So yesterday was dope. I’m not even talking about Thanksgiving for real, cuz Bad Bunny just dropped his third album of the year. And lemme tell you … it goes HARD.
For Puerto Rican pop star Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio (Bad Bunny), 2020 has been a big year. And like Macho Camacho, the brazy Boricua keeps the hits coming. Starting off with YHLQMDLG (Yo Hago Lo Que Me Da La Gana, “I Do Whatever I Want”) on Leap Day, and then Las Que No Iban A Salir (The Ones That Weren’t Going to Be Released) in May, to EL ÚLTIMO TOUR DEL MUNDO (The Last World Tour). He shoots with sniper precision.
This album further elaborates on the consistent evolution of each release. With every new album, Bad Bunny grows and matures, embracing elements he had previously avoided, and transforming from a young trap star to an introspective lyricist.
So I’m gonna break it down for y’all. Song by song, let’s go.
EL MUNDO ES MÍO
This is how you start an album. The slowness, the power in the control and moderation. A beat can be a wild bull. But in this case, Bad Bunny grabs it by the horns and forces it to obey. Listening to this song, ya sabes que el mundo es tuyo (ey ey ey ey ey).
Calm down so we can build it back up. Reminiscent of the middle part of YHLQMDLG, specifically Vete, this softer ballad makes you feel like you’re driving along the waterfront on a summer sunset. It even recalls feelings elicited by Fun.’s Some Nights (I just listened to that album the other day for the first time since 2012. Write-up coming soon) and Kanye’s 2010 masterpiece MBDTF.
Already know this one’s going on the workout mix for real. Nothing but hard-driving reguetón/trap beats and flow.
A melodic lament about goddamned poverty, Bad Bunny will evoke emotions from you if you let him. Something to sing along to, or just to soak in, this song is powerfully put-together and you can’t help but shake your ass listening to it.
LA NOCHE DE ANOCHE
Bad Bunny and ROSALÍA go back and forth with a fabulous dynamic. The song takes its time, and for that reason I don’t think as many people will appreciate it. But that’s part of what makes it so good.
TE DESEO LO MEJOR
This one borders on alternative, but just when you think that’s all there is to it, he takes it back … or adds more on. It’s frustratingly well done. Every element is calculated to fit together like a puzzle to serve the purpose of the song. And it is the perfect segue to …
YO VISTO ASÍ
With his earlier release of YHLQMDLG, Hablamos Mañana was the perfect penultimate song, exploding with a finale of rock-and-roll energy. In a subsequent interview with Apple Music, El Conejito Malo alluded to the possibility of releasing more rock music. Following Anuel AA’s new album Emmanuel (also a banger-and-a-half) in which Anuel featured Blink 182 drummer Travis Barker on a song, the stage was perfectly set for this one. Bad Bunny balances Rock and Reguetón in a masterful way, drawing influence from Shakira’s older work such as Dónde Están los Ladrones (y’all know I’m a big Shakira fan) and the grunge that influenced it. As a younger musician growing up in Seattle, I cut my teeth on Soundgarden and Alice In Chains. This song definitely gives a nod melodically towards Nirvana, as well as Dave Grohl’s hard, yet controlled, drumming style. You can head-bang, you can twirl your partner, or just throw it back if you feel it (after all, Yo Perreo Solo). Y’all gotta check this one out.
HACIENDO QUE ME AMAS
In a calculated stroke of that YHLQMDLG I-do-what-I-want Bad Bunny energy, he takes all the big hype from the last song back into a slow buildup ballad. It’s like downshifting on a bike: lower gear goes slower; but the slower the buildup, the more powerful it becomes.
Another banger for the workout mix. Aggressive energy, take what you want cuz it’s all there. This is the song we toss around next time we play Hot Potato, cuz you don’t want to hold it too long or you’ll get burned.
This song is all about balance. The balance between energies. Between softness and hardness. It reminds me of the slime we made in elementary school: soft to a touch, hard to a punch. A masterful buildup drawing from more ’90s alternative rock influences, it contributes to the excellent flow of the album, exploding in a cloud of sabor, gone as quickly as it came.
Get ready. An acoustic instrumentally-driven Beatlesesque ballad with the airs of Oasis and Radiohead, its haunting chords and melody elicit emotions difficult to describe. It draws from influences old and new, combining them into an intergenerational stew that would give both abuelita and mee maw a run for their money. Listen to it.
Ok, this one’s fun – for real. Drawing on those late-’80s early-’90s alternative energy, even bordering on the Soviet Sound at times, it would not be out of place in a fancy mall, while somehow still keeping the energy and grabbing your ear.
A library of emotions (¡FOC YU!). And the best part is, you can decide what those emotions are. This makes it a very versatile song for any playlist. It fits like the perfect puzzle piece. Take a listen, you’ll see what I mean.
ANTES QUE SE ACABE
During quarantine, I’ve binge-watched a lot of shows, including all of the Top Chef shows (you already know I whip it in the kitchen). One of the Top Chef shows was Top Chef: Just Desserts. This song is pretty. Delicate. It reminds me of the competitors on Top Chef: Just Desserts meticulously creating every detail for a sweet and beautiful product. It hugs you in a pillow of sound and vibes, but you can float on a cloud of this song. The sensitive Lo-Fi indie energy balances the more aggressive side of the album.
CANTARES DE NAVIDAD
In true Bad Bunny fashion, he had to throw you for a loop. An old Caribbean trio playing a Christmas folk song to finish the latest album from the world’s biggest reguetón/trap artist. But if you are paying attention to the energy, rather than the sound, it is one of the most appropriate choices he could have gone with. It completes the evolution of the album.
This album is very diverse, in both sounds and energy. And yet it flowed very well. A great listening experience made of very strong individual pieces. It is ambitious, bold, brave, and yet very calculated. The evolution and maturity, the album comes from a more instrumentally driven place than his previous works. The production is incredible. This is one of the best albums of 2020, and if it wasn’t already obvious, this would cement Bad Bunny as the best mainstream artist of 2020 in my opinion.
Now let’s talk about Conejo. With an album title that translates to “the last world tour,” being advertised by Bad Bunny on Instagram with a cryptic video in which he announces retirement at a fake press conference, mysterious foreshadowing lyrics from YHLQMDLG begin to fall into place. Is Bad Bunny retiring from music? Fans take to social media to discuss.
I personally doubt he will retire for good. My own theory is that in line with his evolution, he is going to go into hiding for a short while, commercially speaking. He will resurface with a new persona, a new name and brand, perhaps something more mature (my favorite theory is his new persona will simply be “Benito”), and continue making music. And thus, the metamorphosis will be primed for further expansion.
But at this point, only time will tell.
Go listen to the album, let me know what you think. I’ll be back, and hopefully so will Benito.
Como dijera Bad Bunny: “Ciao, Hablamos Mañana.”