The year is 2005.
A sixteen-year-old boy from San Juan, Puerto Rico is listening to Blink 182 on the radio while playing on his Nintendo 64. Video games are only a piece of this kid’s passion. Anime, video games, basketball and skateboarding are also an interest to him. His true calling?
His name is Marco Masís and these are the influences that make up the world’s #1 Latin producer, Tainy.
Tainy went on to create homemade beats with the program FruityLoops, now known at FL Studios, which eventually landed in the ears of producer, Nely; a name Latin audiences are very familiar with. Nely mentored Tainy and set him up with Luny Tunes, another trailblazer in the game.
And so it begins.
At the young age of sixteen, Tainy co-produced Mas Flow; a staple to what many critics and audiences alike refer to as a true classic reggaeton album. This was a gateway for what was to come. In particular, Tainy formed a tight bond with the duo Wisin & Yandel leading to the birth of their now long-standing relationship and delivered career-defining hits including the experimental La Revolucion. This allowed Tainy to do what he had been yearning for so long. To take things one-step further now that reggaeton had established a heartbeat. The album was well received and undoubtedly made him a force to be reckoned with.
Tainy’s fresh takes on beats, samples, and melodies set the tone of who he was as an artist. Leading him into back-to-back victory laps in the decade to come.
In the 2010s, Tainy continued to work. A lot. He co-produced for top acts like Arcangel, Jowell & Randy, Ivy Queen, Zion & Lennox, Ricky Martin, Romeo Santos and more. Although his creative choices weren’t always welcomed, many acts wanted to stick to the “original” sound. This did not discourage him; he persisted and continued to push boundaries while the genre was evolving over time. Like any true visionary, Tainy may even be considered ahead of his time.
Fast forward to the second half of the decade: Reggaeton has surged as the number one Latin genre. Audiences across the globe have welcomed it whether they understand the language or not. Who better to helm the sound and steer in the right direction? Together with Anuel AA, already pioneering the Latin Trap movement, they both raised the bar even further. He moved on to his next venture: J Balvin. As the former was gaining huge momentum in his career with Vibras, an album that dominated charts along with making J. Balvin a household name due to the smash, Mi Gente.
Tainy as co-producer was right by his side rising to the top.
2018 dealt a great hand to him. He also co-produced the inescapable “I Like It” by rap sensation Cardi B, also featuring J. Balvin and Bad Bunny. The song was a massive success and reached the masses globally. To top-off the year, he co-produced X 100PRE, Bad Bunny’s debut album, making him Reggaeton’s next global superstar. Between the three artists, Tainy had reached the holy grail of producing and undoubtedly become the #1 sought after Latin producer in the market, while also entering 19 entries on the Hot 100 Latin chart
How’s that for a good sign?
Tainy’s hustle became unmatched while setting himself up to an explosive start for 2020. While, COVID-19 took the world by storm at the start of this year abrupt changes occurred at every turn. Tainy just settled in Miami and found himself working in a way he hadn’t been able to in a while due to an airtight schedule. “It was kind of nostalgic to sit in my room and create any random ideas that came to mind.” Despite the inability to connect with artists physically, he continues to work remotely.
His work paid off once again: taking a notable seat in the production for YHLQMDLG by Bad Bunny, which debut at number one. The success didn’t stop there as he was able to put the finishing touch on global superstars Rosalia and Travis Scott’s instant hit “TKN.” He’s also working on upcoming projects and dropped music with NEON16 artist Dylan Fuentes on the breakout Colombian star’s sophomore single “MENTE” alongside Mau Y Ricky and in the studio with up and comer Kris Floyd.
Continuing to collect accolades of success and creative freedom, The superstar producer was able to confirm with Contrast that he is working with J Balvin on new music: “there are a couple of things that are going to be released in the next few months, I can say!” He also continued with offering us exclusives on how In addition to the new music he is already a part of with these up and comers, he’ll be producing Dylan Fuentes and Kris Floyd’s upcoming singles
In 2019, Tainy teamed up with former music executive Lex Borrero, to form the talent incubator and label NEON16. After building an intimate roster, the label released Tainy’s debut concept EP “THE KIDS THAT GREW UP ON REGGAETON” in early 2020, putting fresh talent into the spotlight. The roster is still in the development stages and Tainy is okay with his “inner group” circle. He aims “to invest as much time as possible to help artists grow and achieve their career goals,” highlighting talents such as Dylan Fuentes and Kris Floyd, explaining how he instantly “connected” with them.
