At London’s O2 Arena, Daddy Yankee Shows Reggaeton Is a Global Genre

Luisa Campbell, 14, has been a Daddy Yankee fan since she heard his song “Gasolina” as a child. When she found out through social media that El Cangri would be performing at London’s O2 Arena, she asked her mother, Ute Campbell to go with her.

“I love him, and I never thought he would be performing in London. It’s amazing,” said Luisa, who is from Germany but lives in London with her family.

The crowd of more than 15,000 that went to see Yankee at O2 Arena on Saturday night (June 22), where he performed as part of his global tour, was a multicultural bunch: Latins, of course, but also Brits, Europeans, Russians. Most spoke English, and just like Luisa, many were German, while others were from countries such as Russia, Italy, Portugal and even India.

“London, are we ready? — Estamos ready?” Yankee greeted them in English and Spanish, fully aware that, unlike when he performs in the U.S. and Latin America, this crowd was made up of many non-Spanish speakers who were lovers of his movement.

“We love reggaeton,” said Alyna Nastas, who is from Spain but lives in London. “I think it’s fantastic that artists such as Daddy Yankee are coming to perform in London, and we would like to see more.”

Throughout the 90 minute concert, Daddy Yankee made sure that the representation of Latino Culture was loud and clear while highlighting his Puerto Rican heritage. And though he did everything he could to translate his words from Spanish to English, it was evident that the impact of reggaeton throughout the world has broken barriers. In London, where most of the population’s first language is not Spanish, the O2 arena hosted a crowd filled with people singing encore to songs such as “Limbo,” “Shaky,” “Dura” and “Azukita.”

“Thanks to all my Latinos in the house, and thanks to everybody in London who came to see me,” said The Big Boss, pointing out flags from the audience such as Colombia, Russia, Mexico, Spain and even his very own Puerto Rico. “Too much ‘rumba’ [party] — we Latinos bring the Fire!”

Yankee, who throughout the night sang classics such as “Rompe,” “Lo que Pasó Pasó,” “Ella me Levantó” and “Gasolina,” wore a red matching pants and top combo, while his dancers all wore blue outfits, together perfectly representing the Puerto Rican flag. Though he kept the outfit on for the full performance and the dancers changed various times, the colors of the island’s flag were still prominent throughout the night in flashing lights and graphics.

Daddy Yankee made it clear that he’s proud of where he comes from, but also, how he began. Using rapping and free-styling as his medium, he told stories of when he started his career more than 20 years ago.

While performing songs like “Despacito,” that in his career’s trajectory have become absolute hits and given him international leverage, the artist also took time to talk about when he was just a “kid in the hood with big dreams” and how he transformed into one of the pioneers of reggaeton.

“I’ve known about Daddy Yankee since I was a little kid,” said Christopher Anderson, 29, who is of Caribbean heritage, but was born and raised in London. Anderson came with his girlfriend, Ismel Fernandez, who is from Dominican Republic.

“Thank you so much to all who have supported me since La Gasolina,” said Yankee. “This is the original. El que lo inventó. El original. Lo demás es copia.”

Read the article on Billboard.com