What must the inside of Tainy’s head be like?
In there, past the archive of memories — all the awards and reggaeton hits since he began producing as a precocious 14-year-old kid in Puerto Rico — it’s easy to picture an infinite library of unlikely influences: a tangle of obscure anime films, cyborg fantasies, old-school hip hop beats, fine arts books, random nights in Tokyo. And then even deeper, where the synapses form, there seems to be a bottomless abyss that Tainy constantly pulls from, turning abstractions into refined experiments that have pushed the genre, and Latin music, boldly into the future. It’s likely that a lot of Tainy’s more complex, stranger ideas have only existed in this interior realm, locked and inaccessible from fans —until Data.
The album, Tainy’s first as a solo artist, feels like downloading the deepest contents of the super-producer’s brain and seeing his creative process directly in front of you. A loose concept ties the project together: Tainy has invented the story of Sena, a pink-haired android who he brings to life through Data’s stunning and surprising collection of active, amoebic songs. In lesser hands, the approach may have come off too heady or cerebral, but Tainy has a way of making nerd shit endlessly cool — and it helps that the tracks here are crystalline creations — some club-ready, others full of intrigue and nostalgia — that push a roster of star artists far outside their comfort zone.
No one does what they’re expected to do on Data. The genius of Tainy’s past work is that it’s a treatise between him and other artists, a meeting point that helps the acts he’s working with achieve what they want on their own albums. Here, Tainy can do exactly what he dreams up: Yes, that’s Sech on an emo ballad and Arcangel on a bubbly hit that sounds like it time-traveled from the Eighties. And yes, he did splice a Four Tet sample into a track with Skrillex and Rauw Alejandro. It’s fascinating to think of the album as thoughts that swirled in Tainy’s head as he sat in the studio watching his collaborators, imagining wild scenarios to put them and tucking ideas away for himself. When he’s free to do exactly what he feels like doing, the results are brilliant.
Ideas are one thing, but execution is another — and the entire project reaffirms why Tainy has been a sought-out collaborator for everyone from Bad Bunny to Rosalia to Dua Lipa to Shawn Mendes. He’s meticulous and precise, finding the exact texture for the right moment. His reputation explains Data’s star power: Bad Bunny appears a total of three times, on “Lo Siento BB :/,” plus on the techno-fused “Mojabi Ghost” and on a swaggering verse that ends “Pasiempre.” Daddy Yankee, meanwhile, soars out of retirement for “La Baby.” Pop darlings Julieta Venegas and Kany Garcia slide into the mix, speaking even more to Tainy’s unexpected, mad scientist approach on the project. But the biggest triumph is that each song feels like it’s own ride, guided by production that takes risks. These cuts never end up where you think they might. Songs like “Si Preguntas Por Mi” are sharp, infused with a hint of longing and an eye toward the future.
Data was three years in the making, fluctuating over periods of creative blocks and pauses. All the while, the genre Tainy helped steer as a teenager kept ballooning, becoming bigger and more global by the day. So much of that speaks to Tainy’s preternatural skills as a producer, but his music does fall into a market that feels completely oversaturated. Luckily, his songs feel like plucked jewels — some shinier than others, but still valuable in a market with so few rarities. They’re special enough to bring not just Sena to life, but to wake up a whole genre and a world of listeners as well.