In 2024, it’s fair to say música urbana has grown ubiquitous in pop. Reggaeton, with its repeating dembow flow, now coexists with merely every genre, but its intrinsic roots in hip-hop have paved the way for a small handful of breakout stars – one of the best examples being Eladio Carrión.
His 2023 record “3MEN2 KBRN,” a cut-to-the-point rap set, included features with everyone from 50 Cent, Lil Wayne and Future to Bad Bunny and Myke Towers. It became the Puerto Rican rapper’s defining mark in the press for the way it captured a new and synergetic wave of Latin trap. Plus, his and Bunny’s fiery “Coco Chanel” granted Carrión his first Latin Grammy win.
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On his latest release, “Sol María,” Carrión opens with a pop-trap song called “Bendecido.” He sounds the most confident, and his usual boasts (“They best thing I did was learn to take all my L’s / Cause those L’s are my income”) sound polished in a beat produced by Rance1500 (Grammy winner for best rap song for Roddy Rich’s “The Box”), Nasa, G.O.K.B. and Hide Miyabi (Bad Bunny, Lil Uzi Vert, Chris Brown). It’s the first taste of a stacked lineup of producers that translates to an equally assorted mix of sounds and themes that remain anchored in deep 808 basslines and hi-hat rolls.
“Sol María,” with its album art and name referencing Carrión’s mother, is meant to be a celebration of his life up to this point. He pens apologetic and gracious tributes to Sol María on the tender “Mama’s Boy” where he thanks her for keeping him away from “porquerías y las ‘gangsterias’” (loosely translating to “drugs and the ‘gangster’ lifestyle”) despite his need to be rebellious. He exerts that rebellion on songs like “Mencionar,” which is essentially a slow-paced Travis Scott song, produced by DVLP, who has worked on beats for Rick Ross, Cam’ron and Eminem.
Carrión delivers dreamier moments in the happy-go-lucky “La Canción Feliz Del Disco,” and the R&B-inspired but EDM-driven “Tanta Droga.” On the tropical reggae “Sigo Enamorau’” with Yandel, he samples Sean Paul’s 2002 hit “I’m Still in Love With You.” He also interpolates the Roots (“You Got Me”) on the sultry “Tranquila Baby,” and regularly reminds us he’s enjoying his riches on anthems like “Todo Lit.”
Carrión is a chameleon of a person. He gained an early following by posting funny videos online and also has a past as a professional swimmer. When he flexes his dexterity with a method or story in mind for his music, the results can be impressive. And although there is a lot to digest on “Sol María,” Carrión doesn’t abandon the sound that made him stand out with his first “Sauce Boyz” volume in 2020. This isn’t an album where Carrión is reinventing himself or his artistic image — instead, he opts to build and keeps his listeners entertained while doing so.
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