Bad Bunny is a chart-topping Puerto Rican singer, rapper, and producer based in San Juan who has, since arriving on the scene in 2016, become a dominant voice in Latin trap, and general trendsetter for música urbana (a term for the contemporary Latinx urban music movement). What's most remarkable is how he achieved this popular status before he ever released an album. In 2018 alone, he appeared on or released four singles in the Top 100, including Cardi B's number one "I Like It" (also featuring J Balvin). Since issuing his own debut single in 2016, his dozens of recordings have appeared on an array of charts, ranging from Latin pop and reggaeton to dance and hip-hop lists. His 2018 debut album, X 100PRE hit the top spot on the Latin albums chart within a week of release. Bad Bunny's sweeping commercial appeal lies in his chameleon-like approach: he melds Latin soul, pop, and R&B, hard-hitting trap beats, and reggaeton with a slippery delivery that revels in allowing emotions to color his songs; they range from humor and pathos to heartbreak and anger (sometimes in the same song). He is one of the top collaborators in the música urbana movement. Because of his association with DJ Luian, Bad Bunny guested with a slew of top-name LatinX artists.
Born Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio in 1994, he began singing at five and always took it seriously. His biggest influences were Héctor Lavoe, Vico C, Daddy Yankee, and Marc Anthony. He studied audiovisual communication at University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo, and worked as a bagger at a grocery store while making his own music by night and posting it to SoundCloud. In particular, Bad Bunny's song "Diles" caught the ear of DJ Luian, who signed him to his Hear This Music label in 2016. His breakthrough single "Soy Peor," issued in December of 2016, peaked at 22 on the Hot Latin Songs chart, and established his trap-heavy sound with the masses. Its video rang up more than 650 million views. Appearances with Ñengo Flow, Arcangel, and Ozuna soon followed, and in early 2017 he kicked off an especially prolific run with the singles "Pa Ti," "Loco Pero Millonario," and "Dime Si Vas a Volver," amid numerous collaborative tracks with Poeta Callejero, Farruko, Brytiago, Almighty, and others. In late 2017, Bunny, J Balvin, and Prince Royce scored a hit with the collaboration "Sensualidad." The singles kept coming in 2018 — he notched another Latin hit with the solo track "Amorfoda" and collaborated again with J Balvin and American rapper Cardi B on her single "I Like It," which topped Billboard's Hot 100 in the summer of that year. On Noche Buena (Christmas Eve) of 2018, the most important day in the LatinX year, Bad Bunny issued his debut long-player X 100PRE to universal acclaim. The set was co-produced by reggaeton legend Tainy and La Paciencia (Roberto Rosado), with the exception of the club jam "200 MPH," which was helmed by Diplo. Its songs ranged from the pop-punk of "Tenemos Que Hablar" to reggaeton ballads including "Solo de Mí" and "Si Estuviésemos Juntos" to tense hip-hop on "Caro." It entered the Top Latin Albums chart at number one in early 2019, and in January peaked at number 12 on the Top 200. ~ Timothy Monger