Bad Bunny’s new album begins with a tone similar to the one Residente struck in René, the stark confession in song form the Puerto Rican rapper released just before the pandemic. During the first song, called Nadie sabe, Bad Bunny — the global pop star who has managed to place Spanish-language music at the forefront of the industry — spends 6:19 minutes sharing his confessions about the other side of fame, the one his fans don’t see. He sings, in Spanish of course: “Feeling alone with a hundred thousand people in front of you / That everyone talks about you without knowing dick, without knowing you / And they even wish you dead.” It’s a song with piano, violins and orchestral arrangements where, more than rapping, Bad Bunny speaks to whoever wants to listen.
“I haven’t seen my therapist in a while / Maybe that’s why my mind is cross-eyed / This album is not meant to have a million listens / It’s to make my real fans happy, even though I don’t feel 100% inside / It’s to make them cancel me and hate me,” he goes on. It is the opening track of Nadie sabe lo que va a pasar mañana — or, No one knows what will happen tomorrow —, Bad Bunny’s newest project, available on all platforms from Friday midnight, Puerto Rico local time. The album features 22 songs, and collaborations with artists such as Arcángel, Bryant Myers, De La Ghetto and Eladio Carrión. The one hour and 21 minutes of music has been produced by, Tainy, MAG and La Paciencia, among others.
The fifth album by Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio is a shock to the system — an album far from reggaeton and commercial parameters. In a way, it is a return to his origins, to trap, to hip hop; also to experimentation, with electronic sonic frameworks. It’s sprinkled with dozens of messages, for his rivals, ex-partners, and with a lot of vindication of what he understands as authentic: a star from humble origins enjoying his wealth. He also, of course, incorporates those sexual lyrics so characteristic of his discography (albeit this time without the perreo) and even a wink to Shakira in the song Los Pits, where he says: “Now men cry, yes, but they keep making money.”
The artist had already warned that this would be his most personal album: “Now more than ever I feel more confident talking about what I think, what I feel and how I live it through my music.” Having said that, it’s understandable that on the album’s cover he signs as “Bad Bunny / Benito.” The spotlight thus falls on Benito, the man born 29 years ago in Veja Baja, a small municipality in northern Puerto Rico, third son (the eldest) of a teacher and a truck driver.
Among so much music there are truly stellar moments, such as Baticano (the word “Vaticano,” or Vatican, written with a B), a song in which he spends 4:16 minutes denouncing hypocrisy in the name of God and in relation to sex: “No man on earth has the right to judge in the name of Christ… I kiss Villano, I kiss Tokischa [the singers Villano Antillano and Tokischa] and whoever doesn’t like it’s because he’s not fucking… My God, forgive me, because once again I sinned… but I didn’t invent sex or marijuana.” There is little reggaeton on the album, just two songs: Perro negro and Un preview.
The whole process of the album’s release shows that Bad Bunny is not into the old industry ways. The Puerto Rican has moved on from announcing his releases months in advance and doesn’t spend the days leading up to them in grueling interview sessions answering the same questions. The Latin star lets his fans know about the release of his new albums a few days in advance (four, in this case) and uses a closed communication network: lately, he’s using WhatsApp, where he has over 16 million followers. And he seems to be doing well — he has the industry eating out of his hand. In 2022, he raked in more listens on digital platforms than Taylor Swift or Beyoncé, he starred in the highest-grossing tour in the history of a Latin artist and his album Un verano sin ti crowned urban music as the most listened genre worldwide. What else? Oh, yes, he’s also dating a Kardashian, model Kendall Jenner.
Bunny also tends to change his mind with some regularity. Either that, or he plays a game of misdirection. In 2022, he said that 2023 would be his year off, but there’s been no trace of that. In April, he became the first Latin singer to headline the Coachella festival in California, and now he’s released his fifth album.
The number of songs (22) on Nadie sabe lo que va a pasar mañana is nothing new, as the Puerto Rican is always generous in his works: x100pre (2018), his debut, has 15 songs (54 minutes); YHLQMDLG (2020), 20 songs (65 minutes); El último tour del mundo (2020), 16 songs (47 minutes), and Un verano sin ti (2022), 23 songs (81 minutes).
All the songs in the new album are again sung in Spanish, avoiding the capital language in pop, English, which is now threatened by the Latin hurricane. “I feel in Spanish, I think in Spanish, I eat in Spanish, I sing in Spanish,” said Benito, who from the beginning has made it clear that he’s not willing to compromise his identity. He does not consider himself a social agitator, but he’s also very socially conscious and vocal. Let’s not forget El apagón, a song included in his last album, in which he denounces corruption in his home country and the constant power outages on the island — and in many other Latin American countries. In 2019, he was also one of the most vocal artists in calling for the resignation of the governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Roselló, accused of corruption, among other things. The image of him, Residente and Ricky Martin in the streets of San Juan leading a march against Roselló, who eventually resigned, is historic.
The album closes with the reggaeton track Un preview. The song starts with a message from the singer: “Come here, I’m going to play something for you, to give you a preview of what’s coming next.” This preview placed right at the end seems to be a message that a reggaeton album will be coming in the next months. Before that, though, we’ll have to see if this album is as much of a hit as the previous ones.
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