For NEON16, he hopes to continue to drive the Latin music culture and be seen as an equal amongst the rest, on a global scale. “I want to keep making more opportunities not just for me, but for other producers, songwriters and artists with NEON16.” Citing Kanye West as a huge inspiration as both producer and artist, Tainy is not looking into the Latin market but also expecting to continue the cross over into the mainstream market. ‘Kanye has been such a huge inspiration ever since I started. One, because he is such an amazing producer and also because he is also one of my favorite artists. One of my favorites for sure.'”
Creating NEON16 is exactly what Tainy needed to cement his legacy. Ready to show the world who he is. a true creator moving from a production credit to the main attraction. Tackling music at full force and to create that classic album. Free to make his own rules. It’s safe to say: Tainy’s prime time has just begun
FULL INTERVIEW BELOW
How have you been coping with COVID-19 and what changes have been made to adjust to it?
It’s been a process like for anybody being held inside your home. Trying to not go outside; your usual day life like seeing friends and that sort of thing. It’s been a process, but at the same time it gives you time to just realize all the little things you didn’t have the time to do or couldn’t do. Because of the daily work life and all that.
Going back to my earlier days when I was younger, I could do things like I used to do like paint or even work wise. Now, I go into the studio and link with the artist. [I used to] be working on three or four beats at a time. It doesn’t even happen anymore. Now, I dedicate time to just one. It was kind of nostalgic to sit in my room and create any random ideas that came to mind. It’s been cool to get back to the basics while also adjusting to the new way of life.
You’ve worked with so many Latin Artists. Who do you want to work with that’s not in the Latin genre?
I have a bunch! From the top of my head: Kanye has been such a huge inspiration ever since I started. One, because he is such an amazing producer and also because he is also one of my favorite artists. One of my favorite producers. Frank Ocean; I’m a huge fan of him too. You know… Rihanna, Jay-Z. I could keep going on and on. That’s off the top of my head.
You have now moved into the artist space, releasing global hit Adicto with Ozuna and Anuel AA and THE KIDS THAT GREW UP ON REGGAETON. How has this transition been for you?
It’s been different man, like you know I’m getting used to it. You know, for us as producers, normally we’re more in the background. We just work in the studio to put music out and it’s not too much of doing interviews and having people know what you’re doing. That’s usually a job for the artists who you’re working with.
Usually for me, I just produce the track and that’s it. Having a chance to put out your vision this time, like whatever you feel you wanna do and to have artists that you work with or have work with just be a part of that and help you up. At the moment where you want to create and do music that’s really representative of what you are at the moment. It’s been exciting man and thankfully it’s only the beginning. It’s been a great response from friends and you know so grateful on the support we’ve had with these releases. Hopefully, we can continue putting more music out because it’s something that that we really like.
Tell me about how TKN with Rosalia and Travis Scott came about?
So for that track, I’ve been speaking with Rosalia to go into the studio for a while now. With me traveling and working on other projects and her traveling and touring. We never got the chance to link and go in. She finally was working on this track and she had an idea already started. There were producers that had already worked on the track before I came into the picture. She was missing certain details and wasn’t sure about the structure and of course, as soon as I heard the track I knew it was amazing!
I started going in and working on details and things that she wanted to add to see if it works or not. It was a process of going in because she’s a really detailed artist. She goes into every minor detail not just with her vocals but on every sound, every level, everything. It’s kind of a different process compared to other artists that I’ve worked with but it’s super cool, super interesting. By that time, she was staying over here in Miami, where I live. Being in the same area, it was easier to keep exchanging files and sounds.
Then Sky Rompiendo, who’s another producer from Colombia, also came in, He also lives over here. We started like going into the last moments of making the song feel as perfect as she wanted it to be. I am super blessed and grateful that she thought about me to like help her bring the exact vision she wanted for that track. I’m super happy on how it came out. The people love it. I’m huge fan of Travis Scott also so to have those two on a track, along with a Latin feel that probably you haven’t heard from him. It was super cool and exciting. I know people are still listening to it and hopefully it keeps it keeps growing.
You have a really solid creative chemistry with Bad Bunny and it shows when you work together. Can you tell me some memorable moments while creating with him?
