2022 has been one helluva of a year–from the postponement of the annual Grammy Awards to April 3rd to Maury Povich retiring and Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon performing this summer at Lollapalooza–nothing has churned more emotions than the announcement of Daddy Yankee’s retirement: the architect of who defined reggaeton as a genre. It’s bittersweet for fans, but he leaves with a monstrous send-off on his 8th and final studio album, LEGENDADDY. Being his first album in a decade, we’ve seen reggaeton’s growth from nuanced ballads to pop-bangers which bridge samples of sonic influence. It’s all relative to your cultural roots and the music that inspired you from youth. Daddy Yankee made reggaeton what it is today, allowing for a free flow of ingenuity to become universally accepted as new artists create their foundation. LEGENDADDY takes various eras of reggaeton and weaves them into a musically transcendent timeline of music history, with Daddy Yankee surprising us at almost every turn.
Let’s not mince words: we’ve heard singles throughout the last few years, each showing different directions with auspicious production and captivating flows and melodies as Daddy Yankee ignites a flame into these new, younger artists who he’s influenced. LEGENDADDY features some of these artists as they match wits with the DY, expressing themselves within the sounds they’ve refined themselves. Myke Towers joins Daddy Yankee for “PASATIEMPO,” a stellar dancefloor electro-pop/reggaeton anthem that incorporates more melodies than the reggaeton-trap hybrid “ZONA DEL PERREO” and “HOT.” Whenever Daddy Yankee is trying to command the dancefloor, he juxtaposes these sounds to give us an essence of his range in style. Following “PASATIEMPO,” Daddy Yankee sings and raps over tropical-laced percussion on “RUMBATÓN,” taking away the house-pop sample for authentic representation.
We hear elements of salsa, bolero, or bachata in its rhythm phase of the 2000s, to its hip-hop side and trap/perreo side of today. It’s organized chaos, allowing us to marvel at the work he delivered throughout the years. The production is as vibrant as ever, and each track has its value on the dance floor. Unfortunately, not every track lands on all notes. “ZONA DEL PERREO” suffers from redundant lyricism; it’s a simple track about dancing, particularly perreando or dancing Doggystyle. The production is lush and feels like a waste, as Natti Natasha and Becky G become forgettable with poor mixing and autotune. It isn’t like “AGUA” with Rauw Alejandro and Nile Rodgers, which precedes it. “AGUA” mixes the complexions of reggaeton with disco, bringing a slightly funky bass to round it out while Daddy Yankee and Rauw Alejandro rap and sing in a beautiful tangent.
Daddy Yankee is more than the surface layer reggaeton tracks we hear. Beneath the production, Daddy Yankee rarely takes a step-back with his lyricism, as he flexes and expresses these emotions in coded melodies that have us gyrating whenever we stop doing the 1-2-3 step of Bachata. Within these songs, we hear Daddy Yankee flexing his status as a legend, his humble beginnings, and aspects of relationships–like “IMPARES,” which sees Daddy Yankee lamenting the emotional distance between him and his wife due to his mistakes. Following the previous song, Daddy Yankee raps about his imperfections while finding acceptance in his faults as he justifies opposites attract–this gets juxtaposed by how it expresses hiccups within the relationship. The multiple layers on these tracks come from commanding confidence behind the board and microphones, as Daddy Yankee and his producers create these productions that feel fresh and different than last.
Beyond proclaiming his status on “CAMPEÓN,” Daddy Yankee takes the time to reaffirm it. After a few danceable and emotional bangers, Daddy Yankee comes with “UNO QUITAO Y OTRO PUESTO,” which encapsulates his youth with potent energy in an attempt to lay down his legacy in music form. It’s a true reggaeton-hip hop hybrid that he is known for–it has been one of the reasons I’ve personally been in awe of his talent, from the “Rompe Remix” to “Gangsta Zone” and “TATA Remix,” there isn’t a moment that he fails to show how extensive that utility belt is. This energy is rampant throughout LEGENDADDY, showing in different ways, but nothing as mesmerizing as tracks where he drapes it with powerful verses, like on “ENCHULETIAO,” where he raps about being hooked to the hustle.
