Daddy Yankee, American Musician
Ramon Luis Ayala Rodriguez is better known as Daddy Yankee, one of the best known reggaeton musicians in the world today. Reggaeton is a mix of reggae and traditional Latin music born in Puerto Rico, much like Daddy Yankee himself. His success has allowed him to win several promotional contracts, including one for a pair of fragrances, one for men, and one for women.
Puerto Rican Original
The man who would later be known as Daddy Yankee was born in 1977 in Santurce, Puerto Rico, and grew up in the Villa Kennedy Housing Projects. Like many boys in his area, he aspired to be a professional baseball player, though he showed some interest in music, as well. Ramon Ayala was a fairly good player – good enough to try out for the Seattle Mariners. He might well have been signed to the team, and his life would have taken an entirely different route, but instead he was hit by a stray bullet from an AK-17 rifle. It took him well over a year to recover from the wound and the bullet is still in his hip to this day. Ayala would later say the shooting gave him the opportunity to focus on his music instead.
He had always been interested in the underground rap scene in Puerto Rico, which would soon become known as reggaeton. The music of Daddy Yankee, as he dubbed himself, first appeared as part of a mix tape by DJ Playero in 1992, when he was still a teenager. His first solo effort, the album No Mercy, was released in 1995. He was only 18 years of age.
In those days, he was still trying to find his style, borrowing elements from popular Latin rappers who he admired. In doing so, he developed a unique music all his own, and help to pioneer the new genre of reggaeton. This would be the key to unlocking his success. His 2002 album, El Cangri, was not only popular in his native Puerto Rico, but in Miami and New York, as wel. His 2004 album, Barrio Fino, won a number of awards, such as the Latin Billboard and Lo Nuestro Awards, and nominations for the MTV Video Music Awards and the Latin Grammy. Barrio Fino sold well around the world, not only in the United States and the Latin world, but as far away as Europe and Japan. It sold 500,000 copies in just the United States.
The Unique Style of Daddy Yankee
As his fame rose, so did the opportunities for promotion. One of these was a license for fragrances, in collaboration with the Falic Fashion Group. The first one was for men, launched in 2008, with a female version launched two years later.
The original fragrance is the self-named Daddy Yankee. It is a fruity yet still masculine scent, for the sort of young men that would follow his music. It has notes of apple, ginger, suede, amber, Brazilian red wood, and ozone, giving it the relentless energy found in Daddy Yankee’s music.
The female version was given the name DYamante. DY, in capitals, are the initials of Daddy Yankee. Amante is Spanish for lover, and together these elements resemble the word ‘diamante’, Spanish for ‘diamond’. The name implies something both beautiful and romantic, and the fragrance aims to deliver with a sweet, hot scent of the tropics. It contains notes of passion fruit, jasmine, amber, honeysuckle, vanilla, and sandalwood.
Fragrances have only been one part of the marketing strategy that has emerged from Ayala’s success. He was the first Latin Artist to secure a contract with Reebok in 2005, collaborating to produce the DY line of clothing, as well as shoes and sporting goods under the DY label. He is also the force behind Reebok’s Travel Trainer collection.
Not confining himself to music, Ayala has done some work in films, both acting and producing. He first appeared as an extra in a 2004 movie Vampiros, produced in his native Puerto Rico. It was a minor film, but received enough positive reviews to be released on DVD internationally. His next role was Edgar, about a boy who grew up in a Puerto Rico barrio, much like Ayala himself. This movie, Talento de Barrio, broke sales records in Puerto Rico when it opened.
The talent that Daddy Yankee possesses is impossible to deny. An artist, an actor, even a family man, he not only creates, but does much to give back to the community that brought him up, as well. He is known for his charitable efforts to help those Puerto Ricans who did not have the same opportunities as he did.