Bad Bunny in October 2019
|Birth name||Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio|
|Born||March 10, 1994|
Almirante Sur, Vega Baja, Puerto Rico
Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio (born March 10, 1994), known by his stage name Bad Bunny, is a Puerto Rican singer, rapper, and songwriter. His music is often defined as Latin trap and reggaeton, but he has incorporated various other genres into his music, including rock, bachata, and soul. He is also known for his deep, slurred vocal style and his eclectic fashion sense. Throughout his career, Bad Bunny has frequently collaborated with artists such as J Balvin, Ozuna, Farruko, Residente, Arcángel, and Daddy Yankee.
Born and raised in the municipality of Vega Baja, Puerto Rico, Bad Bunny gained popularity on SoundCloud and was eventually signed to a record label while working in a supermarket as a bagger and studying at the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo. Following the release of his breakthrough single "Soy Peor" in late 2016, he rose to stardom after collaborating with Cardi B and Drake on the singles "I Like It" and "Mia", which charted on the US Billboard Hot 100 at number one and number three, respectively. His debut album X 100pre (2018) was awarded a Latin Grammy for Best Urban Music Album. His collaborative album with J Balvin, Oasis (2019), contains the popular singles "Qué Pretendes" and "La Canción".
In early 2020, he performed at the Super Bowl LIV halftime show as a guest, alongside Shakira and Jennifer Lopez, and became the first Latin urban music artist on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. Bad Bunny's second studio album, YHLQMDLG (Yo hago lo que me da la gana) (2020), became the highest-charting all-Spanish album ever on the US Billboard 200 at number two, followed by the release of the compilation album Las que no iban a salir (2020), two months later without prior announcement or promotion.
Benito Antonio Martínez was born on March 10, 1994, in Almirante Sur barrio in Vega Baja, Puerto Rico. His father, Tito, was a truck driver, and his mother, Lysaurie, is a retired schoolteacher. His mother often listened to salsa, merengue, and ballads, such as Juan Gabriel's "Abrázame muy fuerte" while Bad Bunny helped her with chores around the house. He has two younger brothers, Bernie and Bysael, and considers his close friends to be part of his family. He said he was raised in a happy home. As "a lanky wallflower with a booming voice", the rapper has described himself as a child by saying, “I wasn't the kid who got involved in the streets. I liked to be at home with my family.”
Bad Bunny says he has wanted to be a singer since he was young. As a child, he attended church weekly with his devoutly Catholic mother and sang in the church choir until age 13. After leaving the choir, he developed an interest in the artists he heard on the radio, particularly Daddy Yankee and Héctor Lavoe. His first solo performance was his rendition of Juanes's song "Mala Gente" in a middle school talent show. His stage name came from a time in which the rapper was forced to wear a bunny costume to school and was photographed with an angry expression. Despite being shy in high school, he often created freestyle raps to entertain his classmates, developing a reputation at his school for his creativity and humor. His teenage interests also included skateboarding and professional wrestling, both of which influenced his fashion sense.
Speaking about his distance from the Puerto Rican music industry, Bad Bunny stated, "I'm from Vega Baja, a small area that's not a metropolis like San Juan where the majority of the genre's artists have come from. That's what's most surprising and incredible about this – I simply came from nothing, and that's that. When I was at school, I used to stay on a balcony singing and people would stand around listening." He has stated that, when he was young, his mother wanted him to grow up to be an engineer, his father preferred that he be a baseball player, while a teacher told him that he would become a firefighter. Instead, he took courses in audiovisual communication at University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo.
