The Life and Times of Bad Bunny – Artist Spotlight

Puerto Rico’s legendary reggaetón and Latin trap artist, Bad Bunny returns home this week for his highly anticipated shows on December 10 and 11 at San Juan’s Hiram Bithorn Stadium. Postponed in May 2020 due to the pandemic, the sell-out shows will launch the artist’s 2022 World Tour, “El Último Tour del Mundo,”–a name shared with his most recent album.

Music icon, global phenomenon and the defining spirit for a generation, Bad Bunny (AKA Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio) has come a long way from bagging groceries and posting experimental material on social media. In fact, his concerts are coming fresh off the heels of his Latin Grammys awards and nominations in November.

In 2016, at the age of 22, the artist exploded onto the scene and redefined what it means to be a Spanish-speaking musician. From a niche following in Puerto Rico and Latin America, Bad Bunny quickly established himself as a mainstream star lauded by critics around the world. His infectious ballad “Soy Peor” —Cada cual tiene lo que merece  (Everyone has what they deserve) ignited the genre now universally known as Latin trap.

Always true to his creative impulses and constantly pushing boundaries, Bad Bunny is one of the most authentic artists alive today. His lyrics are peppered with Puerto Rican slang—regardless of his audience. Bad Bunny’s otherworldly aura both confounds and inspires music critics. In the Mexican magazine Terremoto, music scholar Ren Ellis Neyra described his “sky-ripping, visceral gut-blow vocals that swarm a track.” Certainly, there’s an intimate conversational tone and a melodious cadence that infects the rapper’s melodies.

Embracing and even accentuating the Puerto Rican dialect, Bad Bunny always gives the impression that he goes wherever his mood takes him. The unconventional star is famous for his mystique and element of surprise: he never shares each song’s final version—not even with his collaborators—until it’s publicly released.

Since 2016, he has produced four chart-topping albums and performed to riotous acclaim at the Super Bowl, the Grammy’s and Coachella— where he famously exhorted in Spanish, “¡Quiero saber dónde están los latinos!” (I want to know where the Latinos are!). 

The era-defining star has become the poster child for Puerto Ricans across the world who are channeling art as a political statement. Over the last five years, each album release has uncannily mirrored key social and political events in the U.S. In the wake of Hurricane María, Bad Bunny released “Estamos Bien” which signaled the slow decay of the American dream: “Y si mañana me muero, ya estoy acostumbra’o a estar siempre en el cielo” (If tomorrow I die, I’m used to always being in heaven). In 2020, he became a Grand Theft Auto-inspired video game character in “Hablamos Mañana,” one of the seminal tracks on his record breaking YHLQMDLG album.

Debuting at No. 1 on the Top Latin Albums and No. 2 on the Billboard 200, Bad Bunny’s YHLQMDLG album feels like both an act of nostalgia and a reflection on current social issues. The rapper charges the classic bossa nova hit “The Girl from Ipanema” with a scintillating dose of urban reggaetón. In “Yo Perreo Sola,” he eulogizes the power of music, describing a woman who finds freedom dancing solo in a nightclub.

In his latest album “El Último Tour Del Mundo,” each track still reverberates with the beats of reggaetón that propelled him to stardom, but genre-bending compositions are now imbued with electronic, alternative, rock and new wave impulses.

For all his critical success, worldwide fame and fortune, there’s no place like home for Bad Bunny. He has repeatedly asserted that Puerto Rico remains his true north, his favorite place in the world, and the catalyst for his creativity. In an interview with Billboard in 2019, Bad Bunny revealed that his biggest music inspirations growing up were salsa maestro Héctor Lavoe, the “King of Reggaetòn” Daddy Yankee and Latin pop idol Marc Anthony. 

Across Puerto Rico, a feverish anticipation surrounds his highly anticipated shows at Puerto Rico’s Hiram Bithorn Stadium on December 10 and 11, 2021. The rapper will follow up the show with “El Último Tour del Mundo 2022,” which will kick off on February 9 at the Ball Arena in Denver, Colorado.