“Nibiru began as science fiction,” Ozuna tells Apple Music about his third and most ambitious album yet. Where the Puerto Rican música urbana star’s 2017 debut, Odisea, took us on a VIP trip around the world and its 2018 follow-up, Aura, prompted a more inward-facing journey, Nibiru grandly embarks on an endeavor into the uncertainty of the cosmos, where concerns of the heart still matter even in a galaxy far, far away. While a space-opera concept guides the singer/trapper’s artistic vision here—with our reggaetonero protagonist crash-landing on the strange titular planet—the project speaks to romantic concerns quite familiar to us humble earthlings. It’s evident on tracks like “Amor Genuino,” an empyrean ballad that captures a sense of longing brought on by distance, metaphorical or otherwise.
“I’m always looking for a new sound with my producers, and I keep going for that new thing,” Ozuna says of his musical aspirations in making Nibiru, a process that took him out of the traditional studio confines as he recorded on the road, often in hotel rooms while touring in support of Aura. Though some of the urbano scene’s finest practitioners are on board for this otherworldly effort (including hitmakers like DJ Luian and Mambo Kingz on the smash “Baila Baila Baila” and Chris Jeday and Gaby Music for the ebb-and-flow nuances of “Fantasía”), Ozuna pushes his sonic palette while still satisfying his fans’ love for dembow, reggaetón lento, and Latin R&B.
Ozuna’s wide-ranging choice of guests presents a unified front across genres: He partners with Puerto Rican reggae veteran Willy Rodriguez of Cultura Profética for the swaying balladic duet “Temporal,” its dubwise flourishes underlying fraught emotionality. An instantly recognizable callback in this age of interpolations, the DJ Snake-helmed “Eres Top” revives the 2002 Bad Boy classic “I Need a Girl, Pt. 2,” with none other than Diddy himself dropping a rare feature to mark the occasion. And the mutual admiration Ozuna has with Swae Lee and Sech is clear on “Sin Pensar” and “Yo Tengo una Gata,” respectively.