LEGENDADDY is a triumph. It shows why Daddy Yankee has been the driving force behind the escalation of the genre today with his influence for the next generation, bridging many genres and languages together. We forget Daddy Yankee was making songs with Fergie and Snoop Dogg before we saw Bad Bunny make a song with Will Smith or DeLaGhetto making a song with Fetty Wap. It’s a fantastic album that plateaus him higher than most pop artists, and his name will remain in the ears of many for years to come.
Posse Cuts have been a cornerstone in hip-hop as a way to build up and deliver these mini events that last forever. They are usually compiled of four or more rappers delivering verses as a cohesive squadron over these gritty instrumentals, influenced in style by the nature around them like the south’s heavy bass. But because of the rose-tinted glasses, a very few of these posse cuts aren’t as great as we like to remember. I’ve always been an avid fan of the posse cut because of the visceral imagery and technical structure that comes from the themes they evoke, with an onslaught of topical takes, like the recent remix of “Fight the Power” that was released in 2019. In many of the posse cut there are themes that extend beyond the simple flex, like Jay-Z’s “Reservoir Dogs,” and creates a statement about the socio-political climate or to give the culture more diverse representation.
With the release of new albums from a master of the posse cut, DJ Khaled, and new supergroup Mt. Westmore (Ice Cube, Too Short, Snoop Dogg, & E-40) on April 30th, I have compiled a random collection of 15 Great Posse Cuts of the last 30 years.
MARS (DREAM TEAM) – CORMEGA FT. AZ, REDMAN, & STYLE P
Cormega has been an unsung hero of the 2000s for New York hip-hop, as he has dwelled within the second tier of artists delivering consistent quality and gaining a reputation amongst many hip-hop artists; some are heavy weights and others are not, but what this is track is, is another reaffirmation that these artists together are a dream team. And having any of them perform is like a shift in direction toward mars. With the production evoking an essence of golden age 90s hip-hop with soul boom-bap style, brings out their visceral imagery with their flows and lyrics.
IT G MA (REMIX) – Keith Ape Ft. Waka Flocka Flame, Dumbfoundead, Father, & ASAP FERG
This unconventional trip of a track boosts the testosterone to the nines as the music’s bass and synths bellow through your eardrums. “It G Ma,” captures the essence of the original by building up the quintessential flex from Keith Ape and the featured artist. Each individual artist brings provocatively unique flair to the track that dilutes and warps the mind to an unworldly sonic plain.
LATINO PT. 2 – Joell Ortiz Ft. Emilio Rojas, Chris Rivers, & Bodega Bamz
“Latino Pt. 2” features a new generation of Latino rappers, including Big Pun’s son Chris Rivers. Over a samba-salsa-like hip-hop production, the artists reflect on what it means to be Latino in this world. From the social manipulation and fiscal struggles, they demonstrate a consistent anger to fight the perceived Latino/Hispanics stereotypes. As they start the comparison to their life and the world around them (impoverished neighborhoods), they lay out all the grievances with dynamic flows and rhythmic deliveries.
EASTERN CONFERENCE ALL STARS – SKYZOO FT. BENNY THE BUTCHER, WESTSIDE GUNN, CONWAY THE MACHINE, & eLZhi
Pete Rock produces a nuanced piano-centric track that flourishes with the underground flair of Skyzoo and the featured artists. They bring forth lyricism focusing on building up their stature and talent by weaving together the many metaphors with the rhyme schemes. Though the title may come off as too subjective, depending on how you perceive the “members,” on the popular status, but within the hip-hop community they are in the upper echelon.
