Daddy Yankee

Barrio Fino en Directo

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Daddy Yankee kept his presence front and center amid the reggaeton feeding frenzy of 2005, releasing a very satisfying stopgap package, Barrio Fino en Directo, in late 2005, just in time for the holiday shopping rush. The title references Daddy's super-selling album from a year before, Barrio Fino, and the album serves as a nice companion piece, reflecting upon all the success that album enjoyed in the wake of its release. This CD/DVD package has a little bit of everything: the CD features a ten-track seamless set of live recordings from all over America (North and South), and it also features several new recordings, including collaborations with Snoop Dogg and Paul Wall, while the DVD features live concert footage, the "Corazones" video, various documentary footage, and a photo gallery. It all adds up to a lot of entertainment value, and a lot of insight into what's made Daddy Yankee such a phenomenon. In particular, the live recordings are especially impressive. The sound quality is pristine -- on a par with his studio recordings -- and the performances are absolutely electrifying, all of them recorded in giant arenas packed full of tens of thousands of screaming fans (check "Lo Que Pasó, Pasó," where the entire arena sings along, word for word). If you have any reservations about the reggaeton movement, the mania of these live performances will be all the evidence you need -- this is no trend; this is a full-fledged movement, one with strong sociopolitical undercurrents. (The other Daddy Yankee live album released in 2005, the archival Ahora Le Toca al Cangri, pales in comparison.) The new studio recordings are all promising, raising the level of anticipation for Daddy's next studio album to a ridiculous level. Of particular interest are the collaborations with Snoop and Paul Wall, as these two popular rappers try their best to adjust their flows to the tricky, fleet-footed rhythms of reggaeton. The DVD footage is engaging, though somewhat of a mishmash -- a grab bag of content that functions chiefly as a visual scrapbook of Daddy's whirlwind year. Fans will love Barrio Fino en Directo. It's no cash-in; it's a lovingly assembled stopgap release with good intentions. Anyone new to Daddy Yankee, however, will want to start with Barrio Fino. It's a great, hit-filled album that's a prerequisite to understanding why this young swaggering Puerto Rican was able to captivate arenas full of Latinos in all corners of the Western Hemisphere.