Reggaeton, as we know it today, is relatively fresh in comparison to separate mainstream musical genres. By the sight of the supporters stretched outside of Tainy and Yandel’s DYNASTY press conference at the PUMA Flagship Store on 5th Avenue — its global relevance is visibly underscored.
The chart-topping pair have individually made strides toward the perreo phenomenon that comprehensively bests English-language pop stars’ revenue growth. Both award-winning composers hail from La Isla del Encanto — the U.S. colony of Puerto Rico. Their decade-spanning trajectories spear Afro-Boricua commercialized sounds originally bestowed by Panamanian lyricists in the ’90s.
Now, the newly released 9-track recording, DYNASTY, had editors (myself included) imitating the duo’s 18-second journalist-backed EP introduction. With cell phones and handheld recorders raised, questions flew from PUMA’s sneaker-lined walls about Tainy and Yandel’s championship-themed tracklist. The self-titled opener, “DYNASTY,” precedes any riddims with Yandel affirming, “…it’s 16 years of hard work, a lot of sacrifice, and winning multiple championships. That’s why I feel like we’re a dynasty.” Tainy follows the singer’s sentiment by adding, “I think we can do it one more time.” This sporting metaphor is packaged throughout all creative aspects of their studio design.
And with that audio manifestation, “Una Más,” the Rauw Alejandro-assisted slow wine strain invigorates Tainy’s acclaimed production. The dancing newcomer’s increasing demand symmetry the past-meets-present execution reggaeton audiences stream into the multi-millions. Tainy and Yandel’s preceding DYNASTY music videos, “DEJA VU” and “SI TE VAS,” featuring SAINt JHN, do the same.
Yandel, the principal voice on the Spanglish project, formerly of the legendary tandem, Wisin y Yandel, has rightly evolved within el movimiento. As a soloist, he has maintained his footing and cultural RIAA-certified relevance. Previous tropical-tinged hits include “Encantadora,” as later collab smashes like “CANCIÓN CON YANDEL,” alongside Bad Bunny, assure the new generation’s continued respect. There is a long-lasting balance among demographics today. On DYNASTY, songs including “HÁBLAME CLARO” source the nostalgic aura of classic Borikén bops.
The youngest OG, Tainy, marries the motifs of purists such as bomba, hip-hop, and dancehall to pop elements of on-the-rise reggaeton guides. As the Luny Tunes’ protégé, he has spent the majority of his life perfecting platinum-selling beats. Further, Tainy’s pounder-loving fanbase is not solely Spanish-speaking, nor is he. The bilingual international figure has become as esteemed as the resistance music he forms by way of Caribbean tradition.
His cross-genre catalog is uncontested, and Tainy is the contemporary producer to outdo. The keyboard wizard’s seamless transitions on push-back-on-it songs like, “CÁMARA LENTA,” are not sloppily pierced against momentous vocals. Tainy forms no gimmicks. He possesses the skills to execute trap, boogaloo, rock, or whatever beat he desires next. DYNASTY, while brief, is sonically true to histories once barred from the mainland and administratively censored on the island.
Subtle resonances and signature call-outs such as “tra, tra, tra,” pay homage to the retro predecessors who fought for Tainy’s current artistic freedom. The luminary’s recollection of melodies from the Mas Flow era — to his recent Hot 100 crowning triumphs — responsibly drive environing Latinx dialogue near Yandel. The Knockturnal sat down with the reggaeton leads to talk DYNASTY sessions, NEON 16, and their collaborative legacies. Familiarize yourself with their latest movimiento poetics now.
The Knockturnal: Your new song “SI TE VAS” with SAINt JHN was released. How was your time recording in the studio?
Yandel: Look, it was one that I had fun recording in the studio. It has a real fresh rhythm. I love the beat. It is like an Afrobeat. That style of music.
The combination with SAINt JHN was interesting because I believe he is one of the ones who is starting to pressure [the industry]. He is hitting hard. I love his vibe. “SI TE VAS” is one of the songs that has a refreshing style.
