As reggaeton’s primary ambassador and best-known name, Daddy Yankee spearheaded a new wave of Latin music into the mainstream. He’ll try to take his career to the next level with “El Cartel: The Big Boss,” due June 5 as his first full studio album to be released under his joint-venture deal with Interscope. The first single is the Scott Storch-produced “Impacto,” an English remix of which features Fergie.
The album has some English but is primarily sung in Spanish. “That’s who I am. That’s my essence,” Daddy Yankee tells Billboard. “I’ve told you I speak ‘Tony Montana English.’ But I feel that’s part of who I am. If I polish it too much, it won’t be me.”
Daddy Yankee acknowledges reggaeton got stuck in a bit of a creative rut after it crossed over to the mainstream. “There was a musical pattern that never changed,” he says. “[But] I try to never go back to what I’ve done before. For me, every hit has its moment. I never stick to a formula. If you’re an artist and you like your art and you look for your hit in the same way, you’ll go nuts, because it will never happen. When people hear ‘El Cartel,’ they’ll hear something totally different, and they’ll want to follow that pattern.”
The artist remains adamant about not affiliating with liquor endorsements, “because in my personal life there were problems with drugs and alcohol,” he says. “It really touches me because it goes back to when I was a kid.”
Asked if he’s addressed these subjects in his music, Daddy Yankee offers, “No. Out of respect for my father, who I’m still very close to. I would like to talk about what I lived in my home, but it’s so raw that I don’t want to offend my father. Because I understand it’s an illness. Now I understand that, and we try to help. And now, he’s been clean for over six months.”
Daddy Yankee will embark on a 40-date tour of the U.S. and Latin America on Aug. 31 in Chicago.