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Let me clarify what’s occurring in that blessed picture up prime. The lads dressed up like life-size cartoon characters are J Balvin and Unhealthy Bunny, two of the largest stars within the Spanish-speaking music world, figures so transcendently fashionable that they’ve repeatedly spilled over to English-speaking audiences with little to no data of the urbano scene. The above picture paperwork a type of moments.

Balvin and Bunny are onstage on the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards, carrying colourful costumes that inflate the whole lot however their heads to comedian proportions, surrounded by equally outsized cacti and creatures out of a nursery rhyme acid journey. They’re performing “Qué Pretendes” from Oasis, the collaborative album they launched without warning final summer time finest understood because the urbano equal to Drake and Future’s What A Time To Be Alive. Balvin locks into effortlessly clean melodies and nimble rap cadences, his voice navigating the heavy reggaeton thump with a grace his ridiculous apparel doesn’t afford his physique. Unhealthy Bunny’s burly baritone toggles between rapping and singing as properly, however his each syllable is blurted with an unpolished depth that starkly contrasts his costar’s microphone presence. At one level Bunny’s inflatable hand grabs his inflatable crotch. In the long run, each males are hoisted into the air and up by the ceiling, their absurd apotheosis full.

Like most urbano superstars, Balvin and Bunny collaborate liberally with artists from inside and outdoors the scene, however they’ve been fixed fixtures in one another’s careers ever since they met backstage at a Balvin present 4 years in the past. As chronicled in this useful Billboard timeline, they’re regularly hopping on one another’s songs, leaping on stage at one another’s reveals, and haunting one another’s Instagrams, and their partnership has typically prolonged into the forefront of the American mainstream. Again in 2018, when Balvin was already a world reggaeton celebrity with a top-five US hit in “Mi Gente” and Bunny was nonetheless effervescent up from Puerto Rico, they each guested on Cardi B’s chart-topping summer time jam “I Like It.” Lower than two months in the past, within the type of gargantuan public spectacle that immediately appears like a relic from one other period, they each popped up in Jennifer Lopez and Shakira’s Tremendous Bowl halftime present.

Moreover linking these two within the public creativeness, such appearances have established Balvin (born José Álvaro Osorio Balvín) and Bunny (Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio) as trendy ambassadors for an urbano motion far too broad to be summed up by a handful of superstars. Pitchfork’s current primer on the scene — which encompasses reggaeton, Latin entice, dembow, and different genres which have flourished throughout Latin America for many years — is a good subsequent step for these of us simply beginning to wrap our heads round these sounds. However what piqued my curiosity within the first place, and what perhaps will pique yours, is Balvin and Bunny’s contagiously pleasant music and wild public presentation. Each collectively and individually, they’ve change into vibrant lights shining the way in which towards a complete new world of pop.

In current weeks, each guys launched new solo albums that crystallize their respective appeals. First got here Unhealthy Bunny’s YHLQMDLG, quick for Yo Hago Lo Que Me Aa La Gana. It means “I do what I need,” and man, does he ever. Not that it’s something new: On Unhealthy Bunny’s debut X100PRE, launched on Christmas Eve 2018, his wandering muse carried his baritone outbursts throughout slick, skittering Diplo manufacturing, a shock pop-punk interlude, and a buffet platter of urbano subgenres hybridized by Tainy and Roberto Rosado, all resulting in a sweetly sung duet that discovered Drake singing in Spanish. It performed out like a sonic equal to Unhealthy Bunny’s visible eccentricities just like the third eye he typically paints on his brow and Younger Thug-like tweaking of gender norms, a summation of the attitude he’d been refining by years of hit singles.

YHLQMDLG pushes that unconfined impulse even farther. Opener “Si Veo a Tu Mamá” turns a chintzy Casio model of the ’60s Brazilian bossa nova hit “The Woman From Ipanema” into the inspiration for one thing like his very personal “Hotline Bling.” A full-fledged exhausting rock music breaks out in the midst of penultimate monitor “Hamblamos Mañana.” The throbbing “Yo Perreo Sola” steps you straight into the legendary storage dance events of his native Puerto Rico. The Tainy-produced beat-switch monster “Safaera” cycles by a speedy barrage of touchpoints together with Missy Elliott, Bob Marley, and Jaws, whereas Bunny reminds us how good he can sound atop one constant rhythmic throb on reggaeton tracks just like the hard-thumping “La Difícil” and the modern “Vete” and entice excursions like “Pero Ya No.”

