January 19, 2006

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Daddy Yankee, Barrio Fino en Directo
Interscope/El Cartel, 2006
A-

Live performances are, all too often, a deathblow for hip-hop artists.

It borders tragedy when you see someone like 50-Cent barely move on stage, or hear Nelly sing out of tune more than he’s in tune, or witness a seemingly fast-tongued lyricist run out of breath mid-song.

Too many times it turns out that the masters of the mike inside a studio are nothing more than little boys with microphones when they hit the stage.

So, following up a smash hit like 2004’s Barrio Fino with a live album was a gutsy (and perhaps cocky) move for reggaeton don Daddy Yankee. But his confidence is well deserved — Barrio Fino En Directo gives Daddy Yankee fans a chance to hear DY at his most natural, on a stage.

Barrio Fino En Directo is not a traditional live album. It is not a recording of one live show. Rather, the album takes songs from some of the cities DY has visited on his recent tour, like Baranquilla, Colombia; Los Angeles, Calif.; New York City and of course Puerto Rico (where DY performs a fantastic, energetic version of his biggest hit, “Gasolina”).

The album also features five new tracks, including the single “Rompe,” and “Gangsta Zone,” featuring Snoop Dogg.

While these studio tracks help confirm DY’s firm hold on the reggaeton world, the live tracks are what set Barrio Fino En Directo apart from other albums.

But I’m not sure if all the credit should go to Daddy Yankee. Sound engineers, backup musicians and singers as well as those who mixed and mastered the album deserve a lot of credit for helping make sure this album didn’t sound amateurish.

What Barrio Fino En Directo does is make us want to see Daddy Yankee live (which you can do with the DVD that comes with the album). It makes you want to be part of the crowd, a crowd that makes a number of auditory appearances throughout the album.

— Richie Victorino

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