Legacy artists want exit methods. Today, with pandemic disruptions closing off profitable live-performance alternatives, quite a lot of the most important names in rock and pop historical past have taken headline-grabbing catalog buyouts of their sizable discographies for eight- to nine-figure sums. However departing the leisure trade isn’t solely about cashing out; it’s additionally about leaving one’s followers on the absolute best phrases, guaranteeing that those that supported you all these years aren’t left unhappy. So over this previous weekend, when Daddy Yankee formally introduced his retirement from music, it made sense that the assertion was tied to a brand new, and apparently ultimate, album launch.
Solely the Puerto Rican celebrity himself might get away with naming his farewell full-length with a portmanteau as cocksure as Legendaddy, a title fittingly in keeping with his notion of himself (with respect to Don Omar) because the King of Reggaeton. Following ring announcer extraordinaire Michael Buffer’s fulsome introduction, opening monitor “Campeón” bursts with braggadocio, with Daddy Yankee describing himself as each boss and legend alike, the logical conclusion to a self-penned narrative some 20 years previous.
Barrio Fino and its incendiary single “Gasolina” made Yankee the face of reggaeton in 2004, and, considerably counterfactually, its de facto originator. Although his style tenure precedes that second, going again to the times of DJ Playero mixtapes 10 years prior, his success didn’t simply popularize the sound, but additionally nudged it towards the legitimacy it enjoys right now. Sadly, numerous others who constructed this tradition with and round him burned out or light away, vestigially revered by these in-the-know for his or her contributions, however left removed from the elite worldwide class he’s operated firmly inside up till now. Generationally, he stays successfully peerless, a once-uncertain end result contemplating among the well-intentioned but deeply dated missteps current on a few of his albums.
This, in fact, comes as a product of Yankee’s up to date evolution right into a full-fledged pop star, one correctly crystallized by 2017’s large and ubiquitous “Despacito” after years of working round his streetwise breakthrough. Properly-timed with the rise of reggaeton’s wider international pop success across the likes of J Balvin and Ozuna, the sheer accessibility and business plundering discovered on later singles just like the Snow interpolation “Con Calma” and “Que Tire Pa Lante” appeared to lastly slough off the final of his bad-boy picture. Regardless of his late-period penchant for borrowing from different artists’ universally recognizable hits to construct his personal, the one really overt utility of this technique on Legendaddy comes on “Pasatiempo,” a thumping collab with the like-minded Myke Towers, the place producers Play N Skillz cheekily replay the melody of Robyn S’s “Present Me Love.”
A giant a part of why Legendaddy proves to be his greatest album since Barrio Fino is its tacit rejection of nostalgia as his main power. Tracks like “La Ola” and the lure banger “Enchuletiao” really feel basically up to date, reminding us that he’s been half of the present Latin music motion in a fabric manner. Additionally efficient are “El Abusador Del Abusador” and “Rumbatón,” which respectively add a tropical aptitude to the combo, thereby leaning into the island rhythms that preceded his chosen style.
Yankee’s alternative of vocal collaborators additional helps this forward-looking method, pulling largely from a relatively youthful crop of identifiable names, together with Rauw Alejandro, Becky G, and Natti Natasha. As an early supporter of Dangerous Bunny, going again to their 2017 joint single “Vuelve,” El Conejo Malo returns that kindness sevenfold on the storming standout “X ÚLTIMA VEZ.” Equally, Sech brings his R&B vibes to “Papra Siempre,” persevering with a momentous run of collabs that embrace the joint hit “Definitivamente” and the Panamanian singer’s “Sal Y Perrea” remix.
That stated, Legendaddy has its flaws, largely reflecting Yankee’s historical past of creating iffy selections that result in uneven albums. On “Bombón,” he blunts the presence of Dominican dembow demigod El Alfa by letting Lil Jon vomit his historic ad-libs over the proceedings, which in flip reduces the monitor to one thing from a Miami lodge pool social gathering in 2012. Much less cringeworthy, although nonetheless a difficult hear, is “Scorching,” a Pitbull partnership that skews a bit too near the stagnant Mr. Worldwide model. Even so, Yankee can afford to take such dangers right here, faring higher in grappling along with his legacy than most in his place seemingly would. Finally, Legendaddy is just not some victory lap marked by secure selections, however as an alternative the sound of a Latin icon ending issues on his personal phrases.