It's unfortunate that Daddy Yankee is the poster boy for reggaeton in this country. It's even more unfortunate that he took this album as an opportunity to declare himself the Big Boss (of reggaeton, one would presume), mainly because the shortcomings of El Cartel: The Big Boss wouldn't be as evident if not for such arrogance. He begins the album by saying (without a trace of sarcasm), "You know that I'm needed/You felt a void without me/There's only one!" Yeah. Okay, Daddy. Then there's the chorus, which is simply, "The king is back. " In "En sus marcas, listo, fuera" ("On your mark, get set, go"), Yankee goes back to his bread and butter: high-energy reggaeton with references to street racing.
It's easily the best track, but it's no high-octane "Gasolina." The tune "Cambio" is second to board the lifeboat on this sinking album, which should have been called El Titanic. "Ella me levantó," which is effective in conjuring a merengue hook and mambo, and "Fuera de control" are salvageable, but their ultra radio-friendly attitude makes them indistinguishable from most reggaeton already on the air. After that, El Cartel hits the wall.
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If not for the guest appearances (Akon, Nicole the Pussycat Doll, will.i.am, Hector "El Father," and Fergie), the rest of the tracks could easily be mistaken for one excruciatingly long ode to lackluster lyrics and lackadaisical rhymes.