It's unfortunate Daddy Yankee is the poster boy for reggaeton in this country. It's even more unfortunate he used his latest album to declare himself the Big Boss (of reggaeton, one would presume), mainly because the shortcomings of El Cartel: The Big Boss wouldn't be as evident if not for such arrogance. He begins the album by saying — without a trace of sarcasm — "You know that I'm needed/You felt a void without me/There's only one!" Yeah, okay, Daddy. Then there's the chorus, which is simply in English: "The king is back." In the song "En Sus Marca Listo Fuera," Yankee goes back to his bread and butter: high-energy reggaeton with references to street racing. It's easily the best track, but it's no high-octane "Gasolina." The tune "Cambio" is second to board the lifeboat on this sinking disc. "Fuera de Control" and "Ella Me Levantó," which is effective at conjuring a merengue hook and mambo, are salvageable, but their ultra-radio-friendly attitude makes them indistinguishable from most reggaeton on the air. After that, El Cartel hits the wall. If not for guest appearances (Akon, Nicole the Pussy Cat Doll, will.i.am, Hector "El Father," and Fergie), the rest of the tracks could easily be confused for one excruciatingly long ode to lackluster lyrics and lackadaisical rhymes. — Bryan Falla
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