Backstage With Daddy Yankee at the 2015 Billboard Latin Music Awards

Daddy Yankee

Mention the name Daddy Yankee to anyone in the Latin music industry and they’ll automatically think of the words legend, icon, or leader. Credited with making reggaeton a global phenomenon in 2004 with his hit “Gasolina,” the Puerto Rican superstar has more top 10s on the Latin Rhythm Airplay chart than any other artist (30) and more No. 1s on Top Latin Albums than any other urban act (6). It’s no wonder his peers — both established and emerging acts — constantly cite him as a source of inspiration.

When he’s not recording hits in the studio, Yankee is known for bringing the heat to any performance. The 2015 Billboard Latin Music Awards — which aired on Telemundo on April 30 from the BankUnited Center in Miami — were no exception, as Yankee took the stage twice. First, to perform his hot new single “Sígueme y Te Sigo” as a worldwide television premiere, and then with Carlos Vives and Wisin for “Nota de Amor,” an irresistible marriage of Colombian vallenato and reggaeton that’s as much about love as it is about dancing.

Billboard went behind the scenes with the man they call “The Big Boss” to witness what it takes to put together a world-class show on Latin music’s biggest night.

“I wanted to show the fans how hard it is to put a show together,” Yankee told Billboard during rehearsals, as the camera crew followed him closely. “When you see the place packed with people, it gives you a different sensation, that feeling — I don’t know how to describe it, it’s something magical.”

Before hitting the stage at any show, Yankee takes a moment to focus. “I’m in my zone right now,” he told us minutes before taking the stage. “For some reason it reminds me of when I used to be an amateur fighter in Puerto Rico. Every time that I had a fight I was concentrated like this. This is my big event tonight. I’m focused when I step into the ring, which is my stage, and I’m going to turn it into my house.”

Get an inside look at the makings of a legendary performance, Daddy Yankee-style, here.

P.S. It’s pretty crazy to think that 10 years ago, I interviewed Yankee at the very same conference, in the same city, and same hotel. How time flies…

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