Farruko Proves to Be a Worthy Trap en Español Contender on ‘Trapxficante’

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At the beginning of the decade, Farruko’s melodic take on reggaeton catapulted him into superstardom. Since the release of his debut album El Talento del Bloque in 2010, the reggaetonero has often paired up with heavyweights of the Puerto Rican urban music industry (think Voltio, Zion y Lennox). But it was Farruko’s twinkling, auto-tuned falsetto and ever-present adoration for Jamaican reggae and dancehall that helped him carve his own lane in the genre.

Today, the artist embarks on a new chapter with the release of his album Trapxficante. Prefaced by the ubiquitous street banger “Krippy Kush,” featuring Rvssian and trap en español’s man of the moment Bad Bunny, it should come as no surprise that Farruko’s latest album builds on his newfound commitment to the movement.

Trapxficante opens by addressing the elephant in the room. Clips from radio and TV interviews are spliced together, creating a sort of newsreel illustrating the risks Farruko is taking when he sheds his romantic, award show-ready reggaeton in favor of a less radio-friendly, icy sound and demeanor he says is closer to his personal truth.

It’s a familiar tune; popular artist reinvents himself by taking a darker turn. Yet after a year of collaborations with trap en español pioneers like Messiah, the pivot feels like natural. Still, the decision comes with its fair share of detractors and prodding questions. As one journalist asks in the title track, “Tú te estás saliendo un poquito de tu zona de confort, a ti te va muy bien el reggaeton. Sin embargo estás aportando a este nuevo género, ¿no te da un poco de miedo eso?” Over harrowing synths and hectic hi-hats, Farruko wastes no time answering the question on wax: “Yo no se lo que es eso.”

On the heels of his Grammy-nominated project Visionary, a grandiose introduction like this is brash, but it feels necessary if we’re to believe that his longstanding flirtation with trap has become a full-blown marriage.

On Trapxficante, Farruko’s love affair with the genre isn’t limited to its harder interpretations; it includes bittersweet ballads, like the Anuel AA collab “Oscuridad.” The emphasis on trap may be explicit here, but Farruko isn’t afraid to embrace new sonic adventures either. On “Chá Chá Chá,” Farruko and cubatón pioneer Jacob Forever spin a cha cha bop, adding cooed vocals over electric Spanish guitar riffs.

“Para Acá” follows with heavy-lidded, carnal intensity. With production that feels like it could fit seamlessly into A.CHAL’s repertoire of druggy R&B, Farruko’s double-time flow is poised to inspire some moonlit misdeeds.

Elsewhere, “Losing Control,” Farru’s collaboration with Fetty Wap, feels like it’s destined to be pushed in particularly bilingual markets as a street single. Still, there’s no escaping the fact that it lacks the same level of hooky, unbridled energy that has pushed “Krippy Kush” into the highest stratospheres of musica úrbana, nor does it capture the addictive power of Fetty’s own gleeful warbles.

As a whole, the project hits the marks it intends to, even if there are a handful of crossover singles thrown in with ready-made mass appeal, like the EDM-inspired “Amanecio” or “Sueltate Tú,” which find Farruko back in more familiar waters, lending vocals over a dembow rhythm.

The emphasis, in any case, remains on his sonic shift, and opening up a new world for an artist who told Billboard he felt “reggaeton as a genre limited [him] as an artist” and “trapped [him] in a personality.” Given his history as a street storyteller, Trapxficante positions Farruko as a convincing trap contender, rather than a guest hopping on popular trend.

Farruko seems to understand that his move to el género del momento might alienate some listeners. For someone as accomplished as him, though, his trap ambitions point to a marked shift in the Latin music industry, particularly as the diaspora finds itself and its rhythms increasingly in the mainstream conversation, following the success of singles like “Despacito” and “Mi Gente.”

By shifting away from reggaeton at a time when label heads clamor for every artist on their rosters to make a paltry perreo, Farruko reiterates that “Latin Urban” is not a stationary genre. It can reinvent itself and swerve into a thousand new directions, harnessing the power to determine its own future.

Farruko’s TrapXficante is out now on Sony Music Latin.