DADDY YANKEE | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Puerto Rican reggaeton star Daddy Yankee made his name weaving gangsta iconography into street-smart Spanish raps, and he's rarely strayed far from that formula. On the recent El Cartel: The Big Boss (El Cartel/Interscope), though, he does his best to reach across the language barrier. Yankee's famous enough at this point to attract major American producers like Scott Storch and Will.i.am, and he mixes things up with more bilingual rhymes and more cameos by hip-hop and R & B stars. But while El Cartel has a few straight-up descents into hip-hop, not to mention a de rigueur appearance from soul singer Akon, the galloping reggaeton beat still leads the way. I can imagine quite a few of these songs crossing over the way "Gasolina" did in 2004, but it remains to be seen if Yankee will stick with English-speaking audiences. If he doesn't, El Cartel may be considered a failure; I just wish more "failures" were this good. Outbreak opens. a 8 PM, Allstate Arena, 6920 Mannheim, Rosemont, 847-635-6601 or 312-559-1212, $45-$85. A --Peter Margasak

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