Ricky Martin, Residente, and Bad Bunny joined forces for a cross-generational celebration of Puerto Rico’s musical heritage at the Latin Grammys on Thursday. The three stars performed their new collaboration “Cántalo,” which attempts a bold merger of canonical salsa, radio-friendly reggaeton and window-shaking trap.
“Cántalo” opened with full-throated singing from Martin, who also served as the host of this year’s Latin Grammys ceremony. A blast of horns signaled that it was time to pass the baton to Residente, who rapped with casual ferocity. The chorus reverted to full-throttle salsa before Bad Bunny bounded out of the crowd to rap a verse. Then the track briefly shifted gears, nodding to the half-time tempo that is common on trap singles, before another rousing chorus.
The core of “Cántalo” will be familiar to many listeners — the song references “Mi Gente,” which was written by Johnny Pacheco and became one of Héctor Lavoe’s most recognizable hits in the Seventies. Martin told El Nuevo Dia that the famous salsa label Fania handed over the masters of the original track, which Martin described as a “a big responsibility.” “I feel that the inspiration came from this wave of ancestors who have a need to communicate something,” the star added. “We simply opened the channels so that they could manifest themselves in the way they needed it.”
“Cántalo” is part of a wave of cross-generational fusions attempting to merge salsa’s past with a present ruled by reggaeton and trap. Last year, Marc Anthony tried something similar on “Está Rico” featuring Bad Bunny and Will Smith; the three of them performed it at the 2018 Latin Grammys. In addition, Bad Bunny popped up on “Mala y Peligrosa,” a collaboration with Victor Manuelle, another salsa veteran, in 2017. And earlier this year, the Spanish rapper C. Tangana nodded to salsa-trap in “Para Repartir,” a single with Alizzz.