FANTASTIC FOUR PT. 2 – DJ CLUE FT. THE LOX, CAM’RON, NATURE, & FABOLOUS
You can’t walk through the tri-state metro area without knowing the powerhouse in-studio DJs for the Hip-Hop radio stations, and the secondary – wider ranged channel – Power 105 has the answer to match wits with Hot97. DJ Clue is one of those DJs and his prominence in the area is bigger than his albums, which delivered a range of phenomenal bangers. One of them, “Fantastic Four Pt. 2,” brings out the best of New York Hip-Hop and DJs, with Clue immaculate production and hype-man adlibs makes it a quintessential part of the culture in the 90s/00s. It features two members of The Lox (Sheek Louch & Styles P), Nature, Cam’ron, and an up-and-coming Fabolous giving us unique flexes all exhuming the attitude brought about from “So Fresh, So Clean,” by Outkast.
BLACKOUT – DMX FT. THE LOX & JAY-Z
The 90s in New York was a beast we have yet to experience again, but within the culture many artists rose to prominence with these dark and aggressive overtones that have us hearing a stance on their artistry. “Blackout” brings out that energy and more as The Lox, DMX, and Jay-Z comes full force with that demeanor and more on this symphonic and gritty percussion and strings.
1 TRAIN – ASAP ROCKY, JOEY BADASS, KENDRICK LAMAR, YELAWOLF, DANNY BROWN, ACTION BRONSON, & BIG K.R.I.T.
It was one of the most anticipated tracks on ASAP Rocky’s debut, Long.Live.ASAP. And this illustrious posse cut, that compiled some of the best up-and-coming rappers through the United States, delivered on the hype from the paper. The production evokes sounds of the ominous New York streets, using ghostly strings and snares to give their verses an oomph, as they deliver a fragrance filled to the nines with confidence and contrasting emotions carrying over from the past and present, most of which are incurred from doubt. This posse cut could also be known as leaders of the new school, when they were new in the early 2010s.
PINATA – FREDDIE GIBBS, G-WIZ, DOMO GENESIS, MEECHY DARKO, CASEY VEGGIES, SULAIMAN & MAC MILLER
Piñata is a prototypical posse cut with themes pertaining to flexing as hard as you can; even though other tracks have different concepts, the notion of bringing your all isn’t gone. Madlib’s production has this ominous – atmospheric string overlay on the track to bring out each rapper’s unique flow. Freddie Gibbs gathers a great collection of artists for this, with highlights from everyone and especially Mac Miller whose flow is as uncanny as we’ve heard from at the point. His goofy-straight demeanor takes a backseat for this drug infused verse where he matches wits with the rest of the rappers, as he was the weakest lyricist of the lot. But everyone delivers with finesse and the track opens doors for some to discover many great rappers on both coasts, the west coast and east.
DUSTED N’ DISGUSTED – E-40 FT. SPICE-1, MAC MALL, & 2PAC
E-40, his Bay Area brethren, and 2Pac come forth to deliver this unique track that oozes Bay Area G-Funk. Though not much different from more prominent artists in the area, the bubbly funk textures makes E-40, and Spice 1’s speak-rapping as uniquely profound as Rex Harrison’s perpetually eloquent speak-singing. 2Pac’s verse transitions smoothly with the G-Funk flair on the percussion and everyone’s verse oozing perfectly balanced and infectious rhythmic structures.
NOTORIOUS THUGS – THE NOTORIOUS B.I.G. FT. BONE THUGS N HARMONY
The story behind the conception of the song always intrigues me a little more than the song itself. However, after watching the recent documentary on Netflix, I’ve been more intrigued about that demo where he rapped over “Toto” by Africa. But I digress. “Notorious Thugs,” came about from BIG’s awe and fascination with the speed and rhythm of featured artist Bone Thugs N Harmony, amongst others. And his attempt to match wits with them left them in initial distraught at the studio, specifically Bizzy Bone who opens his verse by referencing what he was doing as he was trying to rewrite the verse. BIG has been a part of many posse cuts, like the infamous “Flava In Your Ear,” and “All About The Benjamins,” but this lead effort trumps those in production and delivery.
