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Ramón Luis Ayala Rodríguez (born Feb­ru­ary 3, 1977), known by his stage name Dad­dy Yan­kee, is a Puer­to Rican reg­gae­ton rap­per song­writer and record­ing artist. Ayala was born in Río Piedras, San Juan, Puer­to Rico, and was raised in the Vil­la Kennedy Hous­ing Projects.

While still dab­bling in music, Ayala aspired to be a pro­fes­sion­al base­ball play­er and tried out for the Seat­tle Mariners Major League base­ball team.  Before he could be offi­cial­ly signed, he was hit by a stray round from an AK-47 rifle while tak­ing a break from a stu­dio record­ing ses­sion with reg­gae­ton mix tape icon DJ Playero.  Ayala spent rough­ly one and a half years recov­er­ing from the wound; the bul­let was nev­er removed from his hip, and he cred­its the shoot­ing inci­dent with allow­ing him to focus entire­ly on a music career.  Since then, he has sold over 10 mil­lion albums.

Musi­cal career

1988-03: Ear­ly music career

Dad­dy Yan­kee first appeared on the 1990 DJ Playero’s Mix­tape, Playero 34 with the song So’ Per­sigueme, No te deten­gas. His first offi­cial stu­dio project as a solo artist was No Mer­cy, which was released on April 2, 1995 through White Lion Records and BM Records in Puer­to Rico.  Ear­ly in his career he attempt­ed to imi­tate the style of Vico C. He went on to emu­late oth­er artists in the genre, includ­ing DJ Playero, DJ Nel­son, and DJ Drako, tak­ing ele­ments from their styles in order to devel­op an orig­i­nal style. In doing so, he even­tu­al­ly aban­doned the tra­di­tion­al mod­el of rap and became one of the first artists to per­form reg­gae­ton.

In 2002, El Cangri.com became Ayala’s first album with inter­na­tion­al suc­cess, receiv­ing cov­er­age in the mar­kets of New York and Mia­mi. Bar­rio Fino was released in 2004, and the album received numer­ous awards, includ­ing Lo Nue­stro Awards and a Latin Bill­board, as well as receiv­ing nom­i­na­tions for the Latin Gram­my and MTV Video Music Awards. Bar­rio Fino per­formed well in the sales charts of the Unit­ed States, Latin Amer­i­ca, Europe, and Japan.

Ayala’s next album, Bar­rio Fino, was pro­duced by Luny Tunes and DJ Nel­son among oth­ers and released in July 2004 by El Car­tel Records and VI Music. It was the most high­ly antic­i­pat­ed album in the reg­gae­ton com­mu­ni­ty. Ayala had enjoyed Sal­sa music since he was young, and this led him to include music of gen­res besides reg­gae­ton in the album.  The most promi­nent of these cross-genre sin­gles was “Melao”, in which he per­formed with Andy Mon­tañez.  The album was described as his most com­plete, and with it he intend­ed to intro­duce com­bi­na­tions of reg­gae­ton and oth­er gen­res to the Eng­lish-speak­ing mar­ket.  Bar­rio Fino was fol­lowed up by an inter­na­tion­al tour with per­for­mances in numer­ous coun­tries includ­ing the Domini­can Repub­lic, Ecuador, Mex­i­co, Pana­ma, Peru, Hon­duras, Spain, Colom­bia, Argenti­na, Venezuela, and the Unit­ed States.  The album has sold over 500,000 copies in the Unit­ed States alone and has sold well through­out Latin Amer­i­ca and world­wide.

In 2005, Ayala won sev­er­al inter­na­tion­al awards, mak­ing him one of the most rec­og­nized reg­gae­ton artists with­in the music indus­try.  The first award of the year was Lo Nue­stro Awards with­in the “Latin music” cat­e­go­ry, which he received for Bar­rio Fino.  In this event he per­formed “Gasoli­na” in a per­for­mance that was described as “inno­v­a­tive”.  Bar­rio Fino also won the “Reg­gae­ton Album of the Year” award in the Latin Bill­board that took place on April 28, 2005,  where he per­formed a mix of three of his songs in a duo with P. Did­dy. The album was pro­mot­ed through­out Latin Amer­i­ca, the Unit­ed States, and Europe, reach­ing cer­ti­fied gold in Japan. Due to the album’s suc­cess, Ayala received pro­mo­tion­al con­tracts with radio sta­tions and soda com­pa­nies, includ­ing Pep­si.  His sin­gle “Gasoli­na” received the major­i­ty of votes cast for the sec­ond edi­tion of Pre­mios Juven­tud, in which it received eight nom­i­na­tions and won sev­en awards.  Ayala also made a live pre­sen­ta­tion dur­ing the award cer­e­mo­ny. “Gasoli­na” received nom­i­na­tions in the Latin Gram­my and MTV Video Music Awards.

Dad­dy Yan­kee is said to be influ­enced by Big Dad­dy Kane, Bön Jovi, Michael Jack­son, and Sean Combs. In addi­tion, he men­tioned Hec­tor Lavoe, Ruben Blades, and Juan Luis Guer­ra as major influ­ences to his trop­i­cal music. 

In 2008, Ayala par­tic­i­pat­ed in a cam­paign to pro­mote vot­ing in the 2008 gen­er­al elec­tions in Puer­to Rico. This ini­tia­tive includ­ed a con­cert titled “Vota o qué­date calla­do” (Vote or Remain Silent).

 

 

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