At 20 tracks and 66 minutes, YHLQMDLG is extra of a persistence check than X100PRE, nevertheless it largely rewards your consideration with its various splatter of sounds, largely crafted by the manufacturing duo Subelo NEO and in-demand urbano producer Tainy. Bunny welcomes each elders like Daddy Yankee and Arcángel and friends like Anuel AA and Duki, contributing to the sense of eclecticism. Bunny’s voice, considered one of trendy music’s most expressive channels for cataclysmic emotion, is the primary unifying issue, a sadboi siren music with a magnetism verging on hypnosis. Contributing to the vivid world-building are the album’s visuals, constructed round a younger boy who appears to be some model of a younger Benito discovering his approach on the earth; the child rides a motorcycle on the quilt artwork and seems in movies, at one level convincing a person to not grasp himself by enjoying him Unhealthy Bunny’s music. Elsewhere our younger hero crosses paths with different characters throughout the album’s universe, a realm you might spend a very long time in earlier than following its tributaries out into the world of urbano at massive.

J Balvin’s new Colores is a really totally different type of album. At 10 tracks and 29 minutes, it presents a modern, streamlined imaginative and prescient of urbano as pop. As if additional tightening the theme from Vibras (Vibes), each monitor is known as for a special shade, associations to be strengthened by way of visuals for every monitor by all-star music video director Collin Tilley. All of them had been produced by Sky Rompiendo, who does for reggaeton what the most effective Atlanta producers do for American entice, someway making the identical rhythmic sample sound recent and alive with the subtlest of changes. At a sure level listening to Balvin shout “J Balvin, man!” over a variation on the identical rhythm ought to develop tiresome, nevertheless it by no means does.

The one visitor vocalists on Colores are Rompiendo and Mr. Eazi, the Nigerian singer who additionally emerged on Oasis to assist join the dots between the celebration music of Africa and Latin America. In any other case it’s all Balvin, who by no means ceases to play the suave celebrity, whether or not crooning on the softly moody “Rojo,” weaving by the downbeats of “Morado,” or skipping throughout the spacious, hiccuping “Blanco.” If Unhealthy Bunny is a mad scientist, J Balvin has this shit right down to a science. But with assists from Tilley (try these dancing basketball-people within the “Amarillo” video) and artwork director Takashi Murakami, he’s pushed his picture properly past his style’s ordinary tropes. Solely in comparison with Unhealthy Bunny does he come off as straitlaced.

I really like each of those albums, and I really like that the artists who made them are utilizing their platforms to be themselves. Urbano is a YouTube-dominated style, so the audio and visible parts are much more tightly wrapped collectively than in most music as we speak. Given their large recognition throughout the Spanish-speaking music world, they might draw back from idiosyncratic work within the hopes of sustaining their place. With a foothold within the American mainstream, they might simply try and cross over additional by switching to English, however they’ve held agency, innovating inside their very own traditions relatively than promoting out. At a time when the sound of the American rap mainstream is rising stale, the time might be proper to discover urbano as a vibrant various, and people searching for a gateway into the style couldn’t ask for a extra interesting pair than these two.

CREDIT: Kyle Gustafson / For The Washington Put up by way of Getty Photographs


Roddy Ricch’s “The Field” is someway nonetheless #1 on Billboard’s Scorching 100 for an 11th straight week. It appeared like Future and Drake’s “Life Is Good” would possibly surpass it sooner or later after umpteen weeks at #2, nevertheless it’s now fallen to #4. Then final week it appeared like Dua Lipa’s “Don’t Begin Now” might do it, however that’s fallen to #3 — don’t rule out a surge when Dua’s album drops this Friday.) The brand new #2 is the Weeknd’s newly peaking “Blinding Lights,” a radio hit that basically might get sufficient of a lift from this week’s After Hours launch to lastly dethrone Roddy Ricch. Anyone’s gotta do it quickly.

