Rap Moderno Review: EL AFTER DEL AFTER
Written by Staff on November 16, 2023
November 11th remains one of the most important days in all of Argentina. And it remains the day for one of Argentina’s most acclaimed trappers to drop. Since 2018, Alejo Acosta, also known as YSY A, has chosen this day to release all five of his studio albums. This year was no exception.
EL AFTER DEL AFTER is the fifth studio album from Argentine rapper YSY A. Released on (as usual) November 11th, 2023, EL AFTER explores an all-new territory for the 25-year-old rapper: techno. And if alarms are going off in your head, don’t worry. This album still has all the stylings of a modern rap album that you’d come to expect from someone like YSY. But to be completely honest with you, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this; when he announced that EL AFTER would be following a completely new direction, the chance of me guessing that “techno” and “trance” would be the primary inspirations was next to nonexistent. And in perhaps the biggest surprise, YSY actually pulled it off. Kind of. We’ll get to that.
First, though, I’d like to talk about the production – because how could I not? A trap/techno album? How could you possibly do that while maintaining a huge roster of Latin America’s best producers? Well, in YSY’s case, you don’t! For the first time since 2018, executive production returned to long-time collaborator ONIRIA, who has production credits on all eleven tracks. I find it helps to think of YSY as the bread and ONIRIA as the butter. Their careers have been intertwined for years.
And despite ONIRIA being an old pro at this, I found myself surprised at how middle-of-the-road most of EL AFTER’s production is. But I find it hard to fault him for such middling production choices: ONIRIA is, notably, not a techno producer. Not shockingly, having a rap producer make a bunch of rap beats infused with trance and techno is pretty untrodden ground. So I won’t be too harsh on it. It works. It doesn’t work all the time, but it works. It has the necessary energy, and not much else. That’s all I’ll say about the production for now.
I suppose it’s important for me to mention that I can only say so much about the lyrics. In case I haven’t made it obvious enough yet, I am not even remotely fluent in Spanish. And of course, trying to machine translate anything into English tends to be a very unhelpful process most of the time. There’s only so much I can do by myself, and as much as I’d love to have some kind of reference for doing this show, that just isn’t possible at the moment. So any sayings, slang, regional dialect, etc. go over my head nine times out of ten. What does this have to do with anything? I dunno. I just feel like I have to mention this, since I can’t really review the lyrical content outside of the broadest sense. I apologize for my highly-limiting perspective, but that’s kind of what ends up happening when a gringo like myself takes an interest to a different culture.
Anyway. Back to the album. I’ve always known that YSY combines his impeccable flow with a competent pen game, so I’ll just go ahead and assume that his lyrics on EL AFTER are as sharp as ever. The general lyrical content, of course, hasn’t changed; YSY’s still content to talk about women, alcohol, drugs, fame, expensive things, and most of the things you’d expect a rapper to sing about. Pretty par for the course. But his actual performance? I’m not so sure. To put it simply, this isn’t the best I’ve heard him at.
One of YSY’s most entertaining aspects is his flow and cadence. He’s truly one of a kind, at least in the sense that he can pull off a delivery and flow that basically no one else can. And it pains me to say this, but I think this tonal shift ended up hurting YSY’s performance. There just isn’t enough variety or energy for me to completely buy into this new style. Additionally, I know I said that the instrumentals were largely middling and uninteresting, but they’re easily more entertaining than the actual guy performing over them. And that sucks! YSY’s always been the most interesting part of his own music, but that simply isn’t the case on EL AFTER. It’s more of a phone-in than anything else.
But I will give YSY a bit of credit: there are a few tracks on EL AFTER where he sounds more at home. The best example I can use comes from the ninth track, LOCO X TU CUERPO. In terms of energy, it’s probably the least-energetic on the whole album, but YSY’s more laidback and melodic tone makes it work. I suppose the feature from Lara91k also helps, but I’ll go over the features later. But yeah, LOCO X TU CUERPO is one of the better tracks, in my opinion. Mostly since YSY’s performance seems to match the beat in terms of intensity and energy.
So at this point, I think I have to ask myself a question. Is it really YSY that lets this whole album down, or is it the fact that his performance is outmatched by the music around him? I really don’t know. As one-note and uninteresting as the instrumentals are, they still have that bounce you’d want in an album like this. If that’s what ONIRIA’s sole goal was for EL AFTER, then I think he did a pretty good job. But as I hope I’ve made it very clear by now: these beats are usually at odds with YSY’s performances. And combining the plain beats with YSY’s underwhelming performance means that, at times, EL AFTER ends up being a surprisingly uninteresting listen.
