The story behind Bad Bunny, a rabbit that jumps from hit to hit

Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio works bagging purchases for customers at a supermarket in Vega Baja, a city half an hour from San Juan, Puerto Rico. Six years later he will be conquering other types of “markets”, breaking records in the music industry.

The oldest of the three Martínez Ocasio brothers was born on March 10, 1994, in San Juan, Puerto Rico. His childhood has been spent in Almirante Sur, another town in the country. His mother is an English teacher and demands English punctuality from him, his father is a truck driver and steals the sneakers he does not use to give them to other kids in the neighborhood, who, he considers, have more difficulties than his children.

He usually dresses as a rabbit on the typical days when children dress up to celebrate Carnival. That’s where his alias comes from, Bad Bunny, from there and from a photo of him as a child dressed as a rabbit and with a bad face.
At the age of 13, Benito —for whom the salsa singer Héctor Lavoe was God— composes and produces his first songs on the computer and uploads them to the Soundcloud application. He has faith. At neighborhood garage parties he brings out his pubertal, nasal voice. In San Juan, Puerto Rico, he gives short concerts to make himself known. Meanwhile, in the Vega Baja store, he amuses himself analyzing the clientele, families with limited resources and other wealthy ones. He takes a couple of years of Communication at the University of Puerto Rico, and leaves it. He could have been a movie director.

He doesn’t know how to play instruments or read sheet music. He dreams of learning to play the piano before he dies. But he knows how to trap and that’s how he sticks his curly head out on the music scene. (Google the definition of trap and it appears that it is an urban musical subgenre that was born in the 1990s; marked by a shameless character, outspoken lyrics about the street, drugs, violence and a shared feeling of complaining about the situation of young people).

Bad Bunny starred in a kiss with his dancer Nigel O’Brian, upon learning of his award at the MTV Video Music Awards.

AFP / The Country

In 2020 he is already the number 1 global artist on Spotify. The jump to popularity in the industry of the

Reggaeton gives it with ‘Diles’ in 2016, with lyrics that scandalize the most modern of dads: “I do have flow, he doesn’t have flow. I hammer you and give you a dembow”. With this song he gets his first record deal.

To trap, a subgenre of rap, the so-called ‘Bad Rabbit’ mixes reggaeton rhythms from his land with hints of pop, bachata and rock ballads, singing in his native language and in a jargon unintelligible to his detractors and daring, to his followers. .

He collaborates with artists of the genre: Ozuna, Farruko, Arcángel and Ñengo Flow. Her success is spreading on Instagram, SoundCloud and YouTube. DJ Luian listens to him and proposes to launch him outside of Puerto Rico under the independent label Hear This Music. At the end of 2016 he came out with Soy Peor, a slow trap: “I’m not in love for months. I’m not here to fight or stupid things, find someone else to kiss you. None of those bastards look like me”, and a Latin rap star is born, say the connoisseurs of urban music.

He does, literally, what the acronym with which he titles his musical work means, winner of the American Music Awards for Latin Album of the Year: YHLQMDLG: “I do what I want”. ‘The Last Tour of the World’ is the first work, completely in Spanish, to debut at the top of the Billboard 200 list.

No one convinces him to sing in English. At least not for now. He has acted with Drake, with Cardi B, with Jennifer Lopez, always in Spanish. “We have to break that idea that gringos are gods… No, daddy,” he says.

She generates scandal as she goes, and not only because of her skirts, her painted nails and her outlandish glasses —since she was a child she has been more attracted to female clothes than male clothes, she sees them as more creative and dynamic—, she also does so with her triumphs, such as in 2020 when the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers awards him the award for Latin composer.

While the criticism against him intensifies, his followers increase, totaling 42.7 million on Instagram and 26.8 million on TikTok, and the subscribers of his YouTube channel reach 43.1 million. Her popular video clip ‘Dákiti’ (it is the name of a beach in San Juan and also a feeling of euphoria), exceeded 350 million views in a month and a half.

bad bunny

In the year 2021, the artist was chosen as one of the 100 most influential people in the world in Time magazine.

AFP / The Country

His albums are: El Conejo Malo, X 100pre, YHLQMDLG, El Último Tour del Mundo and Un Verano sin Ti; a compilation: Las que no Iban a Salir, and a collaborative album with Colombian J Balvin: Oasis. With all of them he has broken records. They say that he is the successor of Daddy Yankee and they give him the king’s crown for being able to get hits in less than 24 hours.

Among his madness is the taste that Bad Bunny has for interviewing himself, it’s like a kind of self-examination. One of his most recent questions was what mark his parents left on his career, the answer: “Responsibility, discipline; the perseverance of my mother, the honesty of my father”.

He gets as much criticism as 100-dollar bills in his songs: “that’s part of the fronteo, the urban genre. I always try to maintain that balance and always be with the roots, with the street… In the end, I like it, I grew up listening to that. Sometimes there are people who criticize it, but the public likes it, they like to sing it”.

It is not known how hard the criticism hits him, but as for the rejection of reggaeton, he has his own opinion: “it will never be overcome, that is like racism or homophobia. It sounds ugly, it sounds horrible, I don’t know if I woke up negative today, but that’s something that will never end, “he told a renowned Spanish newspaper that” For a VIP, a VIP, hey! Say hello to Titi. We’re going to take a selfie. Say ‘Cheese’, hey!”

