Ramón Luis Ayala Rodríguez (born February 3, 1977), known professionally as Daddy Yankee, is a Puerto Rican singer, songwriter, rapper, actor and record producer. Ayala was born in Río Piedras, Puerto Rico, and was raised in the neighborhood of Villa Kennedy Housing Projects. Daddy Yankee is the artist who coined the word Reggaeton in 1994 to describe the new music genre that was emerging from Puerto Rico. He is known as the “King of Reggaetón” by music critics and fans alike.
Daddy Yankee is often considered to be one of the pioneers within the Reggaeton genre. Ayala was originally going to become a professional baseball player but he was shot in his leg while taking a break from a studio recording session. The bullet was never removed and he credits this incident with allowing him to pursue a musical career. He first appeared on the 1991 DJ Playero‘s Mixtape, Playero 34, with the song “So’ Persigueme, No Te Detengas”. His first official studio project as a solo artist was No Mercy, which was released on April 2, 1995 through White Lion Records and BM Records in Puerto Rico. Early in his career he attempted to imitate the rap style of Vico C. He went on to emulate other artists in the genre, including DJ Playero, DJ Nelson, and Tempo taking elements from their styles in order to develop an original style with the Dembow rhythm. In doing so, he eventually abandoned the traditional model of rap and became one of the first artists to perform reggaeton. Throughout the 1990s, Daddy Yankee appeared in several of DJ Playero’s underground mixtapes which were banned by the Puerto Rican government due to explicit lyrics; these songs would later be among the first reggaeton songs ever produced. DJ Playero and Daddy Yankee would later be credited for inventing the name “Reggaeton” to describe their music on the album Playero 36 in 1994