The identical boy from the “La Difícil” video punctuates the visuals for YHLQMDLG, and takes middle stage on the album’s supernatural cowl. The boy appears to characterize a younger Benito, although he tells me that’s not fairly proper. Relatively, he could possibly be just about any child in the USA or Latin America in 1999: His dad and mom struggle, and he spends his days in his bed room taking part in Nintendo 64 and listening to cassettes of his favourite artist: Unhealthy Bunny. Within the video for the one “Ignorantes,” the boy shaves his head to appear to be his hero, uncovers a 3rd eye on his brow, and, all of a sudden, he can see a greater future.
“That is the album I’d have wished to make once I was 15,” Benito tells me. He thinks reggaetón as a style is peaking commercially proper now, however not essentially creatively. “It grew to become so pop—so pop,” he says, referencing forays by Colombian pop stars Shakira and Carlos Vives, and Mexican boy band Reik.
He attributes this dilution as one of many causes urbano—the catch-all for reggaetón, entice, dembow, and different trendy Latin genres—was snubbed on the 2019 Latin Grammys, a transfer pushed by long-standing trade classism and racism that he protested onstage. But a part of him understood: “Reggaetón has misplaced itself a bit.”
A undertaking like YHLQMDLG necessitated a sobering look to his heros. In Benito’s e book, Daddy Yankee, Nicky Jam, Wisin & Yandel, and all the remainder are nonetheless the masters of the style, however he factors out that after they reached most pop visibility within the Latin trade, they largely deserted reggaetón’s native sound and drive. (And that doesn’t even bear in mind the lengthy erasure of reggaetón’s Afro-Panamanian roots previous to its increase in Puerto Rico, or the affect of dancehall and dembow throughout the Caribbean on urbano writ giant.)
He’s even made purple caps as a part of his merch that learn “MAKE REGGAETÓN GREAT AGAIN,” although he hasn’t dared to put on one but. He desires to be particularly cautious about how he introduces it, given the hat’s Trumpist baggage. To be clear, he’s no fan of the present administration. In 2018, he started a Tonight Present efficiency with a somber call-out referencing the tragic federal response to Hurricane Maria, saying, “Greater than 3,000 individuals died, and Trump’s nonetheless in denial.”
Throughout the brand new album’s bold 20 tracks, Benito delivers a grasp class in Puerto Rican reggaetón, with visitor lectures from its giants and cult figures. One among his favourite tracks is “Safaera,” an deliberately over-the-top homage to horniness that includes reggaetón forefathers Ñengo Circulate and Jowell & Randy, and produced by hitmaker Tainy alongside Benito’s outdated pal DJ Orma. The track is pure mixeo, continually switching tempos and beats whereas mixing in samples used on songs like Missy Elliott’s “Get Ur Freak On” to make the prevailing observe that rather more perreo-friendly, as was the type at golf equipment and marquesinas all through the mid-aughts. The mesmerizing spotlight “Bichiyal” enlists Yaviah, a legendary reggaetónero who launched a valuable handful of songs within the mid-’90s and the last decade thereafter earlier than withdrawing from public life; Benito coaxed him again out into the sunshine.
On “Yo Perreo Sola,” Benito foregrounds the long-relegated function of the feminine background singer on a observe solely about independence and consent in perreo, simply one of many matters that has earned him reward for difficult urbano’s machismo on earlier tracks and movies just like the anti-domestic-violence “Solo de Mí” and the gender-bending “Caro.” The voice belongs to Génesis Ríos, recognized on YouTube as Nesi, who has been extensively unknown till now. “Tranqui, yo perreo sola (Chill out, I dance alone),” she asserts in an impressive drawl, a refrain Benito knew he couldn’t sing as a person. However the second is undercut by the truth that Ríos, the one lady featured on the album, just isn’t credited for her efficiency within the tracklist, upholding a lengthy, sexist precedent in reggaetón. At one level throughout his media rounds, Benito praises her voice however forgets her identify.