For him, “reggaeton is a genre that comes from the street, from the underground, from poor people who had no options. Sometimes even criminals, but I don’t mean that in a derogatory way. People who got out of jail, or sold drugs, and finally saw a light in that genre. Many were able to abandon that lifestyle and buy a house and a car. I think that’s where the rejection comes from. But it doesn’t bother me, they can say what they want, there is a whole world dancing to the songs, enjoying life without prejudice”.

In February 2020, he is invited to the Super Bowl LIV Halftime Show, and stars in a memorable performance with Shakira, Jennifer López and J Balvin. Weeks later he releases his second album, ‘I do what I want’: “I was a good bastard, to perrear, to break the road”, he laments because the pandemic breaks out and with it the confinement.

You must give up the big concert in Puerto Rico, forget the tour, the tour of Europe, the discos. The Rabbit becomes restless, strange to act. He goes to his room and in front of the mirror he sings and dances, he imagines the public singing along. He releases a compilation album of Las Que no Iban a Salir. And in November he publishes The Last Tour of the World.

It is quarantine and he records ‘En casita’, a song with his partner, the model and jewelry designer Gabriela Berlingeri —whom he married in the music video ‘Titi asked me’—. She is 28 years old, just like him, and he is her inspiration. They sang El Apagón together, she accompanied him in René Pérez’s video ‘Antes que el mundo se acabe’, along with other famous couples, she was also the photographer for Bad Bunny’s cover for Rolling Stone. It also motivated him to compose many songs for her album ‘A summer without you’, in whose promotional video she also appears. It has been said that they are expecting a child.

Bad Bunny and Shakira

In February 2020, he is invited to the Super Bowl LIV Halftime Show, and stars in a memorable performance with Shakira, Jennifer López and J Balvin.

AFP / The Country

But also many believed that after ‘YHLQMDLG’ he would release one more album and leave the noise for a while, as he said. To others it sounded like an advertising strategy. “I said it because I felt it; I change my mood suddenly, I’m very sentimental”.

And he did disappear from the scene from 2016 to 2018, “I was in a capsule, not knowing anything. The world saw me, but I was missing”, remembers who woke up one day in Argentina and discovered that a relative of his was sick, that more cousins ​​had been born, that he needed to see more boxing matches and movies. He was in Argentina and returned to Puerto Rico. They were in the middle of racial protests. “I was going through a situation where I didn’t feel well,” says the person who had disconnected from his mobile phone and social networks, but he came back.

The interpreter of La Canción, Callita, Loca, Soltera, I Like It, Má, Soy Peor and Titi Asked Me, has already arrived in Hollywood with his participation in ‘Bullet Train’, a film in which he shared credits with Brad Pitt, Joey King , Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Hiroyuki Sanada, and Brian Tyree Henry. He was also part of the most recent installment of ‘Fast and Furious’, where he had a special participation. He is also in the third season of Narcos: Mexico’. And that he fears the stage.

Bad Bunny and Brad Pitt

‘Bullet Train’ is the name of the film in which he shared credits with Brad Pitt and Joey King. She also was part of the most recent installment of ‘Fast and Furious’, where she had a special participation.

AFP / The Country

“I am proud to sing in Spanish, in the Spanish we speak in Puerto Rico, without changing the accent.” Bad Bunny, singer.

Bad Bunny has achieved a lot in a short time. This August he became the first non-English speaking performer to win the Artist of the Year award at the MTV Video Music Awards. He has won 130 awards in the music industry and is one of the most listened to artists on the playlists of major digital platforms.
On Spotify alone, it reached more than 8.3 billion streams in 2020, a figure that exceeded the following year with 9.1 billion views, and 5.3 billion views on its YouTube channel.

For Gilberto Cárdenas, from GCQ Promotions, artistic representations, El Conejo Malo has undoubtedly become a musical phenomenon, regardless of the content of his lyrics, his staging or his vocal skills. “Today, he is the artist with the greatest global recognition and something that should make us feel proud, is that he is Latino and with Spanish he is opening the doors for us in many markets where we did not think to arrive before.”

For him, this artist is not overrated as many think, “he is simply a talent that arrived on the music scene only six years ago and, with a very particular style, has managed to conquer the taste of youth, the one that consumes music the most. urban. This is a reality and whoever wants to go against this, I think, is simply going to crash with the musical taste of the public”.

Others like Fr. Art de Comunicaciones, Hernán Arce, agree that there are few like this artist. For him, the secret of the Puerto Rican’s success lies in the fact that it came at a key moment for the promotion of his career, since it was just over six years ago when the genre had already gained great strength in the music industry. “The genre needed to be refreshed, it is undeniable that this music is macho and Bad Bunny came to reverse it. Not only with her lyrics, her music is different, she makes urban fusions with different genres. So her success is being and doing different things. She knows and understands very well the culture that is consuming her music.”

But although his talent has him at the top, his music and his character have been, for many, hates and loves. Detractors of the artist have said that these songs “are neither art, nor dance, nor dance, nor lyrics, nor singing, nor music, nor anything”, at least that is what the Mexican singer-songwriter, radio host and musician, Rodrigo de la Cadena, for whom the language, in the mouth of this representative of reggaeton, has been the most affected: “It has been disfigured, twisted; he has become amorphous in the lyrics of these clunkers that usurp the name of the song. People pay whatever it takes for that, but they don’t go to listen to music but go to venues to become hoarse screaming, to see a bizarre ‘playback’ full of lights and surrounded by dancers doing the thing of a technological product, fictitious, of marketing”.

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The story behind Bad Bunny, a rabbit that jumps from hit to hit