Yandel on His Solo Career: "I'm Happy Making My Own Music, It's Refreshing"

From his early days cutting hair and trimming beards as a barber en la isla del encanto to global reggaeton dominance and Billboard Latin Award-winning success with Wisin y Yandel to his solo career, Llandel Veguilla Malavé (AKA Yandel) has never stopped striving to become a legend. Or as he might say, un leyenda. But that doesn't mean he can't be caught off guard.

"I just woke up," laughs el reggaetonero when he answered Crossfade's phone call last week. "This is hard. I'm on my way to Washington. Yesterday, I was in Chicago. I've already done like eight shows. I've been running around a lot. And thank God, it's been very successful."

And on Friday, Yandel will be "Moviendo Caderas" at the Fillmore Miami Beach as he closes off his first solo tour in the Magic City.

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This isn't the first time that he's brought el baile to the 305. Back in April, Yandel rocked the sandy shores of SoBe at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach for the BleauLive Concert Series. And actually, it seems Yandel can't get enough of Miami.

"I'm very impressed by the people of Miami," he admits. "They're very special and love my music to the max. This time I'm more excited because I'm closing off the tour and I want to finish with gold."

But even if his frequent vacations to our sandy shores might indicate otherwise, the past year has been a big, sometimes stressful gamble for Yandel. Obviously, touring and making music is nothing new for him. However, going solo after belonging to the biggest reggaeton duo on the planet was a serious risk.

He'd actually already tried and failed to strike out on his own. About four years after their debut, 2000's Los Reyes del Nuevo Milenio, Wisin spent some alone time in the recording studio working on El Sobreviviente, while Yandel dedicated hours to Quien Contra Mí.

But not gaining the success that they had hoped for, the two got back together, started WY Records, and in 2005, released what's become their most successful album to date, Pa'l Mundo, which includes some of their biggest hits like "Rakata," "Llamé Pa' Verte (Bailando Sexy)," and "Pam Pam."

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Now, though, as a more established artist, Yandel says going solo has been a "refreshing" experience.

"Musically, I don't have to ask anyone to see if they like it," he explains. "I make my own decisions. If I like this music, I could just do it. When I make my own videos, I think it's more focused on personal taste.

"I love to work with W [Wisin]. I'm very grateful for everything we've done. Aside from the fact that he's like my brother, we've already worked together for so many years and you have to do something different to get out of your comfort zone. So I'm very happy I'm making my own music."

Still, no matter how successful an artist may be, every new endeavor comes with its own set of pitfalls.

"It was a double-edged sword," el músico admits. "But we tried and I think it's easier for us now because we've established a strong fanbase and are better grounded."

And so far, things are looking bright. His latest solo album, De Líder a Leyenda, debuted at number one on Billboard's Top Latin Albums chart in November 2013 before being certified gold earlier this year.

"I did a very different mix [for this record]," Yandel says. "You'll find reggaeton, pop, electronic, and ballad elements. I mixed it up without taking away that urban sound. And I also collaborated with artists, like Daddy Yankee and Don Omar, that gave it good results."

"The videos are also great. "Hablé de Ti" and "Moviendo Caderas" have been very strong, and that's the result of this tour."

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Music aside, Yandel is putting his entrepreneur skills to the test and diving into the retail business.

"I'm working on Soy Un Duro, it's a brand. I'm gonna make hats, clothes, it's a label that's starting to grow and people are starting to say they love it. It's very impressive in the way they're selling. I'm very happy."

But for right now, it's all about la música.

Yandel recently remixed "Humanos A Marte" for Chayanne, which is a pretty big deal given that el cantante rarely collaborates with other artists, is on the verge of releasing a music video for "Déjate Amar" on Vevo on June 27, and is already working on his third solo album, Dangerous.

"But I'm just very happy that all of my fans didn't leave me behind," Yandel confesses. "It's a blessing they are supporting me on this new path.

"I'm very focused on music. It's my passion."

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Yandel. Saturday, June 28. The Fillmore Miami Beach,1700 Washington Ave., Miami Beach. The concert starts at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $40 plus fees via livenation.com. Call 305-673-7300 or visit fillmoremb.com.

Follow Crossfade on Facebook and Twitter @Crossfade_SFL.

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