2016–2017: Career beginnings
While working as a bagger at Supermercados Econo in Vega Baja in 2016, Bad Bunny released music as an independent artist on SoundCloud, where his song "Diles" caught the attention of DJ Luian who signed him to his record label, Hear this Music. DJ Luian introduced Bad Bunny to the production team Mambo Kingz, who were intrigued by Bad Bunny's musical experimentation and style of dress. Since then, he has earned multiple top-ten entries on the US Hot Latin Songs chart. His breakthrough single, "Soy Peor", established him as a forerunner in the Latin American trap scene and reached number 22 on the Hot Latin Songs chart. Ten months after the video for "Soy Peor"'s release, it reached 330 million views on YouTube. His song "Krippy Kush" featuring Farruko also became a success, and was eventually remixed by American rapper Nicki Minaj. Bad Bunny's May 2017 collaboration with Karol G, "Ahora Me Llama", garnered more than 756 million views on YouTube and reached number 10 on the Billboard Hot Latin Songs chart. The song was described by Marty Preciado of NPR as a "bass-heavy, unapologetic trap anthem to the power of femininity, soiled in hi-hats and heavy sub-bass [that] challenges hegemonic masculinity, singing about respect, love and sex-positive decisions." "Ahora Me Llama" was listed on "Alt.Latino's Favorites: The Songs Of 2017" as one of the best Latin songs of 2017.
In the summer of 2017, Bad Bunny signed a booking deal with Cardenas Marketing Network (CMN) for several Latin American countries. He was featured in Becky G's single "Mayores", released in July 2017. Starting in November 2017, Bad Bunny hosted Beats 1's first Spanish-language show, Trap Kingz. Also in November 2017, Bad Bunny's track, "Tu No Metes Cabra" peaked at number 38 on the Hot Latin Songs chart. The re-mix demanded the release from prison of Anuel AA. At around the same time, the song "Sensualidad," released as a collaboration between Bad Bunny, J Balvin, and Prince Royce, peaked at number 8 on the Hot Latin Songs chart, while the remix of "Te Boté" with Ozuna and Nicky Jam reached number one on that chart. In the year 2017 alone, Bad Bunny featured on fifteen Billboard Hot Latin Songs-charting tracks.
2018–2019: International success, X 100pre, and Oasis
In May 2018, American rapper Cardi B released a collaboration with Bad Bunny and J Balvin, "I Like It", which hit number-one on the Billboard Hot 100. In Cardi B's single, Bad Bunny raps in Spanish, Spanglish, and English. It became Bad Bunny's first number-one single on the US Billboard Hot 100. On October 11, 2018, Bad Bunny released "Mia", a collaboration with Drake. It reached number five on the Billboard Hot 100. In November 2018, Bad Bunny released "Te Guste" with Jennifer Lopez, with a video directed by Mike Ho.
Bad Bunny released his debut album X 100pre on Christmas Eve 2018 soon after leaving DJ Luian's label "Hear this Music", revealing on an Instagram live stream that he was never allowed to make an album and also confessing that he actually produced his music by himself. He joined Rimas Entertainment as soon as he left "Hear this Music" to release his debut album on December 24, 2018. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, X 100pre received an average score of 84 based on five reviews, indicating "universal acclaim". The record contains a variety of musical genres, including pop punk, Andean music, Dominican dembow, and "windswept 80s stadium rock".  Alexis Petridis of The Guardian praised Bad Bunny's "off-kilter creativity", opining that Bad Bunny "feels less like part of the current pop landscape than an artist operating slightly adjacent to it. He is separated from the pack as much by a desire to take risks as by his roots." From March 8–10, 2019, Bad Bunny performed a sold-out weekend concert run at the José Miguel Agrelot Coliseum in San Juan, his debut in Puerto Rico's major entertainment venue. The initial 2-date concert sold out in hours, prompting a third date, after much speculation and demand, including specially-priced student tickets.
On June 28, 2019, Bad Bunny released Oasis, an eight-song collaborative album with J Balvin. The record was released overnight and was deemed a "surprise" release. The two artists first met at a J Balvin concert in Puerto Rico, when Bad Bunny was working on releasing music on SoundCloud, and then collaborated on the 2017 track “Si Tu Novio Te Deja Sola”. The chemistry between the two was so strong that they came up with the idea to release a joint album. Oasis peaked at number nine on the Billboard Hot 100 and topped the Billboard US Latin Albums chart. In 2019, Bad Bunny performed on the main stage at Coachella. In July 2019, Bad Bunny put his European tour on hold, flying from Ibiza to Puerto Rico to join protests against governor Ricardo Rosselló. Bad Bunny and Residente released a protest song, "Afilando los cuchillos" , (in English: Sharpening the knives) during the demonstrations. The song garnered 2.5 million views on YouTube within a day of its release.
