Let’s take a trip down memory lane. It’s 2004, many of us were busy choosing the best Myspace layout, watching VH1 reruns became life, and Daddy Yankee was on his way to becoming one of the most influential Latinos in music ever.
Fast forward more than a decade and he is so well-known that he launched his own museum, El Jefe Daddy Yankee Museum, located inside the famed mall, La Plaza Las Americas, in Puerto Rico.
However, it’s been a journey for El Cangri (a nickname he donned unto himself) to become the beloved urban artist many have grown to admire. So, in order to understand how he got to where he currently is, we must jump back into a time where his name was still irrelevant to most.
I’m not sure if you remember or even lived through the early 2000s, but it was wild. Those times gave us the beauty of boy bands and the power-driven girl bands. We had the smooth R&B blaring into our radios everytime we could miraculously catch the song, and rap music had us trying to understand what Snoop Dogg meant when he rapped, “Drop it like it’s hot.” A myriad of musical explosions was taking over and I swear, it seems almost magical when I think of it now. Well, maybe it seems magical because times were so much simpler then. Aside from the breeziness of the early 2000s, we can’t forget about the musical strides the Latinx community was creating.
We were out there vibing to “La Camisa Negra” by Juanes, while listening to Marc Anthony’s dramatics in his hit song, “Ahora Quien.” What a time to be alive! Who remembers this? These jams often brought people to sing at the top of their lungs in parties. But there was a song that shook many people, especially the Latinx community, and that was “Gasolina.”
For some reason, “Gasolina” inspired many to immediately shake their bodies to the rhythm of the peculiar beats of this song. Hearing the quick notes followed by the multiple “oh’s” intoxicated your body to the point that you needed to dance (still happens to this day, in all honesty). It was outrageous, yet it was all the fad. That energetic song helped jumpstart the birth of perreo. I even got into it, which was weird considering I was going through my rocker stage, but that’s another story for another time.
Perreo focused on having you move your lower half of your body in a way that blended with the music. Perhaps many of us were just trying to imitate the women that appeared dancing in the “Gasolina” music that came out a few months after. It was controversial, but this movement, that was promoted by El Cangri, quickly became larger than its critics. Without much warning, Daddy Yankee gracefully stormed his way into the music industry. From then on, he went to sell millions of records, collaborate with big names such as Snoop Dogg, and even star in the movie, Talento del Barrio. El Cangri definitely didn’t come to play games in this industry.
It’s been years since Daddy Yankee first gave us a taste of his sound, but there’s no denying that he has solidified his impact all over the world. His urban sounds and dance-provoking music led him to a success no one could’ve ever fathomed. His fame also paved the roads for surging urban artists to join him and to allow them to excel in their art as well.
For many, Daddy Yankee is the forefather of reggaeton. Even the new generation of Latinx urban and reggaeton artists idolize him to a certain extent.
As you can see, his influence has been major. Even people who disliked the idea of reggaeton felt his impact. The truth is that his music and his vibe is difficult to ignore.
This is why I wasn’t surprised when I found out that a museum based on only the life of this talented artist was created — hough I want to be clear, Daddy Yankee was the person guiding the creation and launch of this project. But if anything, this makes him even more legendary.
I had the opportunity to navigate through El Jefe Daddy Yankee Museum on a recent trip to Puerto Rico. I made it just in time before they closed it down, but I’m sure he’ll open it sometime soon again.
As aforementioned, the museum was located inside La Plaza Las Americas, which is the largest mall in the Caribbean. It really is a great mall equipped with many stores that have the ability to distract you for hours. But my objective that day was to roam Daddy Yankee’s museum and I did.
For starters, El Jefe Daddy Yankee Museum greeted you first before you even enter it. Its fluorescent colors draw you in closer as you’re making your way into the door. Once you were in, you were bombarded with an explosion of color. Every wall was decorated with Daddy Yankee’s memorabilia and it did not disappoint.
In some way, the museum moved people through the most heartfelt steps of his journey. I know the idea of the museum was to share Daddy Yankee’s path and accomplishments, but it evokes a lot of emotions as well.
El Jefe Daddy Yankee Museum took people as early as his childhood and made its way to his most recent recognition in his career. I saw his development from a little boy to an adult. The museum took me to the moments he cherished before even knowing that music would become his career. It showed his academic awards, among some others. It was also nice to see some of the props and outfits he had once used at some point of his career. I will say that I was extremely fascinated by how the people responsible for the layout of the museum were able to recreate that barrio feeling into an enclosed space. That space was able to capture his humble beginnings, which contrasted to his now extravagant lifestyle.
I think the most interesting part of the museum is how everything flowed like a story. It was a visual story — a story many of us had already known. However, experiencing it firsthand was on a completely different level.
Every person’s museum experience is always going to vary from the next person’s. This is normal as everyone has their own views on how they perceive art and any experience for that matter. All I can say is that I do recommend checking El Jefe Daddy Yankee Museum out whenever it opens once again. To see Daddy Yankee grow through these objects was totally worth it. I guess the overall beauty of El Jefe Daddy Yankee Museum was in seeing how it is possible to transcend adversities, so as long as you allow yourself to be guided by your passion, dedication, and with some inspiration from those around you.
With that said, stay on the lookout for its next opening!