Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Evolution of Wisin Y Yandel

Mix in Wisin’s harsh, yet sexy raps and Yandel’s melodic, sensual vocals, and there you have Latino urban perfection. For those of you who may not have heard of Wisin Y Yandel or reggeaton in general, just take a cup of hip-hop, add hot salsa beats, mix, and sprinkle some more Latin spice and there you have reggeaton.

Along with Daddy Yankee and Tito “El Bambino,” Wisin Y Yandel have taken the mostly-all-Spanish world of reggeaton across the border to American mainstream. Their early works, such as Los Reyes del Nuevo Milenio (“The Kings of the New Millennium”) to their underground classic De Otra Manera “(The Other Way”) showed great potential, if not some mildly cheap production. It was their breakthrough album, 2005’s Pa’l Mundo (“For the World”) that took them from unknowns to the duo of the new century.

Since then, their albums and songs have broken records not only in Latin America, but the United States of America. Now the dynamic duos new album La Evolucion not only broke the record of the highest debut for an all-Spanish album on the Billboard pop album charts (debuting at #7) it also won a Latin Grammy. Though, this time, they have had a little help. This album doesn’t mark the first time Wisin Y Yandel have worked with established artist, but it’s perhaps the best reggeaton album to include so many guest stars.

Daddy Yankee’s attempt to cross over with his El Cartel: The Big Boss album, collaborating with “safe” artists such as Fergie and Nicole Scherzinger turned out to be a semi-flop, simply because it’s one thing to work with weak artists, it’s another thing to work with weak artists who have nothing to do with you. One thing Wisin Y Yandel avoided doing on La Evolucion was just that. Ivy Queen, Aventura, T-Pain, and Enrique Igleasias guest star on the album, but they can be linked some what easily to reggeaton.

A unique reggeaton record, as it isn’t just 10% radio-friendly singles and 90% filler, the album has many future classics. The best track on the album, “Besos Mojado,” (“Wet Kisses”) produced with long-time collaborators Luny Tunes, works in so many ways. It’s chilling and erotic, sexy and seductive, slow, yet rhythmic. The song takes you to the blue-lit dancefloor with your lover and makes you wish the music would never end. Along the same line, songs like “Tu Vives En Mi” (“You Live in Me”) and “Emociones” (“Emotions”) cross the bounds of soft electronica and reggeaton-lite. Among others, these songs truly show the evolution of Wisin Y Yandel.

It wouldn’t be a reggeaton album without the actual club-floor killers, and this album doesn’t disappoint. “Encendio” ("Turned On") and “Abusadora” ("Abuser") both explore conventional reggeaton sounds of classic Wisin Y Yandel such as “Rakata, “Pam Pam Pam” and “Noche de Sexo” (“Night of Sex”) that we all know and love Wisin Y Yandel for. “Pasan Los Dias” (“Pass the Days”) and “Imaginarte” (“Imagine You”) are simple enough, but still have enough umph to move you on the floor. And that’s what Wisin Y Yandel are best at, getting you into the Latin groove.

While among kings of reggeaton, Wisin Y Yandel excel on the Latin-styled ballad “Cómo Quieres Que Te Olvide?" ("How Do You Want Me To Forget You?"). The song may not be typical style of the reggeatoneros, but they definitely can put the needed emotion in the ballad. On the other hand, their duet with Enrique Iglesias, the pop-ballad “Gracias a Ti” (“Thanks to You”) simply doesn’t work. A tribute to the fans, it’s more mock-ish and lackluster than sensitive and beautiful.

Only a few times does the duo stumble like this on the album, most notably on the album’s first single “Mujeres in the Club” (“Women in the Club”). What’s wrong is that the song is hip-hop, there isn’t an element of reggeaton to it. What’s also missing is a melody, or for that matter, an actual hook. Thinking that 50 Cent would allow a crossover was wise, just wasn’t well planned. “Quítame El Dolor” (“Take Away My Pain”) probably takes the place as second worst. As opposed to taking away pain, it’s more likely you’ll be singing “I don’t want to take this pain.” There is just too much going on, and yet there is no creative craft to it. And last, but not least, “All Up 2 You” featuring Aventura and Akon, in terms of this track, all I can say is: it isn’t, it wasn’t, it ain’t never gonna be.

True, the album does have slumps, but the evolution still continues on. Perhaps the group’s darkest album, La Evolucion still retains its sensitivity, along with heart and romance. There are some skipables on the LP, but name one reggeaton album except Daddy Yankee's Barrio Fino that doesn’t have some.

The duo stated that the album was going to be an “old-school” record, and though that goal wasn’t met whatsoever, as the album is as modern and contemporary as you can get, it meets the goal of being one of 2009’s best reggeaton album, along with Tito “El Bambino’s” El Patron. Similar to Daddy Yankee, the group is responsible not only for the evolution of reggeaton, but its revolution. With their latest LP, they only disappoint at times, but at the end of the day, with La Evolucion you still have that idea that yes, reggeaton can, and it will do it better and sexier than other genres.

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