Bad Bunny returns with another No. 1 album

Photo of bad bunny posing infant of purple sky.
Bad Bunny is a world renowned Puerto Rican artist most known for his reaggeton music and non-comforming style (Photo courtesy of Creative Commons). 

To no one’s surprise, Bad Bunny released another album that effortlessly balances personal intimacy and cultural specificity. “Un Verano Sin Ti,” beyond being an excellent Caribbean summer playlist, is a 23-track project that encourages diasporic joy, perreo and rest.

Divided into Side A and Side B, the tracklist features iconic Puerto Rican artists, such as pioneer Tony Dize who shines on “La Corriente” and Chencho from reggaeton duo Plan B, along with modern acts Jhay Cortez and Rauw Alejandro. As Bad Bunny’s longest project to date, the album encompasses all of the emotions felt during a summer of love and longing.

“It’s like when you go out to party, you’re excited, but then you get drunk and sentimental,” the Boricua artist said in an interview with Puerto Rican comedian Chente Ydrach.

Bad Bunny was named Spotify’s most-streamed artist for the past two years in a row, and each of his full-length albums — which have collectively fused old-school reggaeton, trap, pop punk, rock and more — have garnered significant acclaim. Different from the pressure cooker that reflected the anticipation for this album, the project itself is much more leisure-centric.

That carefree, cool Caribbean nature shined through on alternative tracks that featured more indie artists such as Bomba Estéreo on “Ojitos Lindos,” Buscabulla on “Andrea” and The Marías on “Otro Atardecer.”

The album’s length afforded the Boricua artist time to experiment even further with genre and show the range of which he is capable. The album comes alive with throwback trap on “Dos Mil 16” and mambo on “Después de la Playa,” reminiscent of great live albums past and reverberating with the warmth of a room pulsing with movement.

As much as the album is musically significant, Benito’s hyperlocal touchpoints and politically charged nods are — yet again — what makes it great. “Andrea” was initially speculated to be about the tragic case of Andrea Ruiz, who was a victim of femicide in Puerto Rico. Although that theory has been disputed, it still remains a powerful song, featuring Raquel Berrios, touching on the realities of being a woman on the island where domestic violence and femicide have been on the rise.

“El Apagón” is loudly patriotic, but not absent from island reality. In April, Puerto Rico experienced an islandwide blackout, the most recent of a series of outages following damage to its electrical grid by Hurricane Maria in 2017. Through a blend of reggaeton and house music, this track stands out in its ability to find the energy to celebrate while reflecting on the realities of continued colonization of the island.

Bad Bunny’s girlfriend, Gabriela Berlingeri, is featured on the song’s outro where she touches on the exploitation of Puerto Rico as a tax haven for American outsiders: “Lo que me pertenece a mí se lo quedan ellos / Que se vayan ellos / Esta es mi playa, este es mi sol.”

“Un Verano Sin Ti” truly captures the nature of longing — it provides a sonic push and pull that captures the sun-tired exhaustion that follows hours of beachside joy, the feeling of sore muscles during a never ending night of dancing.

The album, above all, reminds listeners that the Caribbean diaspora is not unfamiliar with finding peace amid changes, currents and chaos, as Berrios sings in “Andrea”: “Que digan lo que sea / Yo subo y bajo como la marea.”