And I want to stress this real quick: I do not think EL AFTER DEL AFTER is a bad album. In fact, I like it. It’s a good album, and there’s some genuinely great songs on it. However, when you compare EL AFTER to the rest of YSY’s catalog (maybe excluding 2021’s TRAP DE VERDAD), it’s an abject disappointment. For all its faults, TRAP DE VERDAD still had a soul and sounded like an YSY album – and I could probably say the same for his recent collaboration album with Bhavi. TU DUO FAVORITO wasn’t perfect, obviously, but only YSY and Bhavi could have made it. But EL AFTER lacks that kind of soul and personality. The music may still be good, but it’s not as filling as I’d hoped for. It leaves the listener wanting more.
My first listen of EL AFTER DEL AFTER began seconds after it was released on the morning of November 11th. It started off pretty well. I was waiting for my breakfast to cook, so I didn’t actually have anything to do except listen. And I liked it at first. TODA LA VIDA is a solid album opener, LUGARES QUE LLEGO is probably my favorite song of the whole album, and + QUE LA DROGA is actually pretty good. But by the fourth track, the magic starts to wear off. After a great opening, the next five tracks almost feel like driving through mud. YSY lackes energy, the beats are bland, and all that other stuff I already mentioned. But tracks nine, ten, and eleven? Much better. Similarly to the very beginning, EL AFTER ends on a high note. LOCO X TU CUERPO, ASESINO and GANAS do a fairly good job of closing the album, and I feel like they’re some of the only songs on the whole album where YSY’s innovation and polish really starts to come back in. So my verdict on the tracklist? EL AFTER DEL AFTER’s tracks are like a turkey sandwich: the bread is the greatest artisan bread you’ve ever tasted, but the turkey is bland, dry, and flavorless. It’s still a good sandwich, yes, but you know you can do better.
I suppose now’s a good time to get to the features. After last year’s YSYSMO had not a single feature, it feels good to have some different voices in an YSY A album for once. At least that’s what I told myself when I saw the tracklist. EL AFTER has five features: Quevedo on LUGARES QUE LLEGO, Duki on NO DA MÁS, Jere Klein on 24/7 6.5, Lara91k on LOCO X TU CUERPO, and Xina Mora on ASESINO. Sounded fine at first. But now that I’ve had the time to swirl this album around in my brain, I have to admit that EL AFTER’s features are a mixed bag.
Even though I like his feature here, Quevedo adds absolutely nothing to LUGARES QUE LLEGO. It doesn’t need to exist, but I’m fine with it existing. I absolutely hate saying this, but I’m not a fan of Duki’s feature on NO DA MAS. And it pains me to say that. I love Duki. He’s one of my favorites. But I don’t like this feature. Higher-pitched, melodic Duki is not my favorite flavor of Duki, but that’s what you get here.
Jere Klein is on 24/7 6.5. That’s all I have to say.
Lara91k has probably my favorite feature on the album. I like her vocal passages, and I think she works really well on a more stripped-back track like this. LOCO X TU CUERPO didn’t really stand out to me all that much on my first listen, but I really do think it’s one of EL AFTER’s better songs. Lara is largely responsible for that.
Xina Mora’s fine? I guess? Not really interesting or noteworthy. But she’s there. ASESINO’s actually one of YSY’s better songs performance-wise, which is probably why Xina doesn’t really stand out that much.
So do you still believe me when I say that I don’t dislike EL AFTER DEL AFTER? Because I don’t. It’s a good album, even if it’s not my cup of tea. Might not seem like that at first, but at the end of the day, it’s an YSY A album, and I’m probably going to like an YSY A album no matter what it is. It just so happened that I talked mostly about the negatives because of how much more interesting they are to talk about. The good things about this album (and there are plenty of them) are just that: good. Not great. Very few moments of EL AFTER strike me as genuinely amazing, but that doesn’t make it a bad album. Because it’s not. It’s just easier for me to talk about its weaker aspects in this case. What we’re left with, then, is a somewhat muddled and confusing reinvention from one of Argentina’s most volatile rappers. And even though I probably won’t return to it outside of the songs I like the most, I still have to respect YSY and this weird little album he pushed out. And if I had to sum it all up in one sentence, it’d probably go something like this:
While never dipping into mediocrity, YSY A’s EL AFTER DEL AFTER stumbles just as often as it runs.
OVERALL RATING: 7
1: LUGARES QUE LLEGO
3: + QUE LA DROGA
4: LOCO X TU CUERPO
6: TODA LA VIDA
7: NO NEGOCIO CON MI ALMA
9: NO DA MÁS
10: 24/7 6.5
11: NUNCA ENTENDEMO