Grammy-winning rapper Residente has some new collaborators on his upcoming album: scientists.
The Puerto Rican performer says he studied intensely with professors at Yale University and New York University to read brain patterns in worms, mice, monkeys, fruit flies and even hitmaker Bad Bunny to create his second solo project.
He says the album is “going to be about everything that I have inside of my head …. Because of that, I kept brainstorming, and I said, ‘Oh, I have to study my brain, and then I have to study other people’s brains, and then I have to study animals’ brains.’ ”
Daniel Alfonso Colón-Ramos, an associate professor of neuroscience at Yale, says Residente spent days at the school doing research.
“We were joking that at that we should give him a diploma,” Colón-Ramos says.
They performed electroencephalograms on worms to track and record brain waves.
“Without harming the animals, we can actually see as the animal is thinking as it’s moving, as it’s exploring its environment,” Colón-Ramos says. “We can see individual cells talking into each other. It turns out when these cells, when these neurons talk to each other, they’re using rhythms to communicate — we call it rhythms of activity. But, at the end of the day, those rhythms can be turned into music.”
The yet-untitled album is set to be released in November.
Residente — born René Juan Pérez Joglar — worked with Suzanne Dikker, a senior research scientist in NYU’s psychology department, to use EEGs on himself and Bad Bunny to produce the album’s first single, “Bellacoso.”
The song marks a return to Residente’s reggaeton roots. The collaboration with Bad Bunny, born Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio, came as a surprise. Residente, 41, is known to rap about politics, social justice and related topics and has been critical of the younger generation of Latin trap stars, as well as the popularity of the reggaeton sound.
“I wanted to prove to the people that, even though we are different in certain ways, we can connect with each other with our brain frequencies,” Residente says. “For my fan base, they are very hardcore fans, and I know they don’t understand why I’m collaborating with Benito, even though he’s huge. Because of the things that I stand for and other stuff, the way I write lyrics, I wanted to show them that, even though we’re different, we can connect.
“As a human being, I like him,” he says of Bad Bunny, 25, who has become a breakout star around the world, with multiple hit songs, even selling out New York’s Madison Square Garden. “It was like working with a little brother.”
Residente says that, during the EEG, he and Bad Bunny “were watching a woman dance, we were drinking, they were capturing those frequencies.
Residente is a member of the alternative hip-hop band Calle 13 and is the most decorated act in the history of the Latin Grammys, with 24 wins. He also has four Grammy Awards.
His new song’s release comes after he was part of the massive protests against Puerto Rican Gov. Ricardo Rossello, who announced his resignation following a series of controversies.
The colorful music video for “Bellacoso” — which starts with a group of men and women twerking in thongs — includes models of various sizes and skin tones.
Residente says diversity in music and film “is always important.”