Behind Unhealthy Bunny’s Summery Shock, ‘Un Verano Sin Ti’ – •

Isabelia Herrera critiques Unhealthy Bunny’s current work and presence for The New York Instances, explaining that his fourth album was impressed by a spectrum of Caribbean music. “I’ve made it clear to those that I’m by no means going to make a file that’s the identical as one other,” the pop star stated.

Most pop stars would transfer heaven and earth to attend the Met Gala. However for Unhealthy Bunny, one in every of music’s most idiosyncratic figures, it’s simply one other Monday evening. “Clearly I’m completely happy that they invited me,” he stated, twirling backward and forward in a excessive leather-based swivel chair at New York’s honored Electrical Girl Studios about 48 hours earlier than the unique trend fête. “I do know that day goes to be an thrilling factor,” he continued. “However I’m working so much this week!”

Final Monday, he introduced his casting because the lead of a live-action Marvel film, enjoying a personality from the Spider-Man universe named El Muerto. Two days after that, he was filming music movies in Puerto Rico. All through all of it, he was getting ready for the discharge of his fourth studio album, “Un Verano Sin Ti” (“A Summer season With out You”), which dropped on Friday.

On the gala on Monday, Unhealthy Bunny — born Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio — wore a customized cream boiler swimsuit and skirt with puff sleeves, designed by Riccardo Tisci for Burberry. At Electrical Girl, calmly placing the ultimate touches on the album and dealing on some new materials, he sported a quintessentially Benito look: pastel pink swim trunks, a checkered blue cardigan and a wide-brimmed sage fisherman’s hat. His left thigh was lined in tattoos, together with the sad-faced cartoon coronary heart that seems on the art work for his new album, and a top level view of his residence, Puerto Rico. His proper thigh bore just one design: the emblem for Pokémon Go.

Since his genre-crushing debut in 2018, Unhealthy Bunny, now 28, has been practically unstoppable, colliding pop punk, synth-pop, bachata, dembow and reggaeton on his strategy to turning into a world celebrity. He launched two LPs in 2020, together with “El Último Tour Del Mundo,” the first absolutely Spanish-language album to hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart. He’s been probably the most streamed artist on Spotify two years in a row.

The story of Unhealthy Bunny’s legendary ascent from a grocery bagger within the small city of Vega Baja to a torchbearer for a brand new era of reggaeton and lure artists has change into practically folklore. Prior to now few years, he’s additionally remodeled right into a trend renegade, an rising social critic, a semiprofessional wrestler and a budding actor. In July, he’ll make his function movie debut in “Bullet Prepare,” a bloody motion film through which he fistfights Brad Pitt. Unhealthy Bunny stated he educated with stuntmen for weeks to organize.

“I at all times wished to behave and the chance got here alongside, however I didn’t know that one of many first ones was going to be with Brad Pitt,” he stated incredulously.

“On the finish of the day, I’m nonetheless the identical individual I’ve at all times been,” he added. “That’s what’s necessary, what you need to know. I shouldn’t care how the world sees me, however quite, who I do know I’m,” he continued. “With that, I’ll be very completely happy.”

Unhealthy Bunny has approached every of his albums with an express aim. “Since eternally I’ve made it clear to those that I’m by no means going to make a file that’s the identical as one other,” he stated. However past the ambition to warp genres, he’s additionally refused to genuflect to business conventions, particularly ones for Spanish-speaking artists.

“I may have carried out a monitor with, who is aware of, Miley Cyrus or Katy Perry,” he defined, referring to his first 2020 album, “YHLQMDLG.” “However no, I used to be making ‘Safaera’ with Ñengo Circulate and Jowell y Randy. And I used to be placing the entire world onto underground from Puerto Rico, you already know? That makes me really feel pleased with what I characterize.”

He approached “Un Verano Sin Ti” with a little bit of a lighter contact: “It’s a file to play in the summertime, on the seaside, as a playlist.” He drew on each current experiences and nostalgia for canine days of the previous. “After I was somewhat child, my household would go to the West on trip,” he stated, referring to the coast of Puerto Rico. For “Un Verano Sin Ti,” he determined to discover the japanese aspect, close to Río Grande and Fajardo. Nearly all of the album was recorded there and within the Dominican Republic.

“Un Verano Sin Ti” is a pop album, however not essentially an easy one. Unhealthy Bunny infuses it with electrifying beat switches, raunchy raps and astral synths. The file was impressed by an expansive spectrum of Caribbean music: the deep cuts of the beloved salsa singer Ismael Rivera; Dominican dembow; and teams like Buscabulla, who seem on the track “Andrea.”

“The album may be very Caribbean, in each sense: with its reggaeton, its mambo, with all these rhythms, and I prefer it that approach,” Unhealthy Bunny stated. Although his profession usually takes him removed from residence, he’s at all times saved Puerto Rico shut — generally, he nonetheless pronounces his “Rs” with the guttural, back-of-the-throat intonation so widespread within the countryside. And he nonetheless has that Caribbean humorousness. When requested about what he hoped to do on the Met Gala, he joked, “I would like my hookah,” cackling.

On the mutant mambo of “Después de la Playa,” Unhealthy Bunny sings on a stay mic over the Dominican band Dahian el Apechao, echoing the fashion of the merengue experimentalist Omega El Fuerte. “Titi Me Preguntó,” a shape-shifting dembow monitor with a horror-movie synth outro, samples Kiko El Loopy, the pink-haired dembow eccentric.

“Un Verano Sin Ti” additionally comprises collaborations with indie artists just like the Marías and Bomba Estéreo, and plunges deeper into gauzy dream-pop textures and wistful synth interludes that really feel huge and intimate abruptly. The aural panorama is harking back to indietronica artists like M83, however Unhealthy Bunny and his producers Tainy, MAG and La Paciencia immerse it in Caribbean gloss.

Each MAG and Unhealthy Bunny had been partially impressed by Buscabulla’s lush synth pop, and Unhealthy Bunny stated he listened to the duo’s 2020 album, “Regresa,” on repeat throughout quarantine.

“It was Easter Sunday and we bought a name from a bunny,” the duo’s multi-instrumentalist, Luis Alfredo Del Valle, joked in a cellphone interview. On “Andrea,” Unhealthy Bunny renders a portrait of a Puerto Rican girl hoping to stay life on her personal phrases, and Buscabulla’s vocalist, Raquel Berríos, assumes the character’s voice. “I felt that the refrain needed to carry a number of weight about what it means to be a lady from the Caribbean,” Berríos stated. “I had by no means labored this difficult for a track.” [. . .]

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