Playero was a key figure in the dissemination of reggaeton during its formative period in the 1990s in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Generally billed as Playero DJ, though perhaps best known as DJ Playero, he was above all a mixtape purveyor. Beginning in the early '90s, he produced a series of mixtapes that synthesized hip-hop and reggae rhythms with Spanish-language freestyling (i.e., on-the-spot MCing, toasting, rapping, singing, etc.). These tapes circulated around the barrios of San Juan and were highly influential upon the generation that would go on to define reggaeton in the coming decade. For instance, Daddy Yankee got his start with Playero, debuting on Playero, Vol. 37, which was recorded in a small studio in one of Puerto Rico's caseríos (i.e., housing projects) and was originally released in 1992. Playero was an aspiring producer at the time, with credits including work on the seminal compilation Dancehall Reggaespañol (1991, Columbia Records), in addition to production work with 3-2 Get Funky (3-2 Get Funky, 1993; Return of the Funky Ones, 1994), Ranking Stone (Different Styles, 1995), Wiso G (Estoy Aqui, 1996), and Wendellman (Wendellman, 1996). During the late '90s, as the proto-reggaeton style began to grow popular thanks to the Noise, a club-based collective (DJ Negro, DJ Nelson, Tony Touch, Ivy Queen, Baby Rasta & Gringo, et al.) that issued a long-running series of CDs, Playero began reissuing his old mixtapes from the early to mid-'90s. He also recorded new ones, issuing them via BM Records as well. Playero en DVD: Su Trayectoria (2003) was the culmination of this activity, aiming to cement his legacy as one of the key reggaeton pioneers. ~ Jason Birchmeier

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