Tainy’s musical contributions to modern-day Latin pop are unparalleled. As a mastermind behind many a reggaetón-pop hit — including producing nine of the 23 tracks found on Bad Bunny’s genre-hopping, record-shattering Un Verano Sin Ti blockbuster — it’s no doubt that he has helped revamp the Latin pop playbook. The Puerto Rican producer is now preparing to drop his solo debut LP, the star-studded DATA, in early 2023.
To date, the 2022 Latin Grammy winner for producer of the year has unveiled the wildly successful “Lo Siento BB:/,” featuring Bunny and Mexican singer-songwriter Julieta Venegas, as well as “Sci-Fi,” co-starring Rauw Alejandro.
“[DATA] is a representation of who I am as a person, and as a fan of music,” Tainy tells Billboard Español. “To be able to have my own album is so special. I’m putting my everything into this, all the knowledge I’ve acquired since I started working with the people I admire.” Some of those famous folks also include established hitmakers like J Balvin, Wisin & Yandel, and Arcángel, but also brilliant upstarts like Young Miko, Ankhal, and Kris Floyd.
For nearly two decades, Tainy (real name: Marcos Efraín Masís Fernández) has been a constant force in the música urbana soundscape. He began churning out beats for reggaetón pioneers like Luny Tunes just before Daddy Yankee’s “Gasolina” (2004) took the world by storm, when he was merely 14 years old. His creative wanderlust led him to co-produce for now-icons like Yankee, Don Omar and Wisin & Yandel.
“Shout out to Tainy, the G.O.A.T., the legend … He’s somebody who I’ve looked up to since I was a teenager and my entire career,” said Billboard‘s 2022 top-charting beatmaker MAG, and the lead co-producer of Un Verano Sin Ti.
While keeping his momentum strong in the mid-’10s, Tainy eventually began talking to a then-upcoming rapper by the name of Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio — the world’s hottest superstar of today, better known as Bad Bunny — and together they would go on to make pop history. Fun fact: Tainy co-produced Bunny’s first No. 1 song on Billboard’s Hot 100, “I Like It,” alongside Balvin and Cardi B.
With a keen eye for identifying rare music gems and emerging talent, Tainy also teamed up with music exec Lex Borrero to co-create NEON16 in 2019, a “multifaceted talent incubator,” as the two describe it. “He has a very broad vision of music,” Julieta Venegas told Billboard in November. “He identifies these pairings and links his teams with artists that come from the pop, folk, and Mexican music world.”
As 2022 comes to an end, the super-producer connected with Billboard Español to reflect on his wildly successful year in music — and share exciting details about his highly-anticipated debut album.
You co-produced the greatest album of 2022, Bad Bunny’s Un Verano Sin Ti. What goes through your mind when you reflect on its extraordinary success?
It’s cool, but it’s not easy to digest when everything is happening. I’m now starting to reflect back and see the gravity of it. These are things that we never felt could be possible for us, coming from Puerto Rico and being Latin. We always felt like there was a higher level [imposed by the] Anglo market, and seeing that that doesn’t exist anymore … a lot of that has to do with Benito. It’s special to see those barriers broken. Dreaming big ends up becoming true.
This is now the new normal. Now everybody is on the same playing field. Great music is just great music in any language, in any part of the world. For [the album] to be able to connect with so many people, [it’s] special to be a part of that.
Walk us through the making of one of the hits you produced on the album, like “Ojitos Lindos.”
The whole idea [for the song] started with my younger brother Masis, who’s a producer too. He brought us an instrumental, but it was in a different style. When Benito heard it, he just heard the trumpets — which you now hear in the beginning of the track. He felt something special from it, but the sounds that came after the original instrumental was not what he had in mind. That’s where I come in. Since we have studio chemistry, I knew what he was looking for, and having this melody that my brother brought was the perfect base.
