When you’re already the biggest artist on the pop-adjacent edge of música urbana, the next logical place to look next is up. As such, for his third album Nibiru, Ozuna aims for the stars with a loosely sci-fi derived concept guiding his skywards path. Considering how vital and commercially successful his Odisea debut and its robust follow-up Aura proved, the ambition towards narrative worldbuilding makes a great deal of sense.
Yet after the project’s initial announcement and subsequent months of release date silence, the phrase “Nibiru: Coming Soon” began to take on meme-like properties. More importantly, it created grand, perhaps unreasonable expectations that the Latin superstar regrettably hasn’t entirely lived up to.
Largely to blame here are two high-profile collaborations with English-language rap legacies — some of which might have seemed like misfires a few years back from Daddy Yankee or J Balvin, and leave cringeworthy effects at the decade’s end. Tío Snoop’s apparent willingness to deliver a forgettable verse to just about anyone who asks does Ozuna no favors on “Patek.“ Worse still is the botched Bad Boy interpolating “Eres Top,” in which a Diddy quickie can’t quite salvage DJ Snake’s “I Need A Girl Pt. 2” redux.
While those dicey moments threaten to leave the U.S.S. Nibiru sputtering out in the stratosphere, Ozuna ascends gracefully when he pushes past ill-fitting nostalgia and claims his contemporary moment. A reggaetonero par excellence, he comes through with emotional dancefloor thrills on “Baila Baila Baila” and “Hasta Que Salga El Sol.” A restless romantic to his core, he pines harder than your fave over the dembow thump of “Difícil Olvidar” and “Fantasía.” He also remains a masterful balladeer, evident on the breezy “Pégate” as well as the previously released “Amor Genuino.”
On the guest front, Swae Lee’s vibes energize them both on the bilingual push-and-pull of “Sin Pensar,” while intergenerational magic emerges on ”Reggaeton En Paris” with Rich Music upstart Dalex and a revitalized Nicky Jam. For album highlight “Yo Tengo Una Gata,” Sech brings that “Otro Trago” energy to Ozuna’s wheelhouse, where the duo appear suitably matched as they toast a particularly winsome lover.
Those hoping for alien perreo hybrids assuredly won’t find them on Nibiru, and admittedly such reggaeton futurism is better suited to the likes of Tomasa Del Real and her underground ilk. But while the album doesn’t quite reach moonwalk status, Ozuna’s progressive steps demonstrated here towards perfecting his popwise craft warrant further analysis and repeat listening right here on Earth.