Bad Bunny has approached each of his albums with an explicit goal. “Since forever I’ve made it clear to people that I’m never going to make a record that’s the same as another,” he said. But beyond the ambition to warp genres, he’s also refused to genuflect to industry conventions, especially ones for Spanish-speaking artists.
“I could have done a track with, who knows, Miley Cyrus or Katy Perry,” he explained, referring to his first 2020 album, “YHLQMDLG.” “But no, I was making ‘Safaera’ with Ñengo Flow and Jowell and Randy. And I was putting the whole world onto underground from Puerto Rico, you know? That makes me feel proud of what I represent.”
I have approached “Un Verano Sin Ti” with a bit of a lighter touch: “It’s a record to play in the summer, on the beach, as a playlist.” He drew on both recent experiences and nostalgia for dog days of the past. “When I was a little kid, my family would go to the West on vacation,” he said, referring to the coast of Puerto Rico. For “Un Verano Sin Ti,” I have decided to explore the eastern side, near Río Grande and Fajardo. The majority of the album was recorded there and in the Dominican Republic.
“Un Verano Sin Ti” is a pop album, but not necessarily a straightforward one. Bad Bunny infuses it with electrifying beat switches, raunchy raps and astral synths. The record was inspired by an expansive spectrum of Caribbean music: the deep cuts of the beloved salsa singer Ismael Rivera; Dominican dembow; and groups like Buscabulla, who appear on the song “Andrea.”
“The album is very Caribbean, in every sense: with its reggaeton, its mambo, with all those rhythms, and I like it that way,” Bad Bunny said. Though his career often takes him far from home, he’s always kept Puerto Rico close — sometimes, he still pronounces his “Rs” with the guttural, back-of-the-throat intonation so common in the countryside. And he still has that Caribbean sense of humour. When asked about what he hoped to do at the Met Gala, he joked, “I want my hookah,” cackling.