Bad Bunny Takes a Sledgehammer to the Pop Paradigm on Debut Album 'X100PRE'

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Every week earlier than he dropped left his followers just a little gem of a video on Instagram. In a spectacularly bizarre, fast-moving sequence of fast clips, the Puerto Rican entice rebel fiddles with a Stone Cold Steve Austin Christmas decoration, information somebody’s ass trembling mid-twerk, and finally seems shirtless along with his tongue out, sporting nothing however glitzy vacation beads and completely manicured black nails — unabashedly femme and festive. “Stone Cold cube que estas navidades son de PERREO,” the video caption reads, and whereas the publish had been printed to advertise his latest collaboration with Wisin y Yandel, “Dame Algo,” it was a touch that Bad Bunny was about to steal Christmas within the wildest approach.

Bad Bunny’s debut album X100PRE fell splat into the world at midnight on December 24, catching followers and little bit of the music business off guard. This had been some of the anticipated initiatives of 2018, and the drop become a full Nochebuena occasion — one which stole even Baby Jesus’ thunder. But Bad Bunny upending a whole vacation is hardly a shock. The rapper with a penchant for the unpredictable has turned risk-taking right into a form of sport, which could clarify why X100PRE feels like he’s taking a sledgehammer to the pop paradigm over and over.

The bombshell debut comes virtually two years after the 24-year-old moved from SoundCloud to DJ Luian’s Hear This Music imprint to the worldwide stage. In this brief time, he has grow to be considered one of music’s most in-demand artists, collaborating with superstars like Cardi B, J.Lo, and Will Smith, all whereas extending Spanish-language music’s endurance within the mainstream. His mission has been to maintain everybody guessing with an unstoppable string of singles and options, and the one factor that he assured was that if and when he did make an album, it will be as uncommon and rebellious as his profession to date.

Bad Bunny Takes a Sledgehammer to the Pop Paradigm on Debut Album 'X100PRE'

Bad Bunny. Photo by Itzel Alejandra Martinez for Remezcla

X100PRE makes good on that promise. Produced largely by reggaeton vanguard Tainy, the album is loaded with sonic spams and creative switch-ups that erupt into fireworks at any given blink. Acoustic trills kick in simply seconds earlier than Bad Bunny’s signature baritone on the opener “Ni Bien Ni Mal,” after which a lurching beat paves the way in which for strings and metal drum samples that slide the track into prettier and extra melodic territory than customary entice fare. About 9 minutes later, the undercurrent of an acerbic guitar makes an entrance, and it’s Bad Bunny as emo king, wailing out the refrain to the pop-punk-tinged “Tenemos Que Hablar” — one of many venture’s many peaks.

The album boasts many extra surprises. He goes electro-pop lothario on “Otra Noche En Miami” and old-school reggaeton on “Cuando Perriabas,” a monitor that samples Plan B’s “Bellaqueo.” The main pop co-signs are there from huge names in each the English- and Spanish-language worlds: Diplo is on “200 MPH” and a hidden Ricky Martin function on “Caro.” The already large collaboration “MIA” with Drake surfaces towards the tip of the album, virtually an afterthought in a compilation of already efficient songs. But the centerpiece of X100PRE could be “La Romana,” which begins off with the twang of a bachata guitar that opens the ground for Bad Bunny and Dominican dembow star El Alfa’s verses. Trapchata would have been radical sufficient on a Bad Bunny file; El Conejo Malo and producers Tainy and Chael determine to stretch the bounds ever farther. The file skips, revealing an unadulterated dembow beat that turns the track into an progressive sampling of style experiments. Moments like this make X100PRE really feel like a topographic map of all the pieces Bad Bunny can do, and all of the locations he would possibly go to subsequent.

All of the groundbreaking selection is tied collectively by Bad Bunny’s inimitable voice, charisma, and skill to mix depth and irreverence. In a deep-dive Remezcla  about Bad Bunny final 12 months, Apple Music’s Jerry Pulles identified the malleability of the rapper’s rhymes, and the way his lyrics typically jostle from comedy to bravado to heartbreak. Here, he doesn’t skimp on the lighthearted wordplay and tongue-in-cheek antics which have earned him a fame as a carefree form of prankster (“Tú robando en Macy’s y yo en el desfile,” a line on “¿Quién Tú Eres?” that references his , could be considered one of his funniest burns on the album). But X100PRE additionally tackles headier subject material, like home violence on “Solo De Mí” and Puerto Rican resilience on “Estamos Bien.” This is a particularity that could be lacking for anybody who doesn’t communicate Spanish, but it’s a major marker of versatility and an ignored cause that explains why Bad Bunny has related with Puerto Ricans first, and finally different Latino listeners.

Bad Bunny Takes a Sledgehammer to the Pop Paradigm on Debut Album 'X100PRE'

Bad Bunny attends the 2018 Billboard Latin Music Awards. Photo by Isaac Brekken/Getty Images

He additionally repeatedly delves into his emotional state, providing extra vulnerability than we’ve beforehand seen from him. Songs like “Como Antes” are forlorn and front-loaded with emotions, they usually’ve already drawn inevitable comparisons to Drake at his weepiest. Although the Canadian star stands out as the main inspiration Anglo audiences hear, there’s one thing myopic about assuming Latino artist is taking inspiration primarily from the English-language mainstream. Bad Bunny shared in a recent interview with NPR’s Alt. Latino that he grew up singing alongside to Juan Gabriel along with his mother on cleansing days, and he’s made his love of Héctor Lavoe clear in smoky tribute videos. History’s nice salseros and Latin American balladeers play a job when Bad Bunny will get mushy and mawkish, as do the 90s pop traditions that he nods to through the album’s Ricky Martin cameo and features like, “El pasado no vira/La forma en que me miras/Las canciones de Shakira.” His vary of influences are a testomony to the broadly expansive palette bicultural youngsters construct up over time, and the broad references assist foster X100PRE’s spectacular multi-dimensionality.

And whereas diehard followers have been anticipating X100PRE for years, the album boasts a spontaneous high quality, like Bad Bunny rolled out of a heart-shaped waterbed, slapped the ultimate stamp on the discharge, after which dove again right into a luxe Gucci-themed dream. He truly revealed to Billboard that he accomplished the six-month venture simply days earlier than it got here out. “Real, actual, actual, actual, I completed the album three days in the past,” he stated from his house in Puerto Rico. The novelty of all of it makes for a compendium that’s sharp, contemporary, and forward of the curve.

This can be simply Bad Bunny as we’ve all the time identified him. Since he got here onto the scene, the rapper has dismantled business frameworks like low cost IKEA furnishings, breaking issues aside effortlessly amid his ascent towards barrier-breaking stardom. Particularly in Latino markets that prioritize palatable artists and dependable hits, he’s been a fearless exception — somebody who has received the liberty to train a dexterity granted to only a few. Undoubtedly, a set of privileges have been afforded to him as a white Latino in genres created by African-Americans and black Latino artists, and he’s used each benefit to flip the script on trend, musical genres, and even album cycles. Because he might leverage that non-conformist angle and the sense of freaky-deaky individuality, Bad Bunny opened a door that many Latino acts, who’re so typically pigeonholed to a selected nook of the music world and relegated to slender sounds for consumption, can hardly ever unlock. X100PRE arrives after he broke into the gates of the best international pop order and snapped a selfie of himself having fun with the summit that eluded so many.

Bad Bunny’s X100PRE is out now.