Kate Linthicum (Los Angeles Times) focuses on how Bad Bunny (born Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio in Puerto Rico) “broke every rule of Latin pop—and became its biggest and brightest star,” infusing his reggaeton lyrics with inclusive politics, statements on sexual fluidity, and declarations against gendered oppression, and sporting his particular sense of fashion.
Bad Bunny had just finished performing with Shakira at the Super Bowl halftime show and was being rushed back to his dressing room when he stopped. “Listen, we’re going to stay here,” he told his handlers. “The show’s not over yet.”
For the next few minutes, as the crowd of 65,000 screamed for Jennifer Lopez and fireworks streaked the Miami sky, the 25-year-old Puerto Rican rapper lingered on the field. He danced with friends, posed for photos in his glittering, Swarovski-encrusted suit and took a moment — just a moment — to revel in the fact that in a handful of years, he had gone from bagging groceries at a supermarket to all of this.
“It was overwhelming,” he recalls. “And I said to myself then: ‘I have to slow down and enjoy things more.’” It can be tough finding time to take stock of your life when you’re one of the fastest-rising stars in music.
In just a few years, Bad Bunny has remade reggaeton with his inclusive politics, freaky fashion and moody trap beats, challenging the genre’s deeply rooted stylistic and social norms while becoming one of the most streamed artists on earth.
At the same time, he has blazed new paths in the American market, churning out chart-topping hits with the likes of Cardi B and Drake and playing the country’s biggest arenas, all without the backing of a major label and all while rapping almost exclusively in Spanish.
Amid the collapse of traditional music genres and soaring global demand for urbano — an umbrella term that includes reggaeton, Latin trap, dancehall and dembow — everybody wants a piece of Bad Bunny.
And that is why, rather than taking a six-month break in sunny Puerto Rico that he had planned after two years of nonstop touring, he is here, shivering in Chicago, where he is taking part in the annual NBA All-Star Weekend. Bad Bunny loves basketball — a tribute song he wrote when Kobe Bryant died became an unexpected hit — and he couldn’t say no when he was invited to play in the celebrity game and rub shoulders with his favorite players.
[. . .] On the front of his shirt is a skull made of crystals. On the back are the letters YHLQMDLG. That stands for “Yo Hago Lo Que Me Da La Gana” — the title of his new record, out Friday, and a phrase that is his mantra in life. Translation: I do what I want. [. . .]
Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio grew up in Vega Baja, a town about an hour from San Juan, the oldest son of a truck driver (his father) and a teacher (his mother). He always tried to stand out, wearing above-the-knee shorts favored by skaters and flashy patterned shirts, a kind of preppy swag look distinct from the baggier hip-hop garb popular at the time.
“My dad would say, ‘You’re really going out like that?’” he recalls. “But he always supported me.”
Growing up, Benito soaked up the sounds of iconic reggaeton rappers such as Daddy Yankee and Vico C as well as the Juan Gabriel and Héctor Lavoe that his mom blasted while they did housework. He still loves listening to salsa. [. . .]
For full article, see Los Angeles Times