In a society where everything has to fit into one neat category, what happens when someone wants to explore the in between? Perhaps Romeo Santos has the answer.
Recently, the bachatero revealed that his second album will have eclectic influences through which he is bound to find new sounds to incorporate into his work. This Feb.25, expect Drake, Nicki Minaj, Santana, Marc Anthony and Kevin Hart under a roof called “Formula Vol. 2.”
Romeo Santos was born in the Bronx, a wellspring of hip-hop and Latin music, and the starting point of his former band “Aventura,” credited for modernizing traditional bachata through the addition of RnB and Hip-Hop.
Although the group altered the sound, it was still bachata at its core and so it wasn’t until 2011 — start of his solo career — when the singer truly experimented with and altered his music. A bold move for someone known as “The King of Bachata.”
His debut album, “Formula Vol. 1,” was mostly bachata, but had two songs that left audiences shocked. “Magia Negra” feat. Spanish rapera La Mala Rodriguez and “Rival” feat. Mario Domm from the Mexican pop-band Camila.
“Magia Negra” was a hard core EDM track and “Rival” a soft pop-ballad. Many weren’t thrilled with these tunes because they felt those weren’t songs Romeo should be doing. The Chicago Tribune even called them “less-than-convincing detours.”
It’s true that they strayed so far from his signature sound that we felt we were listening to a completely different artists, but people this is called evolution and it’s necessary for the growth of any artist. Those songs are not bad, in fact they are quite amazing (I’ve been listening to “Rival” on repeat for 6 hours straight).
Thankfully, Romeo is smart and won’t let a couple of disapprovals defeat him, after all, change comes with criticism until people slowly alter their perspective and open their minds (ears in this case) to new possibilities. If they didn’t then Shakira would still only be doing rock-influenced songs in Spanish, Katy Perry only Christian music and “Aventura” only traditional bachata.
Here is the first taste of “Formula Vol. 2” with “Odio” featuring Drake singing in Spanish and doing a swift rap towards the end. The song smoothly combines the sensuality of RnB with the danceable melody of bachata.
With the rest of the album, definitely expect Santos to be even more experimental than in on his first project. I suspect with Anthony he’ll do a happy upbeat song and with Minaj a coarser tune perhaps with a reggae infusion — on her instagram she put a video where she raps in Spanish, this could very well be a sneak peek of their duet!
With Santana it’s hard to tell what road they’ll choose since the Mexican guitarist has done collaborations in all genres, but something like “Maria Maria” would be be great! Finally, with Kevin Hart he will most likely do a comedic intro like he did with Gorge Lopez in “Vol.1.”
With this new album, Romeo has a lot of risks but just as many opportunities. If done correctly it can please his old fans, introduce bachata to non-Hispanic audiences through the help of Drake and Minaj, and help him get closer to a crossover title. Most importantly, it will also get his old fans to slowly get accustomed to (perhaps even fall in love with) the idea of the singer expanding his musical repertoire. It is clear that Romeo can do so much more than bachata and although that will most likely remain his primary genre, there is no reason why he can’t find inspiration in other places.
Friends it’s 2014, there is no longer neat categories so why not let Romeo take you to the in between with “Formula Vol. 2?”
Should Romeo keep doing such eclectic songs and duets, or should he just stick to bachata? Share your thoughts in the comments below.