Tainy is one of reggaeton's most influential beatmakersJpneon16 / Wikimedia Commons

Tainy’s new album DATA takes listeners on a futuristic sonic journey that remains faithful to his reggaeton roots while venturing into new territory. Known for producing groundbreaking songs like Daddy Yankee’s ‘El Teléfono’ at just 16 years old, the Puerto Rican producer and reggaeton icon Tainy is one of the genre’s most influential beatmakers. Now this legendary producer has released an album featuring collaborations with his favourite artists – a rite of passage that famous contemporary producers like Metro Boomin, DJ Khaled and Kaytranada have also undertaken.

“Even in an increasingly digitised world, humanity can be found in the intricacies of electronic music”

In an interview with Chente Ydrach, Tainy explained that, as a producer rather than a vocalist, he conveys concepts in his art by interweaving elements of individual tracks to portray a story rather than through lyricism. DATA depicts a cyborg called “Sena” who becomes human by listening to the album and processing each song as “data”. The key to understanding the record’s genius is not to focus on the vocalists’ musings on sex, money, and partying, which are typical of urban genres. Instead, it is by acknowledging Tainy’s innovative manipulation of Latin and electronic beats that one uncovers the contradiction that, even in an increasingly digitised world, humanity can be found in the intricacies of electronic music.

A romance between reggaeton and electronic music, the album features collaborations with electronic music legends like Skrillex and a standout EDM sample from Four Tet in my favourite track, ‘VOLVER’. This mystical steelpan sample compliments the track’s dembow rhythm, which later transitions into drum and bass percussion, creating a pulsating and ethereal record that incorporates a mosaic of Caribbean musical elements.

“Tainy constantly plays with the dichotomy between gentle and harsh on the album”

Venezuelan alt-perreo producer Arca, known for her disorientating dissection of reggaeton sounds, features on ‘PASIEMPRE’, which boasts an all-star line-up of Jhayco, Bad Bunny, Arcángel, and Omar Courtz. Like the other fully capitalised tracks, ‘PASIEMPRE’ is roaring with energy, driven by a Latin trap beat and futuristic sounds that exude opulent grandeur – an aesthetic that no genre encapsulates quite like trap. The track concludes with a beat switch, characteristic of Arca’s ominous yet epic production.

Conversely, most of the tracks written in lowercase have soft, melancholy beats. In ‘mañana’, The Marías’ hypnotising vocals evoke warmth and nostalgia, enhanced by faint murmurs of conversation and Young Miko’s relaxed and sensual flow. My favourite beat switch on the album occurs in ‘si preguntas por mi’, which encapsulates yearning through synth beats reminiscent of floating in space – a metaphor for the trapping yet otherworldly experience of longing. A glittery introduction precedes Arcángel’s ‘me jodí…’, in which his distinctive voice is presented with unusual softness. Tainy constantly plays with the dichotomy between gentle and harsh on the album, his representation of iconic vocalists refreshingly contradicting their traditional sounds.

Evoking what one might call futuristic nostalgia, Tainy takes familiar sounds and transports them into his cyborg fantasy. For instance, ‘FANTASMA | AVC’ resembles a 90s Nintendo game that you can perrear (dance reggaeton) to. Similarly, the familiarity of ‘Todavía’ lies in Tainy’s adjustment of traditional reggaeton elements to suit the auditory aesthetic of the album – a soundscape that can be described as “a waterfall of glitter controlled by a robot”.


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Some songs, however, like ‘desde las 10 (KANY’S INTERLUDE)’ are more forgettable, while others contain vocals and lyrics that detract from Tainy’s production, as seen in Myke Towers’ cringe-worthy verse on ‘obstacúlo’. Although Towers’ mentions of bitcoin and cars align with the genre’s expectations, the harshness of his flow makes the beginning of the record seem abrupt and unexpected. Overall, this track opens the album on an irrelevant and superficial note.

While Tainy’s cyborg narrative is difficult to understand without the album’s visuals, his desire to highlight the humanity expressed in music is evident from the diversity of his influences, which encompass reggaeton, trap, D&B, R&B, techno and even rock. Aesthetically, Tainy draws much of his inspiration from Japan. By gathering ideas from such diverse and seemingly unrelated sources and combining them so that each track flows seamlessly into the next, Tainy creates an auditory experience akin to a scrapbook of memories. In this tapestry of mismatched associations, woven together in the human mind, lies a machine storing the “data” of an entire lifetime.