Yeah with him, He’s like me in a sense where we’re more conservative with other people around. We probably won’t talk much but when he’s with his circle just like me, we’re a bit more free. We tend to talk more and do different stuff. He’s always with his homies when he comes to the studio.
We like a lot of like the same stuff, like same type of movies. When we were talking for the first time we realized we’re both huge fans of the Fast and Furious series growing up. We’re also huge fans of cars, Nintendo 64 and same types of music. Like when I was growing up, Linkin Park, System of a Down, Blink 182 was the thing that I was listening to. I had a lot influences, so does he. We connected in another level not just work wise. It’s super cool like every time sit down with him and just talk about random stuff.
For him being in the studio, it’s seeing how he comes up with ideas. One of the last songs we did for his album, X 100PRE, the track is called “Solo De Mi”. He just started singing the chorus in the shower and he recorded it on the phone. A couple of minutes later he sent it over. It was the last day for the album. We had to like create It was the last day at that moment or it wasn’t coming out We were able to come up with chorus and he just like sang all over it. Just to see how genius he is at the time to create. You just get a certain level of more respect to his artistry who he is. It’s always amazing to come in and work with him. He always gives me a liberty that I don’t really have much with other artists. For him to give me those experiences, being able to put my touch on those different type of influences that I’ve always had, that I’ve wanted to explore more of He gives me those creative chances. That’s one of the things that I really like about him
As you already know, the entire world is protesting against Black Lives Matter. What actions have you taken to help support the Black Lives Matter movement?
It’s been a difficult time. I’m just trying to get as informed as best as I can. I like to be respectful to everything that’s happening and do the right thing. We started to look for some foundations we can support. I think it’s best that we can do. I know something happened like two days ago but you know trying to be as respectful and stay on top of it. Like how can we help from over here from home because at the same time we still have COVID happening. Trying to stay as safe as possible. You know, it’s also a really serious moment in our time and you know it’s something that in our has not happened in our lifetime. All these things are happening at the same time. We just need to be united as human beings and do what’s best for humanity
Where do you feel most at home when producing? What makes it that way?
I usually have my element whether it’s my room over here in my apartment where I have my set up to work or same thing with my room. Also, my studio that we have over here in Miami, I have those little details that help me go through ideas. Things that feel like home to me, just like having different keyboards. I know that really give me those sounds that I tend to go to. From the beginning, I have a couple of keyboards in my studio but also little elements like action figures, movies or things that influence me. Things that put me in habitat. I have my TV with my vintage video games or current video games.
I always take a break to clear my mind if I get too saturated. I’m a huge fan of those two. I have a basketball hoop in my studio, I’m a huge basketball fan. Those are things that that really like keep me centered and Keep my mind going. The stress that comes with creating a song. Sometime one of those days is not going as planned or as fast as you wanted to. I’ve learned with time to take the time to chill for a little bit and go back at it later. It’s a lot better than forcing it and trying to get it out of the way because we want to do music as perfect as it can be. I don’t want to do anything halfway done or not as good. I have a lot of respect for that. Having those little details and things to help your mind relax and go back is very important for me.
You’re covering magazines, winning GRAMMYs, taking over the music world. What is it that you want to do with your platform? What do you want people to take away from your legacy?
There’s a couple of things but mainly you know we’re still like a music genre that is still in growth. I know we’re at the top from what it’s ever been. Streaming numbers; the reach that we have right now. Music wise, we’re still evolving. I know I’ve been working and pushing myself to help better the sound, the things that we can achieve as Latinos as reggaeton producers. I think it’s not to limit ourselves to just like creating the same thing or being basic or feeling that we can’t work with these artists, or we can’t do this type of music, or we can’t sound at this type of level.
I think that’s my main goal to help other producers just like me whether it’s from Puerto Rico or other parts from Latin America or other parts of the world. Not just Latinos but in general. We can do so many things if we put our mind to it. That’s what I try to do everyday. I’m working just trying to evolve and see what else can we do to be the best we could be. That hopefully, is my legacy. To get this genre into a position where it’s right there with the general ones in terms of quality, sound and influence. To influence and pave a better way for other producers after me.
Tell me about how you met Lex Borrero and how NEON16 was formed?
I met Lex in a studio session that I was doing at the moment; an artist called Mozart La Para from Dominican Republic. He came through, we exchanged numbers. Nothing happened after that. I moved into a new apartment here in Miami. By chance I saw that we live in the same building. We set plans to have dinner and talk work and music. I was working with Roc Nation at that time as an A&R. He was also working with Roc Nation, we had that in common that we wanted talk about see what goals we had.
