Word had been swirling for months about a joint Bad Bunny and J Balvin album. Not an album where tracks were exchanged — one by Bad Bunny, one by J Balvin — but a bona fide album of duets.
And, here it is. Following a very hush-hush, rush-rush campaign where the music was made available to key music publications just days before release, Oasis was released first thing Friday (June 28), via Universal Music. We expected it to be a smash, and it is. Each track here is eminently commercial, even when the tempos slow down (which they do). Don’t think about riffing on global change or social issues; Oasis is all about girls and parties.
But the eight-song set, largely produced by Sky and Tainy, is also carefully, thoughtfully put together, built just on single beats and vamps, with scant — if any — further instrumentation, and touches of other genres very cleverly scattered throughout. Oasis is not quite reggaeton, not quite trap, and the pair’s voices come together in a seamless interaction.
“Do you know what an oasis is? Those beautiful places that stand out in the middle of dryness. … You see it and go: ‘That’s special…That’s different’ … And the way you write it is the same in English and Spanish,” Balvin recently said on Beats 1, which aired an interview with the duo minutes before the album’s release.
Here is everything you need to know about each track:
1. “Mojaita”: “Hey, bienvenidos al Oasis” (Welcome to the Oasis), Balvin chants in the opening line to the opening song, which doesn’t take the name of the album, but does welcome us into a world of trap and reggaeton that has finesse, despite the sometimes obvious lyrics. This Oasis, after all, features a girl who is “Mojadita, mojadita” (wet, wet). It’s still an effective, immediately hooky track that trades on Balvin’s ability to make us want to instantaneously get up and celebrate. Balvin and Bad Bunny trade verses before joining forces, their voices at the forefront of a mix that only uses beats and a vampy synth, augmented by sound effects for rich impact. Bonus: Listen very carefully and you’ll realize that the opening vamp is a variation, in a minor key, on the vamp of Balvin’s smash hit “Mi Gente.”
2. “Yo Le Llego” (I’ll Get There): Bad Bunny’s voice is so much lower than Balvin’s, giving “Yo Le Llego” a far darker hue despite its party anthem (“Hey, tell me, Where the drinks at? Where the women at? I’ll Get There”), bragging rights lyrics (”We’re long past seven figures”).
3. “Cuidado Por Ahí” (Careful Around There): With hints of Anuel AA in its macho swagger and occasional “Brrr,” “Cuidado” is deceptively simple. Have fun figuring out which voice is which.
4. “Qué Pretendes” (What are you after): You thought these guys couldn’t sing? Think again. “Qué Pretendes” is romantic reggaetón, of the “you broke my heart, I want nothing to do with you” kind. And Balvin and Bad Bunny spell it out, singing their hearts out with aching sincerity. One of the strongest tracks on the album, “Qué Pretendes” also succeeds by proving each of these two voices is distinct — not just in tone, but in message. Taking the high road: “Things aren’t the same. Why do you insist? Forget about it and don’t waste your time. You’re sneaking around, checking my photos, investigating my profile. Don’t deny it, I know you.” And on the other hand: “This is no time to call, unless you want to suck it […] To be clear, I can’t even stand you. Because of you I did pills. But you’re no Kardashian, I’m not going to screw you.” Guess who’s who?
5. “La Cancion” (The Song): In the past few months, Bad Bunny has shown to be an excellent balladeer with a knack for writing heartwrenching songs. “I thought I had forgotten you, but they played the song,” he sings plaintively in the opening to this trap gem, where eventually good taste wins over the sometimes raunch thanks to its accompaniment of sparse piano chords and jazzy trumpet lines. The end lyrics — “And I thought your name was dead, but I dreamt you awake” — is another nod at the possibility of trap with a touch of soul.
6. “Un Peso” (One Peso) feat. Marciano Cantero of Enanitos Verdes: Balvin and Bad Bunny have chosen to collaborate with a single Latin artist in this set, and it isn’t Ozuna or Daddy Yankee or any of the usual suspects. Instead, they’ve turned to venerable Argentine rockers Enanitos Verdes, paying homage to their pan-regional classic hit “Lamento Boliviano” in what can be best described as rock/reggaeton. And it’s perfectly fantastic. It’s not just the use of the charango as a rare acoustic instrument in this set, or the decided parallels in the melody, which are fun to track, but also Balvin sliding in the “corazón idiota” (idiot heart) reference when you least expect it and Cantero coming in with priceless, incisive lyrics. “Un Peso” is one of the best tracks here. Hopefully this kind of sound will become a trend.
7. “Odio” (Hate): it takes a couple of listens to truly appreciate “Odio’s” “go to hell, bitch” message. But once it sinks in, its deadpan, devastatingly mean lyrics are perfectly delicious. Just wait until millions start to sing: “I hate you, God forgive me but I hate you/ I went from love to hate I hate you/ If you want to I’ll stick it in you, but with hate.”
8. “Como un Bebé” (Like a Baby), feat. Mr. Eazi: The second collab on this album also bends the rules. Nigerian singer Mr. Eazi, a pioneer of Banku music, steps into this fun, uptempo Afro-beat track, singing in Spanish and English. It’s a lighthearted final touch for an album that strikes many notes.