Back in 2009, Daddy Yankee and Don Omar shocked the world by appearing onstage together in Puerto Rico and again at the Billboard Latin Music Awards red carpet, marking an end to their years-long beef. The idea of a joint tour was something big-money offerers could only dream about. That is, until now.
“The Kingdom” is a 60-date Yankee/Omar tour scheduled to run for two years, and kicks off Dec. 5 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The unprecedented partnership also includes a joint album and TV show for the two artists. Between them, Yankee (né Raymón Ayala) and Omar (né William Landrón) have 11 No. 1 hits on Billboard’s Latin Albums chart, 28 top 10 hits on Hot Latin Songs, over 50 million followers on Facebook and Twitter alone, and have sold more than 5 million albums in the United States, according to Nielsen Music. “If this were the mainstream market, it’d be like putting together Rihanna and Beyoncé,” attorney Edwin Prado told Billboard.
So, what exactly inspired this grand gesture?
“I was motivated by doing something completely different — and by the size of the offer,” Yankee said. “This is a sport, and I like to be the best athlete.” Omar shared the same sentiments, but reiterated them with a sharper tongue. “Let me clarify: I am not his best friend, and he is not my best friend. But we respect each other. That desire to be the best is what has pushed us to be better.”
The tour is themed around a boxing match, where the two artists get to trade off musical sets (think rounds), and fans vote for their winner in each city via an app designed for the event. “Two kings, one throne,” said music veteran and Pina Records founder Rafael Pina, who has a well-established relationship with both artists and who initiated conversations between them. He also came up with this genius concept.
The two Puerto Rican superstars recorded together late last year for Don Omar’s The Last Don 2 LP (released in June) and today welcome the competition that comes with this sort of collaboration. “There’s a professional rivalry, and we’re both going to show our best,” says Omar. “It’s stressful, and I love it.”