Picture yourself back in the summer of 2005. It�s hot. It�s muggy. It�s uncomfortable. All of the sudden, like a flash of heat-lightening and a clap of thunder, a song comes blasting out of a stereo. That song is �Gasolina� and it is the hit single of one of the most popular stars in the rising genre of reggaeton, Daddy Yankee.
Raymond Ayala was born on February 3, 1977 in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico. After a hard childhood that culminated in a severe leg injury, Ayala would become the infamous Daddy Yankee. Gaining headway with an early 90s partnership with reggaeton pioneer, Playero DJ, Daddy would quickly become a smash success in his homeland of Puerto Rico. Over the next fifteen years, he would go on to record several albums that have sold well over one million copies in Puerto Rico alone. In 2004, he would gain accolades in the United States and Europe as the single (�Gasolina�) from his latest album Barrio Fino
fired up the charts.
Several million copies of Barrio Fino
later, we find ourselves looking at another version of this album. That would be Barrio Fino En Directo
. This latest album contains many songs from Barrio Fino
itself, as well as tracks from previous Daddy Yankee albums and several previously unreleased recordings.
Barrio Fino En Directo
showcases a harder side of the Latin dance music, reggaeton. Truthfully, it draws more comparisons to modern day hip-hop than anything else. Also truthfully, when stacked against modern day hip-hop, this live album races ahead of the pack.
Recorded from concerts in locales ranging from New York City, to Los Angeles, to San Juan, Puerto Rico, or the Dominican Republic, Barrio Fino En Directo
is something of a �worldly� experience. In addition to the actual music, Barrio Fino En Directo
also includes a bonus DVD with behind-the-scenes footage, interviews, and music videos.
Barrio Fino En Directo
starts off with the �En Directo� intro track. It sets the mood for the live set to come. Cheering fans and developing music foreshadow a strong climax. Then, Daddy Yankee�s voice is heard to announce his arrival to Puerto Rico. This cuts into �King Daddy,� the next track. The first to feature Daddy�s spanglish rhymes and penchant to use ambitious music, �King Daddy� is a hard, powerful way to introduce this collection. �Dale Caliente,� starts of with some nice instrumentation that cuts into some hard rapping (complete with women!). I couldn�t help but find myself dancing along to the salsa meets rap flavor of this song. �El Empuja� adds something like a middle-eastern beat to the mish-mash. �Tu Principe� which features the vocals of Latin reggaeton stars Zion Y Lennox is a softer change of pace. This is one of the better songs to be featured on this collection; it has a smoother, more R&B feel to it.
�Santifica Tus Escapularios,� features more of that salsa/middle-eastern melting pot that seems to treat Daddy so well. Straight up spanglish rapping make this another most listen from this collection. �Corazones� is a strong (almost arrogantly so) track with powerful music and hard rapping. This song basically says to you, �Get up on a stage and freestyle. Don�t care if you look like an idiot, because you�re doing it for the music.� Now that may sound silly, but that�s my assessment. �No Me Dejes Solo,� is a smooth, lyrical song. This is evidenced mostly by Daddy�s stopping to allow the crowd to sing along. It continues En Directo
�s tendency to go from hardcore rapping to softer, more pop-like songs.
Next up we have the pure salsa beat of �Lo Que Paso, Paso.� This song is just wonderful. It�s amazingly catchy as well as just fun to listen to. It also showcases Daddy�s ability to write a song that sounds like Latin music (which is a very good thing). This probably the second best track on the album.
Hmm" What�s this" We have a pause with some random noise. This can only mean one thing: This next song is the one we�ve all been waiting for. Daddy Yankee�s international smash-hit, �Gasolina.� As the singing rings out �Dad-dy Yan-kee!� you know that the time has come. �Gasolina� is a fairly weak song to begin with. I can understand why it did so well, but when you stack it up against all the other music En Directo
offers, it seems to pale in comparison. Still, the live version is fairly loyal to its studio-recorded counterpart. I wouldn�t be surprised if I heard this come blasting out of some random stereo as I walk down the streets,
Next, En Directo
goes to its studio-recorded, previously unreleased tracks. The first of these is that salsa core �Rompe.� This song is decent at best, and certainly appears to be the target of Daddy�s promotional department recently. �Muchacando,� is a much more impressive display of these recordings. It�s hardcore to the maximum. Daddy comes out singing and rapping in high-speed over his Spanish, Latin, and English vocal lines.
peaks with the next song, �Gangsta Zone.� Featuring the legendary Snoop Dogg, this song is the closest to sounding like a true hip-hop song. Catchy, powerful, and at 3:33 concise, �Gangsta Zone� represents the best that this album has to offer. This song has been playing on repeat in my head for several months, and I recommend it first and foremost to people seeking to look into Daddy Yankee.
�Machete Reloaded,� is a remix of Daddy�s song �Machete,� featuring Houston super-rapper Paul Wall. I�m not particularly fond of Paul Wall, or this track for that matter. En Directo
has much better to offer than this inane drivel. The skit �Como Dice Que Dijo� and the song �El Truco,� end this collection. It�s actually a kind of odd way to go out, what with the accordion beats and all. Still, the catchy lyrics and talk of �mambo� make it a decent way to end a good album.
As for the DVD, that�s fairly open to interpretation. It�s a freebie so don�t expect anything amazing: A photo album, some behind-the scenes interviews and looks, as well as several music videos make up this disc.
Reggaeton is on the rise, and it�s safe to say that Daddy Yankee is leading the charge. I would highly recommend looking into this album above any studio album of his, as it encompasses most of his best work. Surprisingly, this is very nice for being live. Perhaps that�s Daddy�s element. All in all this is a solid collection of recordings, and the inclusion of �Gangsta Zone� makes sampling this collection all the more worthwhile.
Fun music, easy to dance to (as reggaeton is intended to be)
Excellent mixture of past and present tracks
Some tracks vary too greatly to sound well in their presentation on the CD
Bonus songs and DVD are lackluster on the whole