Bad Bunny: A Summer Without You Album Review

In this small, symbolic New York City bar, he celebrated another muse for the project: the vacations he spent as a child on the west coast of Puerto Rico. The album’s satisfying transitions illustrate a summer in Caribbean– what it feels like to be on those beaches, the everyday expressions and dialects of the Spanish-speaking Caribbean. The sound of seagulls in the track-to-track transition between “Agosto” and “Callaita” perfectly evokes the texture and atmosphere of the beach. With dazzling eclecticism, Bad Bunny touches on nu-disco, psychedelia, electro-pop and house to reggaetón-based songs such as “Party” with Rauw Alejandro, “Tarot” with Jhay Cortez and one of the most political songs, “El Apagón.” The second half brings a wealth of unexpected collaborations: on ‘Ojitos Lindos’ and ‘Otro Atardecer’ respectively, the Colombian cumbia electro group Bomba Estéreo and the indie pop band The Marías seamlessly adapt to the world of the project.

The B-side also serves as a melodic discourse on Puerto Rican livelihood. Puerto Rican duo Buscabulla stars in ‘Andrea’, an indie pop song that touches on feminicide and gender violence. “El Apagón” (“The Blackout”) is a middle finger to those who privatize the island’s electrical grid and beaches, promoting the displacement and gentrification of communities in Puerto Rico, the world’s oldest colony. “Que se vayan ellos/Lo que me pertenece a mí/Se lo quedan ellos” (Let them go/What’s mine/They keep it to themselves), Bad Bunny’s girlfriend, Gabriela Berlingeri, sings in the outro. “This Is My Country” (This is my country† The song’s opening rhythm is the pulse of bomba, a genre originated by enslaved Africans to preserve the tradition that today symbolizes resistance and liberation.

The truth is: perreo, nagging at the waist and quivering ass are all forms of protest and expression, and are activated evenly throughout the album. While the B-side is designed for nagging and deep thought, the A-side sets the scene for teteos, cookouts and beach parties, keeping reggaetón culture at the forefront with performances by native legends such as Tony Dize on “La Corriente” and Plan B’s Chencho Corleone on “Me Porto Bonito.” Much of the manufacturing influences belong to the Dominican Republic, although genuine Dominican artists are conspicuously absent. “Después de la Playa,” which opens with synths morphing into a Dominican mambo a little over a minute later, is one of the few songs to name a Dominican artist: Against a foundation of guira, tambora, and piano, you hear, “I’m here with el Apechao” – a reference to Dahian el Apechao, an instrumentalist, singer and composer with an impressive history of collaborations with both mambo and reggaetón artists. The lack of visible representation for more Black Dominican artists on an album so indebted to their influence feels like a missed opportunity.

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