f—. We know we’re successful people.
Will you be on Yankee’s upcoming album?
Yes, I’m going to be on his album, also in Wisin’s album and Yandel’s album. And I am not going to die until I see Wisin & Yandel again on a stage together They’re both big names in the genre.
So, you have a song with Wisin & Yandel, as a duo. And then you have a song with Wisin alone, which is a pretty sexual song…
We had a blast. We spent like a week together. This guy made me laugh. I was thinking, “Why didn’t this happen before?”
What hasn’t happened is, you don’t have any music videos yet for any of the tracks. Why is that?
I want to make the right video. I’d like to do one with Wisin & Yandel. We’ve never done that. Remember I told you I want to try different things with this album? And I want to, for the first time, film a Don Omar/Yankee video. I’m trying to pull something big.
And then you rap, in “Callejero.” I’d forgotten how good you were as a rapper…
I really like rap. It’s one of the few opportunities I have to unload as William and bring forth my values and feelings. Not just like an artist, like Don Omar. This time I did it with Tego Calderon, and it was a great opportunity to share with a great friend in the studio. I love him and I would love to do a whole studio album with him.
“Callejero” (From the Streets) is a very social-minded track and talks about life in the streets. It’s not a party track by any means…
I’m 37 years old. I’m developing programs for kids. I’m working with the government of Puerto Rico. We are trying to bring corporations to benefit schools. It is important for me. At the end of the day, Don Omar sells albums. But I’m trying never to lose me. Being William. I think I had told you before that I’m writing a book. It’s just quotes. And I just wrote a quote saying: “If you can help, you shouldn’t regret that.” I was speaking with Akon the other day, and he said, “Don, I’m not into hanging out because I’m working for a company that’s going to bring power for 6,000 families in Africa.”