From that first conversation we connected not just as co-workers but more as like friends with similar goals in mind. We decided to help each other achieve those things. It was an instant connection. From there on we decided we wanted to work together make these things happen. Little by little we put things together with the knowledge on his side of the music industry and my experience all these years of producing. We probably didn’t know what we were doing but we wanted to achieve these things. Things eventually started happening like meetings at Interscope Records. We had a chance to create this new label, NEON16. That’s where everything started. The vision of creating this movement in the Latin industry, this new sound, this new vision of where music needs to go for us. Giving it a house and platform for other new producers, new artists and hoping to guide out music. Because as I told you, our music is still evolving, it still needs growth and learning. Not just on the music side but also on the business side but also everything else. Us being able to give a platform, not just for me to put out music in my vision. Also, to help other up and coming producers, artists, even from the label to get those experiences. It’s something really special and hopefully we can keep growing and evolving with time.
The label feels so organic. What sets NEON16 apart from other labels? What do you look for in new artists?
The new artist part: I’m picky. I don’t want to put anybody in just because of what it could mean financially. I’m a fan of music. When I see an artist that has something that’s different from anything that I’ve been listening to, I gravitate towards it. That really catches my attention. That’s how I want to treat it. With something that we feel passionate about and know that we can help this artist achieve their goals. With my experience and my time in the music I could help mold that and guide them to where they need to be.
That’s my main thing, having artistry, character, something that’s not the same thing I’ve been listening to. That’s what I look for. We’re still at the beginning stages of this, there’s not a huge roster of artists we’re working with. The ones we have, like Kris Floyd and Dylan Fuentes, those are two artists that I felt when we spoke, when we heard their music, what they want to achieve, it connected.
I don’t know what’s going to be the plans from here to ten years. Probably, we’d have like ten times what we have right now. As of right now, it feels more homie, it feels like more of an inner circle little group. We want to invest as much time as possible to help them grow and achieve their career goals. Let’s see where we go from there. I don’t want to over saturate it and not have as much time for each of them. Then it gets a little bit more complicated and since this nothing I’ve done before, I want to do it the right way. Little by little we’ll keep on growing and keep up expanding with time.
I’m sure there’s a lot you can’t talk about just yet but is there anything you’re currently working on that isn’t announce but you can tell us?
There’s a couple! I don’t know if I’m supposed to be talking about it. I know there are a couple of things that are going to be released in the next few months. As we spoke, the artist Kris Floyd and Dylan Fuentes; they’re coming out with their next singles. I’m super excited about those. I’m also working on a lot of different projects whether it’s like I’m working with J. Balvin on his next album. Me and Sky Rompiendo are pulling into work mode creating new music for him. I’m super excited about that, I know he’s super excited too. There are a couple of other things in house working I don’t know I could talk about it yet. Hopefully, it comes out soon so people can listen to it. I can’t wait.
You’re been producing since you were a teenager. You’re the #1 Latin producer in the world. What do you want to do next?
There’s a couple! I don’t know if I’m supposed to be talking about it. I know there are a couple of things that are going to be released in the next few months. As we spoke, the artist Kris Floyd and Dylan Fuentes; they’re coming out with their next singles. I’m super excited about those. I’m also working on a lot of different projects whether it’s like I’m working with J. Balvin on his next album. Sky (Rompiendo) and I are diving into work mode creating new music for him. I’m super excited about that, I know he’s super excited too. There are a couple of other things in house that I am working on, I know I cant talk about it just yet. Hopefully, it comes out soon so people can listen to it. I can’t wait!
The definition of Contrast is “to be strikingly different.” What makes you strikingly different?
It’s a lot. It’s a combination of a lot of things but I think it’s what I put into my music. I think it’s not just one thing that really comes to mind. When I’m creating I have a lot of influences of what I was watching when I was growing up, what I was listening to. Whether the influences are from basketball or skateboarding, video games, anime. Everything. I think all those things create my sound and my vision. Growing up in Puerto Rico listening to classic Reggaeton. At the same time, those rock influences, rap influences. All those things create who I am, music wise. How I dress, How I see creatively. That’s what makes me be a different person. That’s what I want to put into my sound. Hopefully that’s why people gravitate to working with me.