Yandel Chases a Pop Crossover With Reggaeton Roots on ‘Dangerous’

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As a veteran of the industry, Yandel has become a celebrated superstar in the reggaeton world, along with his partner in crime Wisin. With his third solo effort Dangerous released this week, Yandel attempts to diversify his repertoire by recruiting a bevy of guests to help serve as ambassadors to their respective musical worlds.

While Yandel is no stranger to appearing on American artists’ work (with Wisin, he’s done features for everyone from 50 Cent to Paris Hilton), Dangerous marks the first of his own releases to more actively put reggaeton in dialogue with English-language urban genres. Though U.S. stars like French Montana, Pitbull, and Lil Jon (on a trap EDM remix of lead single “Calentura”) all make appearances on the guest-heavy set (the collaborations make up slightly over half of its running time), they are joined by reggaeton royalty like Tego Calderon and De La Ghetto to ensure the vibe doesn’t stray too far from what loyal fans would expect from the stalwart Yandel.

Of the U.S. influences, the most noteworthy comes from Future’s appearance on “Mi Combo (Spiff TV).” Future drops a verse and provides his signature auto-tuned wailing to accentuate Yandel’s vocals, and the instrumental is indeed a tasty combination of trap and classic dembow. Despite the crossover appeal, many of the best collaborations on Dangerous come from more traditional sources; “No Sales de Mi Mente,” a duet with Nicky Jam, seems primed for widespread success in a post-R. City & Adam Levine landscape. Elsewhere, Yandel pairs up with Calderon on “Yo Soy del Barrio” for a vibrant ode to the hood that could definitely turn the block up.

Yandel is also capable of holding down the fort by himself on tracks like “Fantasía,” which recalls much of his vintage work with Wisin y Yandel, and the Nesty-produced “Somos Uno,” a pulsing EDM pop song preaching unity that feels straight out of a Calvin Harris album.

It’s clear Yandel is ready to pursue success beyond his signature sound, but perhaps at not quite the same degree of wild abandon that say, Prince Royce took with Double Vision. While it’s commendable that Yandel would strive for loyalty to his roots while also tip-toeing toward other urban genres, some of the designs here seem half-hearted. Reworking a solid, clearly Latin-styled pop song like “Mi Mente” into a Spanglish version for English-lanugage radio – much like Justin Bieber and J. Balvin recently did on “Sorry (Latin Remix)” – might be a preferable route for Yandel to secure heavy airplay across multiple markets.