Daddy Yankee reigns as the King of Calle Ocho
Miami’s annual street party in Little Havana crowns reggaetonero this Sunday.
Miami, prepare to pay homage to your new king. Fear not, Pitbull has not abandoned us. But this weekend, we receive a new monarch to reign over the annual Calle Ocho street festival in the form of Puerto Rican reggaetonero Daddy Yankee. The artist will preside over the court of 1 million festivalgoers who will clog the streets of Little Havana dancing and partying with their favorite Latin artists — like Chino y Nacho, Ilegales, Angel y Khriz and many more — who will perform at the nindifferent stages scattered across Southwest Eighth Street this Sunday. Catch Daddy Yankee at the Power 96 stage (located at Eighth Avenue) where he will perform songs from his latest digital-only album (appropriately titled “King Daddy”) and his hits from records past, like the song that put both him and reggaeton on the map, “Gasolina.” Daddy Yankee chats with The Miami Herald about why it’s good to be king.
How does it feel to be named the King of Calle Ocho?
Oh my god, it’s a great honor. I don’t believe it! It’s a great honor coming from the Cuban community.
As King, what will be your first proclamation?
Just have fun!
What’s your favorite thing about Calle Ocho?
It’s a great carnival. Aside from being a carnival for the Cuban community, it’s all about “el latino.” It’s a big celebration of all Latinos.
You released a digital-only album last year “King Daddy” (in October 2013)? Is this the wave of the future, in your opinion? All digital?
I think it’s not the future, I think it’s the present. There is a classic audience that loves to buys the CDs still because they collect the covers and the art and all that. But basically most have moved forward to digital albums.
How do you feel about the success of the single “La nueva y la ex” (off “King Daddy”)?
That single was a big surprise to me. I dropped the album just for the street and the digital audience and it became an anthem on the radio and in different countries. That’s the reason the label called me and said we need to drop the album physically, so now we are doing a remake of the album. The reason I’m doing it is because of “La nueva y la ex.”
Did you know that you were going to be King of Calle Ocho when you named this album?
No! (laughs) I was surprised when I got the call. It’s a great honor. I’m dying to perform at Carnaval, and the energy, the vibe, is incredible.
What will it be like to perform for a million people?
It’s a wonderful feeling. But when it comes to numbers for me, I give my heart if there are 3, 5, a thousand, a million. You are going to get 100 percent of Daddy Yankee on stage.
You are something of an ambassador for your musical genre, being one of the more globally recognized representatives of reggaeton.
I’m carrying that pressure over my shoulders when I go to Europe and Asia. Different countries where I didn’t know the music was so popular. My role in this music is to keep dropping hits. That’s my main purpose.
When you launched “Gasolina,” did you think reggaeton would be capable of traveling across the world like it has?
We are celebrating the 10-year anniversary of the song and it seems like I brought the song out yesterday. When I’m performing that song, I get to see the reaction like 10 years ago.
You have your hands in a lot of pots: a video game “Trylogy,” a line of ear buds, El Cartel tequila. How do you stay on top all of these other business interests when you are touring?
Number one is having the right team, knowing that I wanted to become more brand than a regular artist. That was my mission. I was watching great artists doing great things for their community; I’m talking about Diddy, Jay-Z, so I thought I want to do the same thing for Latinos. I’m happy that I can work like that.
You were really successful with your self-produced film, “Talento del Barrio.” Do you have any more plans to go into film?
I love acting and I would love to make another movie, but it’s hard to really get involved with a movie, and then you have tours. It was a great experience, but at the same time, it was too much for me: I’m in a movie and I’m on tour. I just want to focus on music, and the next time I make a movie, I want to prepare the agenda to just make the movie. For now, I am just going to focus on creating music and keep expanding my brand.
You have eleven Premios Juventud Awards, nine Billboard Latin Music Awards, four Premios Lo Nuestro Awards, and two Latin Grammys. Where do you keep all of them?
I have a special room in my house for all those awards.
Are you going to put your “King of Calle Ocho“ crown in there?
Of course! It’s like a great thing that I will show to my grandchildren.
11 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday, March 9
SW Eighth Street, 8th-27th Avenues, Miami
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