Eminem is not one to mince words with a posse on his tracks, and most times his posse cuts have hit the fan with a bunch shit. But there are the very rare ones that have Eminem bringing a solid squad on a track that has nothing to do with any meandering subtexts, like relationships. But Eminem has always shown tenacity for greatness when he isn’t curating. Though, a part of me believes that he didn’t fully curate it, “Bitch Please 2,” does what others don’t demonstrate – togetherness. The three rappers show that they have his back, by spitting verbiage that indicates one shouldn’t fuck with them.
POPPIN TAGS – JAY-Z FT. BIG BOI, TWISTA, & KILLER MIKE
What makes this pop out over some of the other Jay-Z lead posse cuts?
The production has a smooth blend of jazz flute, speedy hi-hats, and spaced snares that beautifully boasts each rappers’ respective flows. It is a solid representation on how to make a proper money-centric braggadocio hip-hop; from the way each rapper delivers their lines to the cadence in their verses, it makes it a whirly-fun experience to listen to.
JOHN BLAZE – FAT JOE FT. NAS, BIG PUN, JADAKISS, RAEKWON
“John Blaze” is the essence of 90s New York when it comes to posse cuts. Using unique production styles equivalent to the sonic percussion reminiscent of the DJ scratches from summer block parties and distorted-stagnant horns bring it to life, as Fat Joe and featured rappers flex their hustle to the nines, with masterful flows and lyricism.
SWAGGA LIKE US – T.I. & JAY-Z FT. KANYE WEST & LIL WAYNE
Nothing has matched the swagoo of these four rappers giving us a perplexing idea of what swag is and exponentially raising the bar, like Kanye raps “swag on 100, 1000, trillion.” It could be why I haven’t mastered dances like the dougie or cat daddy, and I constantly live in anguish about how much cooler I’d be if I did, but I digress. The production high octane is boosted by the audaciously vibrant sample from MIA’s “Paper Plane.” And this track has an extra padded boost from the live performance they did at the Grammys. Unfortunately that video is hard to find.
NOT TONIGHT (LADIES NIGHT REMIX) – LIL KIM FT. MISSY ELLIOT, DA BRAT, LEFT EYE, & ANGIE MARTINEZ
There aren’t many times a posse cut is dominated by a plethora of female rappers, but when you come across one there is rarely a disappointment to be had. “Not Tonight (Ladies Night Remix)” takes it up a notch by giving fuck-boys the finger and flexing their collective empowerment over a male dominated genre. Everyone delivers at top notch levels. It’s also one of the few appearances of New York radio legend and Radio Hall of Famer, Angie Martinez on a power-track that went further than her albums, in terms of popularity. So if you were ever curious, but not as ambitious this is the go to for a verse from Angie Martinez.
“Not Tonight (Ladies Night Remix)” is one of the more successful – single posse cuts, hitting number 6 in the Hot 100 Charts, and the lush and accessible production helped. It takes cues from that New York – boom bap percussion, with an overlay of a smooth soul-like chorus and space-laser sounding electronic sounds as the icing on the cake.
The Reggaeton/Urban Latino genre has had the shift in delivery in line with hip-hop’s growing popularity of the melodic flow. Beneath this popular trend are rappers who break away from standard pop/reggaeton contrivances, like Myke Towers and Jon Z, opposed to artists like Rauw Alejandro and Ozuna. And as such, when they release a new project, it usually carries with it, an array of dope rhyme schemes and lyricism. This is the prominent direction of aforementioned artist, Myke Towers, who delivers with virtuoso on his newly gritty-street influenced album Lyke Myke. His uncanny use of reggaeton – sonic undertones, like the electronic infused percussion patterns, take a backseat, as Myke goes in tangent with production reminiscent to the hip-hop he grew up with, but also carrying with it some slight repetition and filler.
