How Did Bad Bunny Make Magic on ‘YHLQMDLG’? He Started With a Few Beats From Tainy
Ever since the Colombian star J Balvin introduced the producer Marco “Tainy” Masís to Bad Bunny, the two men have collaborated on a string of critical and commercial hits: The 2018 album X 100Pre, which has been certified ten times platinum by the RIAA, 2019’s Oasis, now double platinum, and the massive one-off “Callaíta,” which has more than 550 million streams on Spotify alone.
So it’s no surprise that Tainy also contributed to Bad Bunny’s Yo Hago Lo Que Me Da La Gana (YHLQMDLG), which came out Saturday at midnight. The album, which stretches out over 20 tracks and 65 minutes, is expected to debut high on the U.S. albums chart, and Tainy is responsible for several of its most engrossing moments, including the skeletal smack of “Yo Perreo Sola” and the wild overflow of “Safaera.” The producer spoke with Rolling Stone about the album’s creation, his overdue musical reunion with Daddy Yankee, and the surprise appearance of the reggaeton veteran Yaviah.
When did you get involved in this album?
It happened little by little. I started to send over ideas of beats, choruses, and trying to come up with a schedule so we can get together. The first time was in New York. We made a session and started to create over there in August. From there we came to my studio in Miami, and that’s where everything really started to take form.
Before he came over here, I left him a beat. That was the one for “Hablamos Mañana.” He knew he wanted to put Duki on it and Pablo Chill-E. We just had his vocals on it. He wanted to go in and record the guys. Then when he sent everything over, I really went in to work.
When you gave him that beat did it already have the full-throttle rock ending?
Nah. When he sent it over, since it was three verses, he wanted it to keep changing as the song was progressing. He had the idea to make it full rock at the end. That’s when I started to throw stuff around, see what could work. I’m a huge rock fan, but I almost never get an opportunity to express myself in those lanes. With him is the only time I’ve been able to go fully into it and see how that sounds. I’m grateful for him to give me the chance to go into the world. We’re a fan of music aside from just what people know us for.
I had my friend who also worked on the last project, Richi López, he’s a master of live instruments. He worked with me on “Ni Bien Ni Mal” on the first album — that has cellos at the end, ukuleles, and he was the one who helped with that part. I also had another producer friend of mine, Albert Hype, he came with the live bass for the ending part, the drum parts, and some electric guitars. The electric guitar was originally Richi, and then we added all the other instruments to it.
The ending was just another guitar instrumental at first. Then Bunny decided to make that a separate track, a freestyle [“<3”], so we had to go in and add drums to it. I heard the melodies and I really wanted a harp, so I found that.
What is your process like when you work together?
He doesn’t really give a specific direction. He sang a chorus he had in mind, and I showed him a beat that I was working on, and that’s how “La Santa” came to be. He had that chorus in mind, but he never laid it out or did anything with it. As soon as I played the first part of the beat, that fit perfectly. It didn’t have Yankee on it yet, but that was the goal.
That one is kind of in the same world as “Callaíta.” I started that melody with Jhay Cortez. We were in the studio trying to create ideas and that’s one of the melodies I made that day. The sound comes from a little pad I have in one plug-in. But I started tweaking, adding reverb, adding filters. The dreamy part of it is so floaty.
It felt amazing, but Jhay had to leave an hour after that. We never ended up doing anything to it. It couldn’t have ended up in better hands than Bunny’s. Then he went to Puerto Rico, sat down with Yankee to record. He said it was epic to see Yankee record — such a legend. To see him go in at this point and see how easily he does it, the delivery is on point, I know he was super happy about it.
You came up under Luny Tunes, who helped Daddy Yankee make some of his biggest hits; what was it like for you to hear him on “La Santa?”
It’s insane. Even knowing him for a while now, we haven’t really collaborated as much as I wanted to. Knowing we could have worked a lot more is something I always had in mind. At the beginning [of my career], I didn’t work that much with him directly; it was more Luny Tunes going in with him. But I saw him at the studio a couple times. The first time I worked with him was his project El Cartel: The Big Boss, the one that has “Impacto” with Fergie, the one where he just signed with Interscope. Scott Storch gave him some melodies but he needed the drums to be more reggaeton, so he called me in and I helped him out with those tracks. After that we always see each other but we never end up doing anything. “La Santa” is a special one because of that. For me, for Bunny, [Daddy Yankee] is an inspiration, a legend to us. He sounds so vintage on it.
Bunny and I did a couple of these songs two days in a row. “Yo Perreo Sola,” he needed a main melody for the hook. He didn’t want it to feel super produced; he wanted it to feel rough, underground, not perfect it too much. It’s mostly bass and drums. But he wanted a melody for the hook, and that’s where I came in. I showed him some options, and he loved the first. The melody fit it but didn’t take it out of the context he wanted it in. And the rest of the song stays simple.
It feels like one of the songs getting the most attention on the album is “Safaera,” with all those wild transitions.
That was a crazy one. I didn’t even know it would be what it is. I had that beat, the first part where Randy comes in, for a while, too. In fact, I did it that same session when I did the beat for “La Santa” with Jhay Cortez. We actually wanted to create a track for Wisin and Yandel. I found a synth that sounded kind of like brass. I knew it was something Wisin and Yandel were looking for. Reggaeton in the early 2000s, brass was really prevalent. To have something within that world was cool. Then we pitched it down, changed the tempo, and that’s why it sounds so distorted and heavy. Jhay laid some vocals on it, but I don’t know if that was the direction that Wisin and Yandel wanted. So it just stayed there.
But I loved the track, so I showed it to Bunny. He’s like, “give this to me.” He went home and recorded, but I didn’t hear anything. I’m like, “Are you gonna use it or not?” La Paciencia, his engineer, says “I think he’s using it, but I’ll let you know.” Then they told me, “this track turned into something crazy.” I’m still waiting to see what’s going to happen. After a while, they sent some files.
When [Missy Elliott’s] “Get Ur Freak On” came out, the producers and DJs took the little guitar or whatever it is and put it with some reggaeton drums — there were a bunch of tracks that had that vibe when we were growing up. To add that, then the vintage Jamaican dancehall tracks, took us way back. To people from home, from Puerto Rico, if you go to a house party over there, that’s what you’re gonna listen to; they just made it into an original track.
How many samples are used on that record?
It’s insane. There’s even a little bit of “El Tiburon” from the Luny Tunez album Mas Flow 2, which is Alexis y Fido and Baby Ranks. It even has that little bit — they didn’t use a lot of it, but they just wanted to have it there.
I don’t know how they put it together. Me talking to Josh Gudwin, who mixed the album, he was like, “Bro, I had to change tempos eight times.” I can just imagine him having a headache trying to figure out everything.
I know you didn’t produce “Bichiyal,” but I’m curious what it’s like for you to hear Yaviah on that track.
For us, that’s amazing. He’s such a legendary character — he disappears for years, then comes back and lays out a hit, then disappears again. The guy’s a mystery. A lot of years can pass by, you put a Yaviah track on, and people go crazy. But he never made an album. To see that Bunny took Yaviah from wherever he was hiding and made such a dope track? We heard it beforehand, we were all just waiting from Yaviah’s verse to come in. It feels like he hasn’t lost a step. And for [Bad Bunny] to do it is also important, because not everyone takes the chance to go and find the guy. He respects the old school, too.
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