Daddy Yankee is more than just a shade-bearing reggeatonero with a passion for mujeres Latinas ... The Puerto Rican papi runs a frickin' empire.
The Big Boss is head of El Cartel Records. He peddles his own El Cartel tequila and DY fragrance line. He's even the commissioner of the NBC's latest MMA reality show, Combate Americas, on mun2.
But the most, say, interesting business venture Daddy Yankee has wandered into is the gaming biz. Last November, el Cangri launched Trylogy, a video game starring el cantante himself, where he fights villains in outer space, one sexy dancer at a time.
The Big Daddy took some time off from "saving the planet" to chat with Crossfade about his upcoming gig on Sunday as King of Calle Ocho. Here's what el Máximo Líder had to say about Trylogy, las nenas de Miami, and America's largest street bash.
Crossfade: I'll start off by congratulating you on King Daddy, it debuted at #1 on iTunes the same day it was released.
Daddy Yankee: Thank you.
What's different about this album is that it was released digitally, making it the first digital-only album to be released in the Latin music industry. What made you wanna do that and why do you think it's been so successful?
Number one, because we move forward to the present, but also I wanted to teach everybody to go to this platform and buy music from it because I know little by little, that's gonna be our present for the Latin audience. The American audience is buying everything digitally right now, but not the Latin audience. When you go to Mexico, Latin America, and some parts of the Caribbean, they're still buying records. But if I know I have everybody buying music digitally, the numbers are gonna be bigger.
Did you ever imagine when you started your career back in '95, that you would be named one of the most influential Hispanics in the world by CNN and Time, and be the winner of two Latin Grammys, among other awards?
Never in my life did I dream that, but right now, I'm living it. I'm grateful and it's a great honor for me and I feel blessed. I can't think of better word that describes how I feel.
When did you know you were gonna be a big reggeaton star?
You know, there's a thing that I tell everyone who asks me that. I grew up in the rap era and I know rap back in the day, in the American market, they didn't take it seriously, but now it's a big culture even 30 years. When I had the same format but in Spanish, I knew that the same thing was gonna happen with us in the Latin market. That's the urban and street market. I knew I was gonna have success, but not on a global status. I wasn't expecting that kind of success.
Music aside, you have your own fragrance line, tequila brand, and even head phones, do you consider yourself more of a music man or business man?
You know, that's a good question. I think I have to learn to take time for everything. When I wake up in the morning, it's all about business and working, but once I go into the studio, it's art. Some people say business and art don't get along, but I also learned that once the art is done, that's a business.
You recently released a video game [Trylogy]. What's it about?
The video game is a big test for me right now. I have big followers on Facebook and Twitter, but it's a challenge for me. It hasn't been easy, so I'm learning more on how I can become successful in that platform.
I'm really curious though, what's the game about?
It's music and it's entertainment, and it has a lot of females in different planets and in the universe.
Can you describe it to me?
I have to rescue a lot of girls from different villains. It's a pretty cool game, but like I told you, I need to market it more.
How do you score points and win?
You have to collect points in different planets and levels. It's 3D. It's the ultimate technology. The graphics are pretty dope and everybody that plays it says it's incredible. I think we have to make it easier for consumers. It's on a planet, but with dancers and me. I'm trying to save the dancers. It's a hot game, but it's tough.
So there's a bunch of hot women you have to save?
Yes, hot, sexy, beautiful women.
I've seen your video for "Limbo," and the way you're describing the game, I envision these beautiful women dressed in tribal gear, like in the video, lost somewhere in the jungle, but only this time, you have to go out and save them.
[Laughs] Kinda like "Limbo," but more futuristic. It's me saving the girls all the time.
Do you teach us your dancing ways?
I don't dance, I just save the dancers.
Talk to me about El Cartel. What inspired you to create your own line of tequila?
The tequila company actually called me up, if I remember correctly, like three or four years ago, saying, 'I have a tequila brand called El Cartel and I heard you have a record label called the same thing. I think it makes sense for us to partner up and do the tequila.' So I tried it, thought it was the best, and went for it. It's the best of the best, 100 percent agave, and we have a great empire in L.A., and in the rest of the U.S., it's getting popular every day because of the quality of it.
Is that the only tequila you drink?
[Laughs] Of course, one million percent.
Before we connected, Mayna [El Rey's publicist] was telling me that you're the commissioner of this new MMA show, Combate Americas. Can you tell me more about that?
Combate Americas is a reality show based in MMA. We're targeting the Latin audience. Why? Because Latinos love to watch fights, whether it's boxing, wrestling.
Have you ever practiced MMA?
Yeah, I practiced it. It's hard for me though because I'm a student of the sport. I come from a boxing background. Before becoming an artist, I was a boxing fighter. That's the other reason why I got involved with the show. I know the sacrifices of getting up at 5 a.m., dieting... And it's cool because they see, 'Yankee is no BS. He knows about this.'
You'll be in Miami this weekend for Calle Ocho. What's your favorite thing to do here?
Oh my God, Miami is a great city. I love it so much. Oh my God, I love to go out. I think it's part of the rule, you have to go to the club when you're in Miami [laughs]. Miami is known to be all about la rumba, it has that soul.
Do you have a favorite club or hang out spot?
Different spots, I can't tell you because people will go there and I want to have fun, baby.
No crazy Miami fans stalking you, huh?
[Laughs] You need to have your time to really enjoy life. I spend time with great people who go out to the clubs and have a lot of fun.
What do you think about the women of Miami?
Oh my God.
We're gorgeous, aren't we? Kidding.
Oh my God, what can I say? Miami is Miami. You've got the most beautiful women in the world all in one place. There are so many Latinas, it's incredible.
What are you gonna bring to Calle Ocho as King?
It's the first time I'm King, that's why it's every special. As King, I'm gonna bring a lot of fun and entertainment, you know what I'm saying? You have fun and the people will enjoy it. I'm gonna do my best show and have fun I think that's the best thing to do. It's a people festival, so you need to go with the mentality that I'm a man of the people. I wanna gather everybody and unify the masses.
Are you gonna spray the audience with El Cartel?
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[Laughs] Yeah, I'm gonna go wild. I'm being honest, I'm gonna have a historical weekend.
Calle Ocho 2014. Sunday, March 9, at the corner of SW Eighth Street and 10th Avenue, Miami. The festival begins at 10 a.m. and ends at 7 p.m. Admission is free. Visit carnavalmiami.com.