After a solid 12 days of protesting Puerto Rico’s soon-to-be-ex-Governor Ricardo Rosselló, Residente and Bad Bunny, comrades in Boricua struggle, return to what made them friends in the first place: their music.
The two released a jaunty reggaeton single Friday morning titled “Bellacoso,” along with a video directed by Paris-based cinematographer Gregory Ohrel. Filmed on one of Puerto Rico’s many idyllic beaches, dancers of all shapes, colors and gender expressions flaunt their bodies (and armpit hair) in the sunshine.
Yet their moves serve as more than a backdrop to the MCs’ daring wordplay. The body-positive new visual is inextricable from an ongoing dialogue on the safety of women and gender-non-conforming people in Puerto Rico — incited by local feminist activists, who also helped kickstart the island’s #RickyRenuncia protests.
“I have five sisters,” says Residente, who supported the group in their calls to action. “I have to be aware of these things!”
“Bellacoso” is a heightened version of the word “bellaco” — which, in English, is analogous to “horny.” But when Residente sings, “Bellacoso pero sin acoso,” he tells Rolling Stone, “It’s about being horny without harassment — it’s consensual. If everybody wants to go all the way, whether you’re a twosome, threesome, or foursome, everybody has to consent.”
The song’s thick, viscous beats were supplied by The Hamilton Mixtape producer Trooko — along with a drum sample by DJ Urba, best known for his work on Daddy Yankee’s classic 2005 record, Barrio Fino. (“It’s got that Daddy sound,” says Residente.) “Bellacoso” is one of the few reggaeton songs Residente has recorded himself, first with Calle 13’s 2005 superhit “Atrévete-Te-Te.”
“Back in the day, reggaeton, like rock, like any genre — had its ups and downs,” he explains. “Fourteen years ago, reggaeton was super hot. I didn’t want to use it to make myself famous.”
Although the rapper has been critical of urbano music’s commercial turn over the years, his friendship with known chart-topper Bad Bunny has him singing a different tune. “I don’t rap because I want to be famous or be part of the Top 20,” he says. “I just wanna do something creative and fun… And to collaborate with someone like Benito is a fun experiment. We’re friends, we have good chemistry and get along super well.”
When he describes “Bellacoso” as an experiment, though, he doesn’t simply mean an artistic one: Residente first conducted an electroencephalogram (EEG) test on Bad Bunny’s brain — then used his brain waves to inspire the track. Much like the mind of Bad Bunny, says Residente, “this song is all about tempo and rhythm.”
“The brain frequencies, you change them into numbers,” he says.” Then you can change those numbers into sounds, rhythms and patterns.”
Residente’s new single is just the first of many EEG-incorporating tracks, all of which will appear on his upcoming solo album, yet untitled, due in October 2019. “I am focusing on the frequencies that connect us as humans to then develop a sound, lyrics, and concept,” he says, “[and] will present some twists on how we connect with the universe in general.”