A report by Karen Zraick for The New York Times.
Kevin Fret, a Puerto Rican social media star who billed himself as the first openly gay Latin trap artist, was fatally shot in San Juan early Thursday, according to the police and local news reports.
Mr. Fret, 25, was riding on a motorcycle in the Santurce neighborhood at about 5:30 a.m. when he was shot twice, in the head and the hip, the police said. He was taken to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
The police had not yet released the name of the man who was shot pending identification of the body, but Mr. Fret’s manager, Eduardo Rodriguez, confirmed his death in a statement to Billboard.
His death came amid widespread concern about crime in Puerto Rico; on Wednesday, the top F.B.I. official there said the island was facing “a crisis of violence.”
In an article published in April, Paper Magazine called Mr. Fret “Latin trap’s first openly gay pioneer.” That month, he released a single titled “Soy Así,” or “I’m Like This.”
The “Soy Así” video, which has been viewed over 500,000 times on YouTube, opens with Mr. Fret wearing a glittery crop top and matching skintight pants, holding a (presumably fake) rifle. Surrounded by women in skimpy outfits, he boasts about his looks, makeup and designer gear, and calls himself “the reincarnation of Frida Kahlo.”
“I’m a person that doesn’t care what anybody has to say,” he told the magazine.
“Young gay guys or young lesbians that are looking at me now like a role model, like wow, if he did it, and he don’t care what anybody else has to say, I can do it.”
Latin trap originated in the Caribbean in the mid-2000s, mixing Southern hip-hop with local sounds. Bad Bunny, Messiah and Ozuna — all of whom have worked with Cardi B — are among its best-known practitioners.
In a statement to Billboard, Mr. Fret’s manager, Mr. Rodriguez, said his client was “an artistic soul, a big-hearted dreamer.”
“His passion was music,” he added, “and still had a lot to do.”
In July, Mr. Fret appeared in a video by the artist Mike Duran, for a song called “Diferente.” There were familiar tropes — money, bikinis — but Mr. Fret’s appearance, rapping in a rainbow mesh T-shirt in a hot tub, and later in a crisp white shirt with a glitter crown and impossibly long eyelashes — was, in fact, very different.
Samy Nemir Olivares, a Puerto Rican writer and activist who lives in New York, said Mr. Fret represented hope for people like himself, who had faced bullying and harassment for their sexual orientation.
“Kevin Fret represented a refreshing view in a music genre that is very homophobic and very machista,” he said.
Mr. Fret used the braggadocio and performativity of the genre to make the case for inclusivity, Mr. Nemir Olivares argued.
“In Puerto Rico, that’s an act of resistance,” he added.
But it did not always go smoothly. Mr. Fret had responded forcefullyafter he was the target of homophobic threats in the lyrics of a rival artist, which left some questioning whether his killing had been motivated by hate.
The police were searching for another man on a motorcycle who was with Mr. Fret when he was found, but quickly fled. There was no indication of the motive so far.
He had a large following on Instagram, but no posts were visible on Thursday, indicating that he may have deleted previous posts. There was just one “story”: a religious saying that translates to “Pray, relax and let God do the rest.”