Romantic Style, Pt. 3: Desde la Esencia

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The third album by Flex (known in Latin America as Nigga), Romantic Style, Pt. 3: Desde la Esencia lacks the sure-fire smash hit that each of his previous albums has had, but it's a fairly solid album overall and includes a few good songs. While critics weren't generous toward either of Flex's first two full-lengths, Te Quiero: Romantic Style in da World (2007) and La Evolución Romantic Style (2009), the formulaic, overly simplistic "romantic style" of the Panamanian reggaetonero paid off in the marketplace, to be sure. The first album's title track, "Te Quiero," was one of the biggest Latin hits of 2007. It topped the Billboard Latin Songs chart in the United States and was also a chart-topper south of the border. The international success of "Te Quiero" was furthered by a remix featuring Mexican pop singer Belinda that was released in 2008 and refashioned the song as a pop-oriented duet. Flex topped the charts again in 2009 with "Dime Si Te Vas con Él," the stand-out single from his second album. The lead single from Romantic Style, Pt. 3, "Besos de Amor," a cumbia-inflected collaboration with Ricky Rick of the Kumbia All Starz, is highly reminiscent of "Te Quiero" and "Dime si Te Vas con Él," all three tracks produced by Predikador, who has helmed all of Flex's albums to date. Cumbia-inflected reggaeton such as this has proven popular recently; for instance, Puerto Rican reggaetonero Tito el Bambino's pop-cumbia single "El Amor" was crowned Urban Song of the Year at the Premio lo Nuestro 2010 awards. Relative to that Tito el Bambino smash hit, however, "Besos de Amor" is charmless and downright dull. More impressive are album-opener "Quiero Besarte" and closer "Entre Mis Brazos," which exhibit some originality. Lastly, it's worth pointing out that while Romantic Style, Pt. 3 may be brief at ten songs in 37 minutes, the upside is that it has a better ratio of good songs to filler than Flex's past couple albums.

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