The album opens with “Nadie Sabe,” a six-minute manifesto of superstar isolation set to brooding orchestral chords, with Bad Bunny eventually joined by a full choir. He declares himself “the biggest star in the entire world”; he also warns that “No one knows, no, what it feels like to feel alone in front of 100,000 people.” And for all his well-earned self-confidence, the haters still get under his skin. “I’m not at my peak, now I’m in my prime,” he sings. “That’s why they’re praying that I crash.”
Connect that, of course, to grievance-powered politics and social media algorithms that stoke conflict and encourage pointless beefs. Musicians now market themselves in that environment and have to deal, one way or another, with the comments. But musicians also have different, nonverbal outlets. They have the visceral joys of rhythm. They have the intuitive responses to a harmony or a vocal tone. They have the freedom, especially in the digital era, to make startling sonic leaps with a mouse click.
Bad Bunny has embraced those possibilities, broadening his musical horizons with each of his albums. While Latin trap and reggaeton are his musical foundations, he has delved into rock, reggae, hip-hop, salsa, bomba, merengue, EDM and more, sometimes within the same song, as he did in tracks like “Después de la Playa” and “El Apagón” on his blockbuster 2022 album, “Un Verano Sin Ti.”
Yet on the new album, Bad Bunny deliberately narrows his palette. “Nadie Sabe” declares that the album is for his “real fans,” and most of its songs return to the Latin trap that dominated his first album, “X 100PRE,” in 2018. Five years seems a little too soon for a nostalgia trip.
As craftsman and singer, Bad Bunny is thoroughly at home with the ticking electronic drums and minor chords of Latin trap. In the new songs, he works his way through familiar topics: wealth, parties, sex, fame, autonomy. And even in well-trodden sonic territory, he can create arresting songs. He’s decisively embittered in “Gracias por Nada” (“Thanks for Nothing”), a post-breakup trap ballad that burns every bridge as it details how deeply he was betrayed.