For a hot minute in the mid-’00s, reggaeton looked like it might emerge as a new strain of hip-hop in mainstream America. It had an instantly identifiable sense of rhythm, huge cachet among the growing young Latino population, and a breakout superstar in Daddy Yankee, a Puerto Rican M.C. whose hit “Gasolina” was responsible for about half of the bad decisions made in nightclubs in 2005.
But after reggaeton joined crunk and snap in the pantheon of mid-decade rap fads and a few crossover collaborations (including a most unlikely John McCain endorsement) didn’t stick nationwide, Daddy Yankee had some choices. Should he keep riding for his signature style, that to-the-hips backbeat and spitfire delivery? Or try and update it for today’s glossy, Ibiza-themed rap productions?
On “Mundial,” he does a bit of both. The regal horns on “Grito Mundial” ride a relentless kick drum and stadium-worthy chants; “Descontrol” and “Rumba y Candela” have a gothic yet head-nodding synthetic sheen. When Yankee is on, there’s no denying his urgency behind a microphone. But “Vida En la Noche” and “Me Enteré” are bogged down with saccharine Auto-Tune and trance beats. Yankee’s been blessed and cursed with a signature sound, and while “Mundial” should keep floors filled, it doesn’t offer too much fuel to move forward.
Two stars (Out of four)
Los Angeles Times