en: Barrio Fino [info]
With a sound primed to dominate this year's Notting Hill Carnival, Daddy Yankee and his naggingly addictive hit single "Gasolina" is the first star of reggaeton -thePuerto Rican take on dancehall that's currently rocking parties from Miami to Moscow. The notion of Hispanic reggae might appear an unlikely one, but five minutes in his company and its appeal is fairly clear. This is a musicwithbounce,and it's transforming popular opinion of Hispanic music.
Yankee is already a huge star in US and Latin America. Barrio Fino, his fifth album, has shifted over 1.5 million units and been riding high on Billboard's Latin chart for most of the year.
That he's crossed over to a mainstream, urban audience is not surprising: language aside, he looks, acts and sounds like any baggy-trewed hip hop kid the world over. Stylistically, imagine Nelly after downing three pints of lucozade and a Spanish dictionary. And, given the banality of the average Nelly lyric, the fact that most English-speakers will only understand about 2% of the contents makes that a blessing in disguise.
Where Yankee reigns supreme over the majority of his hip hop peers is in terms of his sheer energy.The fusion of salsa, dancehall and hip hop on tracks like "Lo Que Paso", "Sabor A Melao" and, of course, "Gasolina", is like being strapped to a particularly lascivious booty. Little wonder that reggaeton dances have the reputation of Roman orgies and the move of choice is termed La Perreo. That's doggy-style to you and me.
Whether reggaeton is destined to bea niche genre in the UK is a moot point. That said, "Gasolina" alone is undoubtedly one of the singles of the year - and if you listen closely enough - you can hear the careers of Ricky Martin and Enrique Iglesias crumbling into dust.