Bad Bunny, the Puerto Rican rapper-singer who has accumulated more than seven billion YouTube views across a stream of hit singles this year, released his debut album, X100PRE, on Sunday night. The album title is a stylization of the words “por siempre,” which means “forever” in Spanish.
Using sounds sourced from outside his trap-reggaeton comfort zone — including touches of synthwave and pop-punk — the 15-track collection includes “Mia,” a svelte collaboration with Drake that debuted at Number Five on the Hot 100 in October and remains in the Top 40 two months later. X100PRE also features a song with pop dynamo Ricky Martin (under his government name, Enrique), another with producer Diplo, and a track with El Alfa, a Dominican artist who has gained fans with a series of relentless, high-impact dembow numbers. Production credits cite famed reggaeton masters Tainy and Roberto Rosado (a.k.a. “La Paciencia”), plus mastering by Josh Gudwin, who has worked on songs for dozens of Anglophone pop stars, including Rihanna and Justin Bieber.
Though Bad Bunny discussed his debut album in interviews earlier this year, its release is still somewhat surprising, because few modern artists have made albums seem more superfluous than this one. Bad Bunny racked up a stunning amount of streams on single after single in 2016 and 2017, helping Latin trap break into a Latin mainstream that was heavily focused on reggaeton and wary of new sounds. His flexible vocals and all-around charisma also made him an in-demand collaborator for superstars like J Balvin and Daddy Yankee.
“I feel like right now I’m at the best moment of my career,” said Bad Bunny during a Beats 1 special on Sunday night. “I have always wanted to release an album but I never had the opportunity… I never had the support… but now I feel completely free as an artist, and as a person. I feel really comfortable, I feel good about making an album and showing people something different.”
This year, Bad Bunny expanded his reach, appearing on the remix to “Te Bote,” which was the most watched music video on YouTube in 2018; joining Cardi B on “I Like It,” which reached Number One on the Hot 100, and then joining forces with Drake, who sang entirely in Spanish on “Mia.” The extent of Bad Bunny’s influence was on full display during the Latin Grammys, where he performed more songs than any other artist even though he was nominated in only one category.
In the lead up to X100PRE, the rapper released a music video for new song “Solo De Mi,” which doubles as a PSA against intimate partner violence. Earlier this week, Bad Bunny also announced a North American tour that will take from arena to arena in March and April. He will now have plenty of new music to include in his set-lists.