Karol G has never been an artist devoid of talent and potential; however she hasn’t seemed to take hold of that talent and work harder to define herself. It could be her forceful nature to be musically trendy, and though her last album had the right up-tick for her, it still felt hollow from a songwriting standpoint. KG0516 is no different. It is an eclectic mess that rarely makes the climb to the peak, but when it does there are a lot of great highlights.
KG0516 is ambitious with some choice in the production and Karol G weaves in some solid and catchy melodies and harmonies. It’s primarily the percussion that is a consistent aspect of the production on the album that usually doesn’t feel fresh and at times repetitive. These basic percussion undertones are there to keep that reggaeton flowing through some of the more “unconventional” orchestrations. But there are unique switches in some of the sonic overtures that deliver some unique constructs. For example “Location;” it incorporates percussion reminiscent of a hip-hop/reggaeton hybrid slowly blending in the stew while the guitar steals the show. It is used through varying layers to create a jaunty-country vibe that just oozes enough energy for a modern hoedown. Outside of this a lot of tracks, contextually, is only as good as what you expect on a surface level.
But for the most part, KG0516 is like the new Zack Snyder cut of Justice League where it has a lot of great ideas, but it never progresses past the idea portion. On the surface, the album has a lot of good production where it has a sense like it is accomplishing its goals, which at times seems like it is . Some of these ideas, however, deliver enough like the fun “200 Copas,” which is a nice drunken bar ditty. But Karol G is a pretty bad actress on the microphone, so that outro is least to be desired. But like those moments, there are other key ones that leave a solid impact.
It’s when Karol G begins to steer from the rudimentary drag of the “trendy” percussion styles like the trap heavy “Arranca Pal Carajo.” However, KG0516 isn’t devoid of bangers, there are a decent amount of tracks that have the right momentum and production to keep you returning back, like “Bichota.” It has a steady pace with solid sonic construction and sultry execution by Karol G. It smoothly transitions onto the subsequent track, like how most tracks do on the album. A lot of what makes her a great talent is the range she can take her voice.
She delivers some amazing vocal performances like on “El Barco;” it is an elegant ballad that weave these lush guitar strings and using moments in her life to take a new direction in songwriting. Though the content is tried and most times boring, like on “Location,” the emotion she evokes from the vocal performance brings it all together tightly. Her solo work here shines brighter than tracks where she has an artist featured, except for the solid duet with reggaeton artist Camilo on “Contigo Voy A Muerte.” “Bichota,” “DVD,” and “El Barco” are real highlights on the album, but unfortunately the album has a lot of features.
Many of the features on KG0516 usually outshine her with intrigue, like Nathy Pelusa’s verse on “Gato Malo.” It has an aggressively fun-girl-power-like tone and uncanny flow that fits well with the instrumental. Karol G also brings a solid vocal performance, but it lacks that extra oomph she has stored within. Fortunately it is a step up from the strange features of “Beautiful Boy,” for the kind of song it is. It has a sample of “Beautiful Girl” by Sean Kingston from feature artist Emilee, using atmospheric acoustics, as the chorus and a lazy verse by Ludacris mixed into a slow tempo hip-hop song. And don’t fret if you’re one to listen from start to finish, as the last track is a solid mix of Karol G dueting with many reggaeton legends and some of their most famous tracks. It definitely hits the nostalgia goggles right, despite nostalgia recently being a bit of a cop-out for many things.
KG0516 is not as tight and tuned like her 2019 album Oceans, but it has a fun duality in the style and execution. Unfortunately it doesn’t take a step up to where her potential could be, but there are enough glimpses of something special within that she hopefully brings out in the future.