Every artist dreads the sophomore slump. It is arguably the most pressure-laden of all outputs, whether your field is film, literature, or music. If your debut was lackluster and you somehow managed to convince any of the finicky aforementioned industries to give you a second go-round, at least you know the only way is up. If you’re fortunate enough to break out, the expectations become astronomical in the minds of fans and others paying attention. Many a name has buckled under that weight, failing to live up to the high standards of their first effort. That is to say, it’s difficult to think of an artist in el movimiento currently saddled with more high expectations than Jhay Cortez, who drops his second full-length album, Timelezz, today.
A wordsmith who has written bangers for Bad Bunny and J Balvin, and a hitmaker in his own right with chart-toppers like “No Me Conoce,” Jhay Cortez has bonafides galore and a solid rep that was only bolstered by the success of his debut album Famouz in 2019. Since then, he’s become one of the premiere artists to keep an eye on, elevating remixes he guests on and starring in some of the most cinematic music videos this side of Benito himself. All eyes (eyez?) are now on Timelezz to hear how he fares his second-time at-bat and what he’ll bring to an increasingly crowded table of artists desperate for a piece of the pie.
The answer is, surprisingly enough, half an ode-of-sorts to artists that shaped him and half a step into newer sounds he’d yet to explore before.
The opening track, “Dilema,” is a mellow intro intended to ease listeners into the proceedings. It’s followed by “Tokyo,” a song with all the telltale qualities of a Jhay Cortez rap but married to an electronic lounge beat that tempers the aggressiveness and exudes chill vibes. “Está Dejá” gets heads bobbing while sounding like a cut track from X 100pre, which is a compliment. “Ley Seca,” featuring perennial potty-mouth Anuel AA, is surprisingly the most commercial track on the album in that its poppy sound makes it seem more appropriate for the background of a Nevada tourism spot or soft drink ad rather than a sweat-drenched dancefloor.
Swooping in next is “Dale Como Es,” the first of many tracks that will reference late-aughts reggaetón hits that Jhay undoubtedly grew up with. Current single “En Mi Cuarto” boasts Skrillex on production duties and gives Jhayco a new sandbox to play in — which he does to electrifying success. “Los Rompediskoteca” and “Mi Vicio” continue the curious trend of harkening the era of perreo that was in bloom during his formative teenage years. Records and artists ranging from Sangre Nueva and Naldo to Yomo and Héctor y Tito, receive a hat tip in half a dozen songs. Hits from La Misión 4 and Flow: La Discoteka get sampled, as Héctor “El Father” gets the bulk of nostalgia play.
It’s at this halfway point that Timelezz veers into a different direction, leaning less on tried and true recipes of hasta abajo and traditional malianteo, and delving into more genre-busting sounds. An unusually subdued Kendo Kaponi serenades on “Ropa Interior,” while “Me Extraña” uncoils a slow tempo that invites you to slow dance with your closest partner of choice.
“Dile” and “Christian Dior” put a bow on the flashback appreciation songs, and after reprises of “Los Bo” and “Kobe en L.A.” We close out with one of the more interesting tracks of the entire album: “Eternamente,” which though promoted as a collaboration with Buscabulla, doesn’t actually feature Jhay’s vocals at all. Throughout, lead singer Raquel Berríos croons about the evanescence of time. “Nothing lasts forever anymore,” she laments over a melancholy beat.
By balancing his album with salutes to the music that made him the multi-faceted artist he is today and examples of just that, he sends a message. Jhay Cortez argues he’s timeless, but only because those that stepped up to the mic and paved the way before him are too.
Stream Timelezz here:
Editors Note: The article was edited to reflect the post-release track order.