Don Omar, Luny Tunes and Wisin Y Yandel Bring the “Sandunga” With New Single
Have we suddenly been transported back to the 2000s? Looking at the state of reggaetón right now, it might seem that way. From Baby Rasta Y Gringo recently releasing a masterclass in the genre, Chencho linking up with Wisin for the banger “Loco X Perrearte,” and Tainy making his teachers proud by continuing to push the limits of perreo, there is plenty of new reggaetón for fans to be excited about. Now, Luny Tunes are back with “Sandunga,” a brand new single that dropped on Nov. 2 and reaches deep into their bag of beats to remind you just how big of a role they played in making reggaetón what it is today. And acho man, it’s heavy.
While the word sandunga can have different connotations in different parts of Latin America, in Puerto Rico it is an Africanismo that signifies the essence of the party. It is that essential raw, boisterous attitude that characterizes both the music and the people dancing along to it. It’s an important term that can’t be separated from reggaetón and harkens all the way back to its roots. While artists like Pink Pablo, Gyanma, and RaiNao continue to play with the boundaries of genre and innovate in PR, the island is also experiencing a renaissance of old school reggaetón. And clearly, that’s driven by increasing commercialization and a kind of loss of identity.
“Sandunga” is Luny Tunes’s way of acknowledging that and is the first track off the upcoming EP “Don Omar Presenta Back to Reggaeton.”So, as you can imagine, a song named “Sandunga” has expectations weighing on it. Then, you add the fact that Luny Tunes calls in heavy hitters Don Omar and Wisin y Yandel to deliver on the promise of the anticipated EP. Fortunately, “Sandunga” not only delivers on its promise, it proves that legends never die, and neither does that old school sound.
Right out of the gate, “Sandunga” lets listeners know this isn’t going to be another mainstream/pop-e-ton track through its use of some chopped-up samples (in this case from “Sandunga” itself) and a sinister-sounding synth. Once Don Omar comes in with a call-and-response chorus that includes the moaning woman trope so common in 2000s reggaetón, it becomes clear that the perreo vibe is in full effect. For his part, Don channels his rougher persona con la voz ronca, practically screaming into the mic with his aggy voice on full. It makes sense for a high-energy chorus that features lines like “vamos a matarnos pa’l oscuro,” and he keeps that same energy for the entirety of his verse.
Wisin, who has been on a tear as of late, raps like he has something to prove. Over two verses, he melodizes and switches flows and rhyme schemes effortlessly. In between those verses, of course, we get a Yandel bridge and verse where he demonstrates that, when it comes to rhyme and melody, very few can do it better. And while some could argue that no one listens to perreo for the lyrics, these legends find ways to interject freshness into their rhymes, even when singing about parties and women for what might be the millionth time.
Now, let’s talk about the bass. To say the bass is heavy is an understatement. Luny Tunes have always loved to utilize multiple dembows throughout a track and “Sandunga” features four distinct ones that I was able to catch: a traditional known by Panamanians as Tumpa Tumpa, one that swaps the snare for a clave, one using only kick drums, and another that extends the usually two hits of snare for three. What’s most impressive is the way Luny Tunes are able to take the formulas of yesteryear, a formula that might sound dated in lesser hands, and still uncover layers of depth within that framework.
“Sandunga” isn’t an imitation of their early work, nor is its value tied intrinsically to nostalgia and a stroll down memory lane – it’s a modern perreo that takes elements of la vieja escuela and evolves them to today’s standards.
Is it “the best reggaetón track in recent times” as Don Omar stated while promoting the track? Probably not. But that’s a good thing because there has been so much good reggaetón as of late that the competition is just too stacked to back up that declaration. But, while its place in the pantheon of perreo hits is up for debate, “Sandunga” does the most important thing a lead single can do: get fans hyped for what’s to come.