2020: Super Bowl LIV appearance, YHLQMDLG and Las que no iban a salir
In February 2020, Bad Bunny was a guest performer at the Super Bowl LIV halftime show, headlined by Shakira and Jennifer Lopez. Bad Bunny announced the album YHLQMDLG on February 27, 2020, during an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and stated that it would be released on Leap Day 2020. Bad Bunny released the album on February 29, 2020. The album's title stands for "Yo Hago Lo Que Me Da La Gana" (Spanish for "I Do What I Want") and features collaborations with Daddy Yankee, Yaviah, Jowell & Randy, and Ñengo Flow. The album is an homage to the marquesinas (garage parties) Bad Bunny grew up attending, and features many nods to early/mid-2000s reggaeton. On the final song on the album, "<3", the artist announced his intention to retire after releasing one more album with the lyric "In nine months I'll release another, to retire calmly like Miguel Cotto", referencing the retirement of the Puerto Rican boxer. He noted that the stress of fame has had a negative impact on his mental health.
YHLQMDLG debuted at number two on the US Billboard 200, becoming the highest-charting all-Spanish album ever on the chart. The album was met with critical acclaim, who praised the album's musical diversity. "Vete" was released as the lead single of the album on November 22, 2019. The album title was first mentioned during a sequence of the accompanying music video. The second single, "Ignorantes", with Panamanian singer Sech came out on February 14, 2020. In March 2020, Bad Bunny released the music video for "Yo Perreo Sola", in which the artist performs in drag. The final frame of the video denounces sexual harassment of women, and reads: ""If she doesn't want to dance with you, respect her, she twerks alone". On the song and video, Bad Bunny stated "I wrote it from the perspective of a woman. I wanted a woman's voice to sing it — 'yo perreo sola' — because it doesn't mean the same thing when a man sings it. But I do feel like that woman sometimes". "Yo Perreo Sola" landed No. 1 on the Billboard Latin Airplay chart, earning Bad Bunny his ninth No.1 on the chart in just over two years.
On April 4, 2020, he released the COVID-19-inspired song "En Casita" on SoundCloud, which expressed solidarity towards others in quarantine and featured vocals from his girlfriend, Gabriela Berlingeri. On May 10, 2020, Bad Bunny released his third solo studio album (fourth overall) Las que no iban a salir, without previous announcements. The album's title translates to "The Ones that Were Not Going to Come Out" and is primarily a compilation of previously unreleased or unfinished songs. Songs from the album were played on an Instagram live stream that Bad Bunny made in late April. The album features collaborations with Don Omar, Yandel, Zion & Lennox, Nicky Jam, and Jhay Cortez. Discussing the album's surprise release, Bad Bunny explained, "There was no real meaning behind it. I just thought, 'Damn. What people need is entertainment'". Bad Bunny had been filming his supporting role in Narcos: Mexico before filming was postponed due to the pandemic.
In July 2020, he appeared on the first digital cover of Playboy magazine as the first man to appear on the cover other than the magazine's founder, Hugh Hefner. The cover was shot by photographer Stillz in Miami, Florida and the magazine includes a feature article entitled "Bad Bunny is Not Playing God." The following month, his song "Pero Ya No" appeared in an advertisement for politician Joe Biden's 2020 United States presidential election campaign. On September 20, 2020, Bad Bunny performed a surprise, live (via multiple social media platforms), free concert from atop a flatbed truck that looked like a subway car going through the streets of New York and ended at Harlem Hospital. With a motorcade including police and vehicles flashing their lights, the subway car with Bad Bunny on the top drove through The Bronx and Washington Heights in Manhattan. The concert was broadcast live and hosted by Uforia.