With some of the hip-hop/urban music we hear today, there are moments of redundancy in the percussion, which come off as tried – other times it flows with the overlays and the delivery of the rapper that it becomes second nature and you’re more focused on the lyricism and message, opposed to a vibrant instrumental. The production’s array of eclectic overtures has a great consistency in the way it sets up the tone for his more aggressive flows and rhythm. Some of these overtures include an array of defined – gritty notes from the instruments, which are used in different sequences like the high-key piano notes and electronic hi-hats.
However, some of the production has a repetitive nature that derives from wrought similarities within the snares and bass drum patterns. But it isn’t as much of a constant as the direct-filler tracks, like “BURBERRY” and “JUGADOR FRANQUICIA,” which distinguishes themselves from part of the whole. What differentiates these two is the contrast between what works and what doesn’t, instrumentally. The latter has solid flows and lyricism, while the instrumental stays dormant as a somber backdrop. The former has a monstrously eventful instrumental that gets lost in some poor metaphors and analogies from both artists, who frequently evoke the spirit of Nas and the lifestyle from the film Belly. The problematic and cheap film aside; it overstays its welcome as a deterrent from the rest of Lyke Myke. This comes from what they mention in their verses – specifically Ñengo Flow – about their life’s conjunction with the lives of the characters from the aforementioned film. If this were the case, then a concert of his would be more problematic than an YG concert at the heart of Long Beach. But beneath these problems, the song has solid replay value, even if it feels like it doesn’t belong.
Myke Towers’ punctilious approach to his style of trap and rap flows keeps his sound leveled for proper thought consumption, opposed to party-like from others. This is what constantly translates well on the surface, but beneath there are tracks that continue to express itself as lost filler, like “BAGUETTES” which oozes “club banger,” but it doesn’t feel like it should have been part of the album or even as a bonus track. It exceeds the initial eye test, which is judging the pacing from the elongated track list that caps at 23 tracks and one hour – five minutes in runtime. They fluctuate in length, which messes with the pacing. This is what makes most of the percussion come off as repetitive, but lyrically and conceptually, Myke Towers keeps Lyke Myke on a steady track of fluidity. He doesn’t let the production create a void that lacks substance, lyrically, and this strength of Myke, allows him to fully invest in furthering the identity of his artistry and his person, which is a deviation from his last album that had more commercial appeal.
However, the minimal attempts at being different usually end up faltering into mundane club ready tracks (sonically), which loses focus on the strengths of the album – the emotional depth and grit of the tracks that dive deep into his personal roots. But because of his chameleon-like ability with his flow – evident from his appearances on more reggaeton and electronic like production – there continuous showmanship in his prominence as one of the better and more versatile rappers of the Spanish language. This continues within some of the unique deliveries and samples on Lyke Myke, like on the track “PIN PIN,” which samples “Periquito Pin Pin” by Tommy Olivencia and his orchestra, also alongside vocalist Héctor Tricoche. Beneath the lush instrumental, Myke comes with an onslaught of aggressive and smartly structured-multi syllabic rhythms, which can be hard based on the varying and accented pronunciations.
This goes to show how he lets the lyricism soar, even within the filler tracks. And though Lyke Myke has an array of unnecessary filler, the tracks are solid, in their own right, and definitely carry enough replay value. It had me going back to breakdown some of the beautiful overtures in the production and the complex verbiage from Myke Towers. It’s the biggest net-positive for the album and rightfully so. It is so rare to find solid Spanish rap that rely on “pop” trends for an outworld sense of connectivity. He has a niche and builds upon it like other rappers have done – i.e. spreading into pop – centric tracks to build a presence and deliver what he wants to, which is akin to a career path Kendrick Lamar and others had at the beginning of their career.
Lyke Myke is a collection of great rap tracks that build upon his mystique and his artistry that is on a path to being one of the more memorable albums in his repertoire. In a way, it is reminiscent of the stylistic direction behind The Documentary by The Game, even if it isn’t as profound as the classic album. The gritty street – style gives this more definition than his last album, Easy Money Baby, while staying on its own isolated path toward greatness.