NEW YORK - Daddy Yankee feels streaming his music online has finally revealed a hidden reality about Latin artists' popularity.
The reggaeton icon, who this week reached the No. 4 spot in Billboard's Hot 100 with a new version of his and Luis Fonsi's megahit "Despacito'' featuring Justin Bieber, also saw it land on Spotify's No. 12 global hits and No. 2 on its Viral 50 chart, above songs by Rihanna, Lady Gaga and Bieber.
"I really feel very blessed to see what has happened. It is incredible. 'Despacito' is a worldwide phenomenon,'' Daddy Yankee told The Associated Press in a recent interview. "I think streaming has had a lot to do with us being in the same arena as any mainstream American artist and I think that we have an audience that is global. We simply couldn't register it before with numbers.''
On YouTube, the song's original video has more than 1.2 billion views since its January release. Daddy Yankee's video of "Shaky Shaky'' has more than 960 million views.
The singer said international platforms like Spotify and YouTube have helped to put things into perspective.
"It's what I've been saying for years, long before this happened, that we are being heard globally,'' he said. "It's a good thing that we are appearing in these lists, but if we don't, it doesn't mean that we are not at the same level of popularity as any artist in the American lists because our streaming numbers are occasionally bigger than theirs.''
More than a decade after his best-selling album "Barrio fino,'' and the single "Gasolina'' that made him a global star, the Latin Grammy Award-winner is still one of the most influential and recognizable names in reggaeton.
"Throughout the years, Daddy Yankee has known how to decipher what is needed to make a hit, and he constantly achieves it. Last year he did it with 'Shaky Shaky' and with 'Despacito' he gives that extra push to a great song,'' said Leila Cobo, Billboard's executive director of content and programming for Latin music. "Yankee keeps himself updated on all the music trends, and is also a master when it comes to promotion and marketing, both traditional and digital.''
Success is something that Daddy Yankee attributes to his passion for music and to constantly looking for a bigger challenge.
"That's what I do, is what amuses me, to always challenge myself and create a song that's better than the last one,'' he said.