In the current crop of reggaetoneros, Rauw Alejandro has set himself apart as a modern day song-and-dance man, a performer defined by his natural showmanship and rigorous onstage choreography. With his second album Vice Versa, the Puerto Rican singer takes reggaeton into the future, flexing his versatility as he incorporates pop, drum ‘n’ bass, and other styles.
Reggaeton remains the king of the Latin music scene, but it’s reaching a point where the songs are becoming repetitive. With his debut album, last year’s Afrodisíaco, Alejandro was starting to test the genre-bending waters. In Vice Versa, he’s flipping the script and leaning fully into his innovative intuition. With recent collaboration co-signs from Selena Gomez, Jennifer Lopez, and Christina Aguilera, Rauw is solidifying himself as the next Latin pop star and this latest album is testament to that.
Alejandro gives reggaeton music an electronic edge in songs like the dreamy “Nubes” and alluring “Sexo Virtual.” The latter could be a Latin update to ‘NSync’s online-loving anthem “Digital Get Down.” In paying tribute to Puerto Rico’s perreo roots in “La Old Skul,” he elevates Nicky Jam and Daddy Yankee’s classic “En La Cama” into a hypnotic club banger.
The best moments in Vice Versa are when Alejandro completely breaks out of the box. The stunning standout is “Desenfocao,” which blends eighties synth-pop with cowbell-driven funk. “Not even drugs can erase your memory,” he sings, caught in a whirlwind romance. He rages against the machine in “Cuándo Fue,” his kiss-off sealed with a sonic blast of drum ‘n’ bass. On the other end of the spectrum, Alejandro’s love song “Todo De Ti” is a sunny, disco-driven delight. He also ventures into Brazilian baile funk in the bouncy “Brazilera” alongside the country’s superstar Anitta.
It’s not all highs on Vice Versa. “Aquel Nap ZzZz” lives up to its name as a Latin trap snoozer and “Cosa Guapa” takes too long to go from one of the album’s slumping moments into an explosion of house music. But these are are slow points on a great album that always seems like it go in any direction. There’s no limits to Alejandro’s malleable flow.