The Impact of Bad Bunny:
What he means to the Latin community and beyond.
By Andrea Morales
Photo by Pinterest.com
As a daughter of two Central American immigrants, I’m no stranger to listening to Latin music. Artists like Maná, Luis Miguel, Daddy Yankee, Shakira, and more regularly played on Saturday mornings while my mom cleaned our house with Fabulouso in hand. Even though these artists reached critical acclaim and tremendous success in Latin America, they still felt like my own little secret. For instance, when I would go to school, my friends had no idea who I was talking about. Instead, they were more concerned with the Black Eyed Peas, Lady Gaga, Maroon 5, or basically any American pop act from the early to mid-2000s. When I would be in my car on my way back home, I wouldn’t hear the iconic belts of Selena but would be serenaded by the voice of Kelly Clarkson. When I would get home to watch American award shows, the glittering lights always shone on artists who sang in English, never Spanish.
It’s memories like these that make me realize how much of a barrier has been broken in the American music industry. And this invisible boundary has in large part been broken by Benito Ocasio Martinez, or Bad Bunny. Today, a few of Bad Bunny’s awards/accomplishments include being a multi-Grammy-winning artist, being one of the most streamed artists on Spotify in recent years, having a number 1 album for more than ten weeks, and headlining a North American stadium tour with close to 30 dates.
I would like to stress the importance of Bad Bunny breaking into the American market. Not only is he keeping pace with mainstream American artists like Drake or Taylor Swift, but he is also staying true to his roots of Puerto Rico. Just last month in September, he released a music video accompanying his energetic hit “El Apagón”, meaning “the blackout”. This song is explicitly calling out Puerto Rican government officials for privatizing electricity on the island, leading to unreliable power for the majority of people. In the same song, he calls out westerners who come to the island and gentrify it, causing those with very little means to lose their housing.
In the video, he not only makes subtle references to his frustration with his government but also puts an accompanying 20-minute documentary detailing the exploitation Puerto Ricans currently face. Bad Bunny is also vocal about other issues facing his community like transphobia and violence against women. Being an activist is interwoven throughout his art as he has also made videos referencing these issues like in “YO PERREO SOLA” music video or in his song “Andrea” from his latest record-breaking album, Un Verano Sin Ti.
Bad Bunny breaking barriers and being a central player in the mainstream has impacted people like me. People who had never seen the language spoken at home be represented on ginormous platforms like the Grammy’s or the MTV Video Music Awards. He’s an icon to be sure, but he also uses this status for good as he draws attention to crucial social issues. Already such a global phenomenon, it’s exciting to see where he’ll go next.