Puerto Rican Slang and Culture Through Bad Bunny Lyrics in Photos
Puerto Rican reggaetonero and trap artist El Conejo Malo has gone from bagging groceries in his home town of Vega Baja, Puerto Rico to a full-fledged award-winning artist in the span of just a couple years. While the 25-year-old has become an international success, he’s committed to his roots and it shows.
His album X100pre Nochebuena is the gift that keeps on giving to the world. For any Boricua that has his album on loop, you might keep picking up on new gems along the way.
Or, if you’re like me and grew up in the U.S., I guarantee you will be delighted to learn what El Conejo Malo was referencing.
Here’s just some of what you might have missed from Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio’s debut album.
From santería to Puerto Rican world boxing champion Iván Calderón Marrero, his tracks might remind you of that one decade all your tías dressed in white or your machísmo tío’s poster shrine to Calderón.
We all know Bad Bunny se encanta los perreos.
It’s the most reggaeton and Boricua slang of the whole album, sneaking its way into almost every canción. Perreo is what you might have called “grinding” in middle school.
In “Como Antes,” the Tazos are little collectible discs found in Frito-Lay chip bags.
“Me puse a jugar Tazo” he sings, in reference to the toys. He also references the exact time Los Simpsons aired (a las cuatro).
Bad Bunny pays tribute to Daddy Yankee all album long.
In “Cuando Perriabas,” Bad Bunny sings, “Y bum, pa’ atrá’, bum-bum, pa’ alante/Este party es sólo para la gente que aguante.” Remember Daddy Yankee’s 2004 “Donde Hubo Fuego” when he sings the same verses? This whole song is basically a tribute to all the parties that gave birth to the perreos.
In “200 MPH,” BB gives another nod to Daddy Yankee’s appearance in Talento de Barrio.
Remember that 2008 film about Daddy Yankee’s escape from a life of drug dealing through reggaeton? The characters in the film were Dinero and Wichy, which is who Bad Bunny is referring to in the letra “Dinero, dinero, me falta Wichy.”
Unless you a Bori, you wouldn’t know “bichote” is slang for drug dealer.
Another nod at Talento de Barrio, BB sings about his young-hearted dream to become a bichote, a king in the streets. He also calls out the Puerto Rican government for closing down schools, which give way to “puntas” (a.k.a. trap houses).
BB expands from reggaeton to honor Nuyorican pianists and salsa artists también.
“Me siento Ray, pero Richie” refers to Puerto Rican pianist and composer Richie Ray who is known as “El Embajador del Piano.” “Rumba buena, timbalero” is about salsa band La Sonora Ponceña’s song “Timbalero,” a song many of us grew up dancing to while we cleaned the house.
In “Ni Bien Ni Mal,” BB pays tribute to Boricua trapero Miky Woodz.
He sings, “como dice Miky, no te voy a mentir.” That means BB has spooken: if you haven’t heard Miky’s 2017 song “No Te Wa a Mentir,” get to it.
We even hear allusions to santería, a religion only practiced in Afro-Latino Caribbean islands.
“Ando de blanco entero, flow santero” paints the picture of Boricuas, Cubanos y Dominicanos walking the streets in all white, in honor of the Yoruba-Catholic religion. Only Boris and our gente de islas know about the altars with bowls of holy water, statues of saints and candles hidden in their abuelita’s closets.
My all time favorite Bori slang is in “Caro.”
Your Spanish teacher will tell you that “caro” means expensive, but in Puerto Rico, it can mean a beautiful girl who knows her worth and will never sleep with you or more simply, self-worth. In “Caro,” BB flexes this imagery to combat the haters of his gender fluidity.
During the angelic interlude, Ricky Martin’s vocals add even more depth to the song.
¿Por qué no puedo ser así?
¿En qué te hago daño a ti?
¿En qué te hago daño a ti?
Yo solamente soy feliz
Every Bori remembers the decade of the chismosando dentro nuestros tías, all speculating on Ricky Martin’s sexuality. He was beautiful and everyone wanted to sleep with him, but he refused to comment on his identity until much later. This ballad touches on an inter-generational pandora’s box of emotions around Latino culture’s rigid expectation of sexuality and gender expression. BB knows his worth, and that “con dinero y sin dinero, mi flow es caro.”
“Otra Noche en Miami” is all about achieving the dreams BB had from his vantage point in PR.
“Pa’l Khalifa Kush tengo la conexión. Pa’l avenue Miami Beach, e’ mi dirección” Everything is going his way, but the shine of his Rolex doesn’t shine brighter than a loved one’s smile. This is the list of the dreams he had in Puerto Rico realized before he comes to the realization that they meant nothing.
“Estamos Bien” was released as a tribute to Puerto Rican resilience post-Maria, sí.
It’s about PR’s notorious potholes, courtesy of a lackadaisical government, and the determination and hard work of Boricuas regardless: “La Mercedes en P.R. cogiendo boquete, eh.” It’s also about BB’s own return to self. He gets the dream and becomes bored with the threesomes. It is also about the return to his island with his sanity restored.
“Solo de Mi” has quickly become the poster song for well-known cultural issues domestic violence in Latino homes.
Venezuelan actress Laura Chimaras seems to be invisibly beaten while singing about her self ownership. Eventually, the bruises clear and we head straight into a perreo where we hear references to Hector y Tito’s “Noches de Travesura” when BB sings “Hoy e’ noche ‘e travesura/hoy e’ pata’ abajo.”
“Baby me siento down” in “Si Estuviésemos Juntos” is love for his teenage emo heart for RKM & Ken-Y’s 2006 hit “Down.”
The album goes from high beat perreos to raw emotionality instantaneously. We get to have “Quien Tú Eres?” and then listen to “Caro” right after. In BB’s breakup song of the album, he isn’t defaulting to the trend of move on already pop hits. He wishes he did things differently and acknowledges his part.
“La Romana” is an ode to the DR, no question.
His collabs with Dominicano El Alfa prove that, but we still get a little spice of PR with “Ojalái, ojalái que esta noche tú sea’ mi mai, eh, hey“–an interlude in Voltio and Residente’s “Chulin Chulin Chunfly.”
“RLNDT” is about a lot of heavy mental health issues, but Boricuas hear an underlying societal message.
In 1999, a 5-year-old Puerto Rican boy, Rolando (Rolandito “RLNDT”) Salas Jusino went missing. He was never found, no matter how much attention the entire island gave the story. In BB’s music video, we just see a still of a 5-year-old baby Bad Bunny.
Your favorite aggro workout song “Quien Tu Eres?” embodies the energy of Iván Calderón Marrero.
BB is a self-professed fanatic of boxing. His music video for this song is just him punching this bag with a Puerto Rican flag behind him. Calderón was the Puerto Rican two-weight world boxing champ and untouchable hero for Puerto Rico.
Finally, “MÍA” both launches BB into the guy that got Canadian superstar Drake to sing in Spanish and still lift up Boricuas.
“Yo soy tu Romeo, pero no Santo” makes perfect sense on it’s own–he might be a romantic but he wants to have his way with you. It also gives a subtle shout out to bachatero Romeo Santos. Nice one, BB.
All we can say is, gracias, BB, for this time capsule tribute to the ’90s and early 2000s and a 2018 classic.
We’re still playing X100 PRE on repeat and earning our keep en La Neuva Religión. Mil gracias.