Who Is Bad Bunny?

bad bunny

This year’s Apple Music Artist of the Year and newly-minted multiple 2023 Grammy nominee, Bad Bunny, is way more than the sum of his parts. Which is why we are taking a deep dive into the man who made his fifth album, Un Verano Sin Ti, into 2022’s biggest selling album, and his summer-autumn American tour into one of this season’s highest grossing live showcases. That’s because the Puerto Rican rapper, composer, and performer born as Benito Antonio Martinez Ocasio has forever been prolific beyond his newest album and tour schedule. If nothing else, Bad Bunny – along with J Balvin and Rosalia, credit where credit’s due – for música urbana ever since he began making records in accordance with all things Latin pop, Latin trap and reggaeton.

2022’s Un Verano Sin Ti is just the tip of Bad Bunny’s quickly melting iceberg.

One thing to note, beyond biography, is how Bad Bunny – whether through his earliest SoundCloud songs such as “Tentación” in 2014, and “Diles” in 2016, or more recent tracks – stuck to his guns, and his native tongue, by composing and performing in Spanish in a low, slurry voice, its liquidy delivery and an emotional range that could make him theater worthy. (Then again, fluidity is the name of Bad Bunny’s game as he refuses to pander to Latin machismo a result, is apt to paint his nails, wear skirts, and kiss men as he did during 2022’s famed Yankee Stadium sell out).

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After signing his first record label deal in 2017 with Hear this Music, his singles such as “Soy Peor” and a collaboration with Karol G, “Ahora Me Llama”, leapt atop the Billboard Hot Latin Songs chart’s Top 20. That same year, after Bad Bunny began hosting Beats 1’s first Spanish-language show, Trap Kingz, his remix of “Te Boté” with Ozuna and Nicky Jam ran straight number one on the Hot Latin Songs chart. A star was born, one renowned for reggaeton, hip hop and Latin trap, with rock, bachata, soul, and collabs with Daddy Yankee, Jhay Cortez, Arcangel Residente, J Balvin, Farruko, and more to follow.

Some early life stats: Bad Bunny was born on March 10, 1994, which makes him 28 years old in 2022. He was born and raised in a middle class Christian Catholic community of Almirante Sur, Vega Baja, Puerto Rico, was educated at the Baldwin School and the University of Puerto Rico at Recinto de Arecibo, identifies as both Puerto Rican and American, and follows the Catholic faith.

bad bunny

Bad Bunny’s parents are not rabbits, but rather teachers and truck drivers, Lysaurie Ocasio Declet and Tito Martinez, and he has two brothers, Bysael Martinez Ocasio and Bernie Martinez Ocasio. Bernie? Bad Bunny is also not married but, he has been with jewelry designer and musical artist Gabriela Berlingeri since 2017 (she sang on his track “En Casita”). For all of his open-minded attitude toward sex and gender (“It does not define me,” he said in 2020. “At the end of the day, I don’t know if in 20 years I will like a man. One never knows in life. But, at the moment, I am heterosexual and I like women”), so far, he is all about female bunnies. All 5 feet, and 11 inches of him.

Back to his career and its collaborations, “Sensualidad” with J Balvin (of Colombia), and Prince Royce (of the Dominican Republic) is the track that put him on the U.S. map, and in Cardi B’s face, as she, Bunny, and Balvin recorded the track “I Like It” in 2018. The song, which features Bad Bunny’s bilingual rapping, topped Billboard’s Hot 100 and won him his largest audience in North America at that point. 

After Cardi B, another American rapper, Drake, paired up with Bad Bunny for “Ma” (“Mine”) later that year, peaking at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100, setting the stage for the Bunny’s first album X 100PRE (an acronym for por sempre, or “forever”) at year’s close – an album filled with reggaeton as well as electro pop-punk, hip-hop, and Jamaican dembow. Next, Bunny reunited with J Balvin for Oasis, the 2019 collaborative album, and one that fused Spanish, Latin American, and African rhythms.

bad bunny

Cardi B and Drake aside, the Super Bowl of February 2020 and its halftime performance starring Jennifer Lopez and Shakira at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens – with Bad Bunny as their special guest – is how he gleaned his greatest viewing audience to that point, a showcase that primed him for his next solo album release, YHLQMDLG (an abbreviation for Yo hago lo que me da la gana, or “I do whatever I want”), and a winner at the Grammys for Best Urban Album.