Musical and lyrical style
Bad Bunny is primarily a Latin trap and reggaeton artist. As described by a Rolling Stone article, Bad Bunny sings and raps with a "conversational tone", employing "a low, slurry tone, viscous melodies and a rapper's cadence." In an interview with Billboard, Bad Bunny stated that his biggest music inspirations growing up were Héctor Lavoe, Vico C, Daddy Yankee, and Marc Anthony. As a child, he was exposed to salsa and merengue through his father and pop ballads from his mother. When he discovered English music, he became influenced by trap and hip-hop.
During his adolescence, he went through "musical seasons" in which he would listen almost exclusively to a certain type of music; he reflected that "There was bachata season, indie-pop season, even Bee Gees season." Daddy Yankee is a major influence on Bad Bunny, but Lavoe is his greatest inspiration and is described as "a critical strand of Bad Bunny’s musical DNA"; he later said that growing up, he would entertain neighbors from his balcony by playing songs from Lavoe. Though primarily a trap and reggaeton artist, his songs also include influence from soul, pop, and R&B. He addressed his musical experimentation by stating, “If tomorrow I want to release a rock album or I want to release a bachata album, nobody can tell me anything — why can't I? We need to try to unite audiences, unite countries, join musical tastes, unite people.” He also experimented with "garage-pop punk" on the song "Tenemos Que Hablar" from his X 100pre album.
According to Timothy Monger of AllMusic, his lyrics "range from humor and pathos to heartbreak and anger (sometimes in the same song)." Discussing the Oasis collaboration album between Bad Bunny and J Balvin, Joe Coscarelli noted that the two artists "pack their lyrics with geographically specific references and cultural allusions, offering no concessions to the white American audiences that have nonetheless embraced them." According to Paper, other themes explored in Bad Bunny's music include "self-love, inclusivity and LGBTQ acceptance". His songs "Yo Perreo Sola" and "Bellacoso" (featuring Residente) denounce sexual harassment, the latter of which was inspired by the feminist movement in Puerto Rico, notably protests against governor Ricardo Rosselló.
His fashion sense has been noted by the media. Vanessa Rosales of CNN opined that "in pink, florals and short shorts, Bad Bunny champions a new masculinity". According to Vogue, Bad Bunny is a "well-known sunglasses fanatic". The rapper once joked that being able to wear sunglasses at night was a key motivation for becoming an artist. His gender variant behavior is on full display in many of his videos, and when he, at award shows, appears with well-manicured and polished, long fingernails. In the video for his single "Estamos Bien", Bad Bunny is seen enjoying time with his friends, then polishing his fingernails with a purple nail polish then blows them dry. His video for "Yo Perreo Sola" featuries the artist performing in full drag. His fashion sense is also influenced by his interest in skateboarding as a teenager. After interviewing him in 2018, NPR interviewers Felix Contreras and Jasmine Garsd said that one of the things that struck them most was his humility.
Bad Bunny's quirky social media presence has garnered social media attention during the COVID-19 pandemic. He hosted a three-hour long Instagram live session on May 2, 2020, in which over 250,000 viewers were connected at all times, at one point reaching 320,000 viewers. These numbers surpassed popular live sessions by Drake and Tory Lanez. Houston-based artist Cynthia Coronado painted a picture of a popular post of the rapper tanning while wearing heart-shaped sunglasses in quarantine, and Bad Bunny offered to purchase the painting via Instagram for $5,000. On May 14, 2020, Rolling Stone featured Bad Bunny in the magazine's cover story titled "Bad Bunny in Captivity," a detailed account of the rapper's quarantine spent in an Airbnb in Puerto Rico. Bad Bunny became the first Latin urban artist to appear on the magazine's cover. Furthermore, the photos produced for the story were created by Gabriela Berlingeri, a jewelry designer and Bad Bunny's girlfriend, making her the first Latina to ever shoot a cover story for the magazine. With the story, Rolling Stone Latin music editor Suzy Exposito also became the first Latina to write a cover story for the magazine.
