Marco “Tainy” Masis Opens Up About Being Mentored by the Biggest Names in Reggaetón at 14 Years Old
Marco “Tainy” Masis was producing tracks during reggaetón’s golden era — at 14! Now he collabs with Cardi B and Selena Gomez. Learn all about this young veteran’s contribution to Latin music.
It's not just that Marco Masis has been laying down the tracks you listen to, like Cardi B's “I Like It” and Bad Bunny's “Estamos Bien,” producing performers like Wisin y Yandel and racking up hits on the Latin Billboard Hot 100. It's that the artist professionally known as Tainy has been working with the best in the game for 15 years — and he's only 29.
Born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, the tastemaker idolized the heavy hitters such as Zion y Lennox, Tego Calderon, Don Omar and especially the trailblazing producers Luny Tunes early on. “Listening to all the rap and reggaetón artists that were coming up in Puerto Rico, you really start to get into the culture … you just get a vibe.” Tainy soon “fell in love” with producing, “that's when I fully went into learning the genre, who were the artists, the sounds and producers …”
He knows he's a lucky guy. “I was blessed to have friends that were already involved in the music industry, and that's how I got my foot in the door.”
One friend: Josias de la Cruz, artistically known as Nely. Initially creating beats in the FruityLoops program, Nely, a couple years older, gave Tainy's beats a listen. When his sound became a little more polished, Nely connected him with Franciso Saldana, better known as Luny of Luny Tunes. Winning his approval by creating an impromptu beat on the spot, Luny made space for the young teen and along with Victor Cabrera (Tunes) assumed the role of mentors.
Luny Tunes's legendary compilation album's Mas Flow, Mas Flow 2 and Mas Flow Los Benjamins introduced new sounds and as well as now-famous artists like Daddy Yankee and Ivy Queen to mass audiences.
“Having them be my mentors was insane. For me, it was mind-blowing. Like, I looked up to Luny Tunes. They were my idols, everything they did was amazing to me and to meet them for the first time was crazy,” Tainy shares with CHICA. “A couple moments later, you realize they're people just like you and me. It was crazy to see how humble and how careful they were with everything I was doing, it's one of the greatest blessings I've had in my life.”
Today Tainy is not just one of the most sought after producers in the genre, but also a fashion enthusiast, mixing eclectic tastes in a single well-constructed outfit.
“I'm always leaning toward everything that has to do with art. Whether it's music, literal paintings, movies or imagery. I love the aesthetic, I think I have a personal taste that I want to make the best of.” He explained to CHICA.
The Puerto Rican native's artistic expression through clothing is striking. Contrary to other urban artists, the composer skips out on the iced-out long chains and opts for pearled Coco Chanel necklaces. Similarly to his music, his ensemble is a well-balanced mixture of street and eclectic tastes, pairing his casual sweats with a plaid long peacoat with a teddy collar.
The Cross Over Era
Tainy started his music career at a time in the early 2000s referred to as “the cross-over.” “I came into the Mas Flow studio when reggaetón was just exploding. I came in with Wisin y Yandel, Don Omar, Daddy Yankee, Tego Calderon, and Zion y Lennox and they wear all poppin' at the time. I looked up to all of them, just to see them walk into the studio, or exchange words with me was out of this world,” he explains.
He officially arrived on Mas Flow 2, and is credited for the intro of the album. This era added percussion to the fundamental dembow beat found in the sub-genre incorporating styles like bachata and merengue into reggaetón. His mentors experimented with this on songs like “Mayor Que Yo” and “Te He Querido Te He Llorado.” After mastering the art, Tainy transitioned from mentee to co-producer, producing on Luny Tunes Los Benjamins.
In 2018, Tainy revisited this era, working on Bad Bunny's “La Romana,” a song dedicated to those years that draws a classic bachata sound for its first half. The track, on Bad Bunny's album X100PRE, samples “Fue De Los Dos” by Dominican classic bachata singer Leonardo Paniagua. Tainy added some touches and the tune has since been blasting through the airwaves in both Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. Featuring El Alfa, the leading light in the Dominican dembow music, “La Romana” was a big step forward for dembow's international recognition. “Dominican Republic has a specific sound and sometimes it doesn't get as far as it should be… It really has a lot to offer” he says. “Dominicans and Puerto Rican's have always had a great connection. My mom is Dominican, so I have a huge Dominican influence in my life.”
Tainy co-produced 12 tracks on X100PRE, and had the chance to experiment with styles. The track that marks a strong divergence is the alternative-rock infused “Tenemos Que Hablar,” from the pop-rock undertones to the style of singing, something rarely seen in Latin trap.
Producers often have limited control on the ultimate sound, so sharing an interest in alternative music with Bad Bunny was breath of fresh air. “I grew up listening to Blink 182, Limp Biscuit, Sum 41, Linkin Park. Any of the artists he is working with at any given moment, “probably aren't making that kind of music. And it's OK, you understand it. But sometimes it's difficult because you can give so much more, especially when you have so many influences.”
Being a force in reggaetón and Latin trap, both known for its criticism for explicit lyrics and hypersexualization of women he gives his take on the producer's role in the creating process:
“It's tricky. The artist can express himself however he wants. You can choose if you want to work with it or be involved with it. But at the end of the day, it's your job. You're job as a producer is to create good music. Everyone has the right to say exactly what they want to say. It's up to you (consumer), to know what you want to listen to and it's up to the parents to know what their kids are listening too.”
Tainy currently has full control of exploring all his influences and tastes: He is in the early stages of his solo project. “I'm creating the music first and figuring out who I'm going to put in what track… if the music is there, the vibe, the color, the direction is there.”
Long established in the Latin-American music industry, he started gracing American airwaves with tracks like Cardi B's “I Like It” and joined forces with Benny Blanco, Selena Gomez, and J Balvin for “I Can't Get Enough,” the video for which dropped March 12, just a few days after announcing he signed to the Roc Nation label. Tainy told us about recording this recent release with his peers: “Being in a room creating with Benny, for the first thing, is crazy. He's an amazing producer, someone I look up too. And just to be a part of something with him is crazy, starting off with that. And coming up with this idea, just so Selena Gomez can be on it, and literally have Selena be on it, is insane. She's an amazing person and great energy. And having my brother there, J Balvin, doing a crazy verse. I couldn't ask for anything else, it came out perfect.”
Despite being in the game so long and working in the major leagues at such a young age, Marco Masis can't hold back his excitement and appreciation for every new musical experience.
Watch the video below.