[Bunny] said it reminded him of the vibe from a song I remixed for Bomba Estéreo, “To My Love,” and he always wanted to work with Bomba. He told me, “Yo, why don’t we send this to them? Maybe they’ll like it.” His only note was, “Quiero hacer una canción bonita.” I already knew Li’s vocals would sound amazing on it. So I sent it over, and asked if she vibed with it. They responded right away that they loved it, and began working on it. Li brought exactly what he envisioned.
From there, he took it to his own world and gave it the right lyrics and vibe. The album’s aesthetic started to come into place, bringing in more beach soundscapes and ambience. That’s where I got the picture of what he was aiming for for the entirety of the project. It was really special to see two people in different places of the world not being in the same studio, but having the same mindset creatively.
Julieta Venegas mentioned in our interview that you scouted her for “Lo Siento BB:/” She praised your knowledge in the Latin indie and alternative realm. How do you discover acts outside of your usual genre?
I’ve always been a student of music. I always try to learn and branch out into different genres to see what I can learn from that and bring into my space. To be a producer, people don’t really get to see much of who I am. What do I listen to? What’s my style? What did I grow up liking? I think nowadays it’s a little bit easier to get to know the producers in their lives. Maybe people from afar think that all I listen to is reggaetón because that’s what I do. But I really listen to a lot of different types of music. Indie, rock and alternative music are styles I get [inspiration] from.
“Lento” by Julieta Venegas is one of my favorite songs of all time. I always wanted to work with her, but I didn’t think it was a possibility, seeing that our genres are so different from one another. Maybe she didn’t like the music we were doing, so that was a concern. When I started working on my personal project, I wanted it to be a reflection of who I am and what I love. I knew this song was going to be perfect for Julieta’s voice. And I wasn’t going to lose anything by reaching out. If she says she hates it, she hates it. But she loved it, and was so open to being a part of it.
This is one of the most special things that I’ve been able to do in my career. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do but didn’t think was possible — combining two of my favorite artists on the same track, and then they sound perfect together.
This year, Bad Bunny’s “Callaíta,” which you produced, surpassed one billion streams on Spotify. That’s quite an achievement…
It’s difficult to explain how it happened. I’ve always been grateful to be in the position that I am. I never thought I would get to this point at all. As I mentioned, we always had dreams about things we wanted to do, but they had a limit. Because we didn’t think it was possible for people like me — where I come from, who I am, our position in the world — and to see that I’ve been able to exceed that by a billion from what I initially thought could be possible, it just makes you feel like, this is all blessings. [I’m] just here to have a responsibility of inspiring more people that could do twice as much as what [I’ve] done. That’s the most special part for me.
Seeing that “Callaita” became what it became is insane. It’s humbling that people still connect with the song after so many years [since 2019]. You get a sense of those classic songs that you grew up listening to and still hear today, and can’t comprehend how they still connect with people after so many years. I’m happy that we were able to create a song that has stood the test of time.
So you’re dropping your debut album in early 2023!
I’ve been 100% focused on my project, and “Lo Siento BB:/” is the first single. We will be releasing the final product at the top of the year. I’m so excited for it. I’ve been dreaming of doing this album before I even got into music, because these types of projects are what inspired me to get into music.
As you might imagine, I’m working with most of the people that I’ve already worked with for a long time, and who I have a great relationship with: Benito, Jhayco, Rauw, Feid, Balvin, Wisin & Yandel, Arcángel…They have been a huge part of my career, so I wanted them to be a part of this, because they were a part of my journey. At the same time, I wanted to combine two worlds and merge this with the up-and-coming artists that I’m a fan of: Young Miko, Ankhal, Kris Floyd … all these guys, and how I brought in Julieta Venegas. [The album] shows more of who I am, and who my musical influences are.
It’s a representation of who I am as a person, and as a fan of music. To be able to have my own album is so special. I’m putting my everything into this, all the knowledge I’ve acquired since I started working with the people I admire. I can’t wait for you to listen to it, for everybody to vibe with it and get to know me a little bit more.