In relation to his childhood passion for professional wrestling, the beginning of his "Chambea" music video features an introduction from wrestler Ric Flair. Discussing the experience, Bad Bunny explained, "[Making the video], I kept saying, something's missing. Then it occurred to me, like damn, let's put a legendary wrestler in here. When I got to the video I was nervous—real nervous—and I didn't know if he was gonna be humble or more like the persona. But he's a super, super good dude and we became friends!" Bad Bunny's interest in wrestling also influenced his desire to explore androgynous and feminine style, with the rapper explaining, “Each [wrestler] has their way of being, and it's respected. They have long hair, they can paint their face, [but] they're strong and powerful beings.”
Bad Bunny has been openly critical towards the lack of humanitarian aid in the wake of Hurricane Maria, which devastated the island of Puerto Rico. Introducing his performance of "Estamos Bien" on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on September 26, 2018, the artist stated in English: "After one year of the hurricane, there are still people without electricity in their homes. More than 3,000 people died and Trump's still in denial." Shortly after the hurricane, Bad Bunny personally distributed food, water, and generators in his hometown of Vega Baja. A year later, his family home was still running on three generators. He established the Good Bunny Foundation, which distributes toys to children living in poverty in Puerto Rico.
Bad Bunny has criticized the decisions made to close schools in Puerto Rico and contrasted them with the opening of more and more prisons. He has since been nominated for Telemundo's Tu Musica Urban Awards "Humanitarian Award of the Year." On July 22, 2019, Bad Bunny joined artists such as Residente, Ricky Martin, and more than half a million Puerto Ricans in taking the streets and shutting down a major highway PR-52, more commonly known as Expreso Las Américas or Autopista Luis A. Ferré, in the days-long protests against government corruption and demanding Ricardo Rosselló's resignation. He has not taken a position regarding the statehood movement in Puerto Rico, and has stated that he would like to do more research on the subject before forming an official stance.
Bad Bunny supports LGBT rights and states that he "[feels] a big commitment to the community", due to widespread gender-based violence in Puerto Rico. In January 2019, Bad Bunny criticized a tweet by reggaeton artist Don Omar that was widely considered to be homophobic, tweeting: "Homophobia, in this day and age? How embarrassing, loco." During a performance on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon in February 2020, he called attention to the murder of transgender woman Alexa Negrón Luciano in Puerto Rico by wearing a shirt with the words "They Killed Alexa. Not a Man in a Skirt.”, referencing news reports that had misgendered Luciano. Openly gay singer Ricky Martin has stated that Bad Bunny "has become an icon for the Latin queer community" due to his outspoken support of gay and transgender Latinos as well as his embrace of drag culture. Suzy Exposito of Rolling Stone wrote of her belief that Bad Bunny's denouncement of gender violence will make harassers "perhaps think twice before they hassle any woman, or gender-nonconforming person, again."
Bad Bunny says he likes to live a calm life and immediately after a concert he leaves the area to avoid crowds. He disappeared from social media for a time when he was overwhelmed with his sudden rise to fame. Views of his videos on YouTube tallied seven billion in 2018. In 2019, Bad Bunny played on the "Away" roster during the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game at the Bojangles' Coliseum in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The rapper met jewelry designer Gabriela Berlingeri in 2017 at a restaurant while dining with his family, and the two began dating soon after. Berlingeri assisted Bad Bunny in recording the 2018 song "Te Guste" by providing scratch vocals for Jennifer Lopez's portions of the song. Bad Bunny kept his relationship with Berlingeri secret from the public until 2020. He explained his decision to publicly acknowledge their relationship by saying, “I am happy with her. [People] don't know she has helped me a lot in emotional aspects when I needed it the most." Berlingeri became the first Latina to shoot the cover of Rolling Stone when she photographed the rapper for the magazine's May 2020 cover.
- Studio albums
- Collaborative albums
Awards and nominations
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