Recorded in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, Bad Bunny dropped his third studio album of 2020, El Último Tour del Mundo, on the day after Thanksgiving. Home to 16 tracks, the set has a very different concept from YHLQMDLG released earlier this year. It’s alternative. It’s innovative. It’s edgy.
“This is a more sentimental album, more chill, the kind of thing you can listen to in your room,” the artist told Billboard.
With this set, Bad Bunny (real name: Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio) made history, earning his first No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart and becoming the first all-Spanish-language album to reach No. 1 in the 64-year history of the all-genre chart.
As a result, MAG (real name: Marcos Borrero) debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 Producers chart (dated Dec. 12), thanks to seven production credits including “Te Mudaste,” “Yo Visto Así,” “Haciendo Que Me Amas,” “Te Deseo Lo Mejor,” “Booker T,” “Maldita Pobreza,” and “La Droga.” He also produced “Trellas” and “Antes Que Se Acabe.”
“I’ve been in the business for over 10 years but it feels like now I’m introduced to a new group of people through my work with Benito,” he tells Billboard.
Raised in Brooklyn, New York but residing in Los Angeles, the half-Puerto Rican, half-Dominican producer has previously worked with Nicky Jam and Rauw Alejandro. “But this is the first time that a Latin artist has approached me and allowed me to take the baton of the project,” he admits. “I executive produced the album. It’s the first time that an artist trusted in me and understood my vision.”
This week, MAG, short for “magnificent,” tops the Latin Producers charts and is at No. 2 on the Latin Songwriters chart, following Bad Bunny. Below, MAG talks to Billboard about his work on El Ultimo Tour del Mundo and what its success means to the Latin culture.
Can you take us back to how you began working with Bad Bunny?
I’ve known [Bad Bunny’s manager] Noah Assad for about three years now and we had a very organic relationship. I don’t even think he knew I was a producer. We had a mutual friend and it was very organic. I never forced any music on him. That’s kind of how I work most of my relationships in this business. I think everything happens when it’s meant to happen.
During quarantine, at the beginning of COVID, I had a batch of music I had created and it was all over the place. There was nothing specific… I had rock influences, dancehall, reggaetón, and I sent it to Noah. Immediately he called me and asked me if I produced all of it. Sure enough, Benito heard everything, and a lot of what was sent on that initial pack kinda molded what the sound of the album would become. Benito was not even going to release another album, but this inspired him to create another body of work. And I think he could speak on this — it was going to be an EP, but it turned into an album.
“Yo Visto Así” was the focus track that dropped with the album, and it set the tone for the rest of it. Whose idea was it to take this musical route?
What I sent Benito wasn’t what you would expect. I sent him what I thought, in my head, he should be doing and would sound cool doing. When we got together in Puerto Rico, his ideas started forming, and I was taken back that he wanted to take this route. We tried to bend genres — we wanted to push boundaries, and we worked so hard on that. It wasn’t easy but I give credit to Benito for pushing all of us with ideas on this album.
“Maldita Pobreza” is such a great example because it was initially a trap [beat] and Benito wanted to add some ‘80s rock. I remember leaving the studio and thinking “this guy is crazy!” But I put it together. My job in the entire process was not to get in his way, but to make his vision into a music reality. We took risks, especially for a fully Spanish-language album. We wanted to experiment and we had fun making this.
“Haciendo Que Me Amas” “Te Deseo Lo Mejor” and “Maldita Pobreza,” specifically, are very alternative-heavy. I hear some Enanitos Verdes and Soda Stereo influences for sure. How did you curate this fusion?
We listened to a lot of music. Benito has an incredible taste in music. But a lot of these ideas were collaborations. Honestly, it was just having fun and gluing everything together from all of our musical influences. “Te Deseo Lo Mejor” was a last-minute song that we did for the album, and the instrumental came together so quickly — but it already fit the rest of the album. There were a lot of influences from both myself and the ideas Benito had.
You are Billboard’s top Latin producer right now. What was your initial reaction to seeing your name on the charts?
WOW! Again, I don’t make music with charts or numbers in mind, and when I saw that, I realized the importance of this album. It was more the fulfillment of the body of work and what we’ve done. When we were wrapping up the album, a few days before it went live, I remember for the first time listening to the album from top to bottom in my car as a consumer, and I got chills. I felt like this album will stand the test of time, and it’s going to inspire so many generations of kids and Latino creatives. Yes, it was wild to see my name in the Billboard charts, but more so what we accomplished as Latinos. It’s a cherry on top to be recognized for this.
El Ultimo Tour Del Mundo made history as the first all-Spanish-language album to reach No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart. What does this landmark mean for Latin music and you personally?
It makes me so happy that the biggest artist in the world is Puerto Rican. Benito is a genius-level human being and creatively, he’s the closest thing to an alien encounter that I’ve had. As creative Latinos, we could get pigeonholed in so many ways, and I would hope that this shows aspiring brown kids that they can express themselves in whatever way they want. If you want to make a rock song or do country music, go do it, because that’s the only way that we’re going to push our genre and culture forward. Latinos are here to stay and we’ve shown that. I just hope this inspires our culture in many ways to not feel pigeonholed for doing one thing because that’s the standing thing to do.
Which of the nine songs that you produced is your favorite and why?
Man, that’s hard. I can’t. I love the entire album, even the songs that I didn’t produce. I listen to the album and it changes every day based on my mood. If I’m driving, it might be “Maldita Pobreza.” If I’m having a glass of wine, it might be “La Noche de Anoche.” Honestly, I love the whole album. It changes day by day.
Which of the nine songs took the longest time to produce?
It was definitely “Trellas.” It took about two months to make. That’s a personal one for Benito. That’s the baby of the album. It took us a while because what Benito had in his mind, I had to make that into a reality. We kept working on it and working on it and working on it until we finally got it and he said “esto esta planchado,” which means “this is ready to go.” We both had our eyes closed while listening to the final playback at my studio and we both felt like we finally got it to the finish line. We didn’t settle. It couldn’t be just good. It had to be exactly what he was hearing and feeling.