In 2020, Bad Bunny released El ltimo tour del mondo (“The Last World Tour”), the highest-charting album ever released in Spanish, not long before he started his association with wrestling’s WWE and its annual Royal Rumble of 2021. Along with performing “Booker T” live at the Royal Rumble (dedicated to the hero wrestler of the same name), Bad Bunny’s appearance catapulted him to additional gigs on WWE’s weekly television show, Monday Night Raw. Wrestler Damian Priest, a fellow Puerto Rican, even credited Bad Bunny with helping him win the WWE 24/7 Championship from Akira Tozawa on the February 15 episode of Raw. On Raw’s March 15 episode, Bad Bunny relinquished the 24/7 Championship to R-Truth in exchange for Stone Cold Steve Austin memorabilia. A fan obviously. The next year, for the 2022 Royal Rumble, Bad Bunny jumped into the ring, competed in the men’s Royal Rumble matches, beat several wrestlers (the famous Sheamus and Dolph Ziggler) and lasted until the Final 5, when he was eliminated by the Royal Rumble’s victor, Brock Lesnar.

Few pop stars could say that a wrestling championship would be a precursor to one of pop’s largest album’s 2022’s Un verano sin ti (“A Summer Without You”), which similarly went straight to the top of the charts upon release – but that’s Bad Bunny.

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As for activism, many Bad Bunny’s songs have willing political and social commentary. After Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, he wrote “Estamos Bien” to convey the island’s resilience. Bad Bunny played the song on Jimmy Fallon’s The Tonight Show, where he mentioned that people in Puerto Rico still did not have access to electricity one year after the hurricane that hit in September 2017. Bad Bunny’s 2018 single “Sólo de M” focused on the issue of abuse against women in Latin American households. Bad Bunny wore a garment that said, “Mataron an Alexa, no a hombre con falda,” that translates to, “They murdered Alexa, not a guy in a skirt,” at a subsequent Tonight Show visit in 2020 to draw attention to the killing of a gay woman in Puerto Rico. In 2020, during the Covid lockdown, he performed was at Harlem Hospital, singing for the staff. In his homeland, after text communications indicated the governor and some other leaders were sexist, homophobic, and mocking storm victims, Bad Bunny participated in rallies in July 2019 demanding their resignation, wrote the anti-government anthem “Afilando Los Cuchillos,” and encouraged voters to cast ballots in the upcoming 2020 election.

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The Good Bunny Foundation was established by Bad Bunny to help low-income kids. He worked with the Deja Tu Huella initiative by Cheetos to provide $500,000 to ten students who are making a difference in their communities.

For all of his good deeds and great music, Bad Bunny has collaborated with Adidas on clothing and footwear designs. He has starred in Netflix series Narcos: Mexico, Brad Pitts action-packed Bullet Train, will soon be seen in the comedy, American Sole, and is the possessor of the greatest American dream role – a part in the MCU as the Spider-Man character El Muerto, a character who was a champion wrestler who fought Spider-Man in a charity wrestling match.

Bad Bunny has been shortlisted for 190 prizes, and he has taken home 72 of them. Bad Bunny has been honored by the likes of the El Premio ASCAP, the ASCAP Pop Music Music Awards, the ASCAP Rhythm and Soul Awards, the Billboard Latin Music Awards,American Music Awards, the Billboard Music Awards, iHeart Radio’s Music Awards, the Latin American Music Awards, the Latin Grammys, the Premios Juventud, MTV’s Video Music Awards, Spotify’s Music Awards, Telmundo’s Tu Musica Urban Awards, and has earned an estimated $18 million in 2022.

    • A.D. Amarosi's Headshot

      A.D. Amorosi is a Philadelphia-based journalist who, along with Philadelphia Weekly, writes for numerous local, national and international publications including Variety and the Philadelphia Inquirer.

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