After Put up Malone and Arizona Zervas comes a brand new #7 peak for Harry Types’ “Adore You,” which turns into his second American top-10 hit alongside solo debut “Signal Of The Occasions,” which peaked at #4. Justin Bieber and Quavo’s “Intentions” is again to its #eight peak, and Lewis Capaldi and Billie Eilish spherical out the highest 10.

Over on the Billboard 200, Lil Uzi Vert’s Everlasting Atake stays #1 for a second straight week because of the discharge of its deluxe version, which was actually a completely new album titled Lil Uzi Vert Vs. The World 2. Billboard is combining the totals for the unique and deluxe albums, which is how Everlasting Atake racked up 247,000 equal album models in its second week. Unusual instances on the charts for a wierd time on the earth!

After Lil Child and Unhealthy Bunny comes a #Four debut for Niall Horan’s Heartbreak Climate with 59,000 models and 42,000 in gross sales. Jhené Aiko and Roddy Ricch are subsequent, then Don Toliver, whose debut Heaven Or Hell enters at #7 with 44,000 models. Put up Malone, Justin Bieber, and the Frozen II soundtrack shut out the highest 10.


The Weeknd – “In Your Eyes”
I nonetheless wish to hear Abel Tesfaye try a Peter Gabriel cowl. This goes nonetheless.

Infantile Gambino – “Time” (Feat. Ariana Grande)
Donald Glover’s albums are normally good for a handful of jams amidst the all of the averageness, and proper on cue, 3.15.20 has blessed us with a retro-futuristic Ariana Grande duet that appears like among the finest Sweetener songs trapped inside a pc with a gospel choir.

Noah Cyrus – “I Bought So Excessive That I Noticed Jesus”
Didn’t anticipate a music known as “I Bought So Excessive That I Noticed Jesus” to be a rustic pivot, nevertheless it’s simply the most effective Noah Cyrus music I’ve ever heard, so… OK!

John Legend – “Actions”
Nor did I anticipate John Legend to be inspirationally vibing over the pattern materials from Dr. Dre’s “The Subsequent Episode,” however that is additionally working for me, particularly when the choice is extra sanitized “All Of Me”-core.

Lauren Jauregui & Tainy – “Lento”
I just like the considered a full Lauren Jauregui reggaeton album sooner or later.


  • Harry Types performed NPR’s Tiny Desk. [NPR]
  • Lana Del Rey and that actuality TV cop brokeup and he talked to the NY Occasions about it. [NYT]
  • Madonna shared a bizarre coronavirus video from her bathtub. [Instagram]
  • Ariana Grande is searching for a restraining order in opposition to an obsessed fan who confirmed up at her home earlier this month. [TMZ]
  • Dixie Chicks did “Gaslighter” on Ellen. [YouTube]
  • Travis Scott and Younger Thug shared a video for “Out West” that includes Quincy Jones. [YouTube]
  • Vanessa Hudgens apologized for “insensitive” feedback she made about coronavirus. [USA Today]
  • Rihanna’s basis donated $5M in pandemic reduction to meals banks serving at-risk communities. [NY Daily News]
  • Sia’s anti-coronavirus tweet has huge Gal Gadot vitality. [Twitter]
  • Niall Horan shared a video for “No Judgement” starring viral toddler Child Boss Brody. [YouTube]
  • Luke Combs coated Tracy Chapman’s “Quick Automobile” in a livestream. [Instagram]
  • Charlie Puth livestreamed a live performance and Q&A from his home.
  • FINNEAS shared a video for “Let’s Fall In Love For The Night time.” [YouTube]
  • Troye Sivan introduced a brand new single, “Take Your self Dwelling,” out 4/1. [Twitter]
  • Miranda Lambert launched a video for “Bluebird.” [YouTube]
  • Ellie Goulding shared her video name exercise along with her coach. [YouTube]
  • A Chipotle-sponsored Zoom hangout that includes Lauv ended abruptly when somebody shared porn onscreen. [Twitter]




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