The Knockturnal: You won a championship in the “DEJA VU” music video. When was the first time you felt like you were winning musically?
Tainy: I would say, just to keep it in [perspective], having Yandel listen to one of my beats and say that he liked it. To me, that was the highest [achievement]. That was my dream. So, that was my first championship.
From getting signed by Luny Tunes, who were my idols — then the next day having Yandel give me a chance and listen to my music — was like, “I made it.” I couldn’t even [wrap my mind around it]. At that time, I was happy. To see what has happened from that point until today is amazing.
That is why we created this album with the feeling of DYNASTY. There are so many feelings of championships, and you know, celebrations. We just wanted to celebrate with music.
The Knockturnal: For you to be so young, you have so many years under your belt already.
Tainy: Thank God! [Laughs]
The Knockturnal: What do you want your global fans to know about Puerto Rico?
Yandel: Well, look, the rich food is what I want them to know about Puerto Rico. Rice, beans, and pork chops. [Laughs] Also, I like the beaches. I love them. I believe that Puerto Rico’s beaches are spectacular.
The people! The people of Puerto Rico are super sweet. When you get there, you feel the warmth that comes from them. Our culture! The reggaeton.
The Knockturnal: What do you want the world to know about NEON 16?
Tainy: I want them to know that we are here to try and push our culture as Latinos. And not just in music. People know me for music, but in everything that we do, I want to keep evolving. [NEON 16 is] helping the evolution of music and the business side of the music.
Whatever we can do at the moment in time, as a collective with creative ideas, is what we want to bring forward. We help people see. We are here to shift the times.
The Knockturnal: You are a veteran. What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment?
Yandel: For me, in music, winning awards has always been very important. I remember when I won my first Grammy with Tainy. When I won my Grammy as el duo de la historia (the duo of history), I felt super happy.
One of my achievements that required hard work was when I went as a soloist. Because then I had to compete with Wisin y Yandel. Being able to win a Grammy as a soloist as well as what we achieved [as a pair] was one of those things.
The Knockturnal: What does “Fear Nothing – Impact Everything” mean to you?
Tainy: We tend not to do a lot of things or change our paths because of fear. The fear of failing. The fear of what people might say. That is nothing that we have in our mindset.
We like going with what we love. We know what we want to do, and it is what it is! Whether we make it or not [numerically,] we are going to do our thing.
The Knockturnal: What do you want your fans to know about the album DYNASTY?
Yandel: [The album] includes music that is very interesting, because there you are going to see all of the years worked together with Tainy. All of that veteran [work] is now reflected there on the project. I want you to pay attention — and listen to the music well — so that you can see these are hits.
The Knockturnal: Do you have a favorite song?
Yandel: Well, I like “UNA MÁS” with Rauw Alejandro and “DEJA VU,” which was our first single. I like them all. [Laughs] They each have their own vibe. They are all different. I do not have a song that kills me the most because they all kill for me. I like them! Yes, I like them.
The Knockturnal: You began with the Luny Tunes around 15. How does it feel to be the producer credited for making reggaeton global?
Tainy: It’s crazy. I started with the Luny Tunes. They were my idols and still are. They were my inspiration. For them to give me the opportunity when I was 14 or 15 years old — and to see how I have been able to continue what they started, is a huge honor. I never dreamed it would happen [this way]. To be here, I just want to keep making them proud.
The Knockturnal: How do you want to be remembered?
Yandel: As a legend, for real. [I want fans to] remember me as a great person — as a young man who went all out for a genre — and we brought it to this level.
Tainy: I want to be somebody who helped change the movement that we were living in. I do not wish to be someone who is passed through in history. To not be able to say that something happened because of this person [would be unfortunate].
They will know things changed because of Tainy — what he was doing and what he believed in. That is what I want people to remember about me, my music. So, it will stand the test of time. I want to help get this to a place we have never imagined.
Editor’s note: Parts of this interview have been translated from Spanish to English.