Music

Bad Bunny Says He Makes Songs As if Only Puerto Ricans Were Listening, Forgetting “The Entire World” Listens to Him

A recent GQ profile on Bad Bunny perfectly encapsulates the pop star and rapper’s global appeal, why he’s become such a phenomenon everywhere from his native Puerto Rico to the far-off countries in which he tours, and why he’s been Spotify’s most-streamed artist for two years in a row. His star power feels as limitless as his abilities, and he’s the most exciting new pop star to hit the mainstream since Drake first came on the scene in the late 2000s.

Through the interview, which covers everything from Bad Bunny’s views on gender and clothing to his lifelong love of reggaeton music, one gets a real sense of the human being behind the superstar persona at the heart of his music.

Explaining his own relationship with clothing and the different intersections of masculinity and femininity, he said, “It depends on my state of mind. Everybody has to feel comfortable with what they are, and how they feel. Like, what defines a man, what defines being masculine, what defines being feminine?”

“I really can’t give clothes gender,” he continues. “To me, a dress is a dress. If I wear a dress, would it stop being a woman’s dress? Or vice versa? Like, no. It’s a dress, and that’s it. It’s not a man’s, it’s not a woman’s. It’s a dress.”

Bunny, whose real name is Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio, is known for his fashion-forward style that defies gender norms and current trends. One of his most recent outfits, which he wore at this year’s Met Gala, infused Puerto Rican history with the kind of gender non-conformity that has become his trademark.

There’s a similar refusal to conform in the way Benito makes his music. It was never his mission to become a globally recognized popstar, at least not strategically. “It happened organically. Like, I’ve never made a song saying, This is going to go worldwide. I never made a song thinking, Man, this is for the world. This is to capture the gringo audience. Never.”

“On the contrary, I make songs as if only Puerto Ricans were going to listen to them. I still think I’m there making music, and it’s for Puerto Ricans. I forget the entire world listens to me.” Again, it’s Benito’s ability to live and create on his own terms that have helped make him such a one-of-a-kind star.

Finally, there’s a touching excerpt about the music that raised him, most of it coming from his parents, who have supported him since he was a child. “A lot of salsa,” he says. “And my mom would listen to ballads, merengue, and Top 40 radio.” The profile also reveals that Benito would listen to reggaeton music in secret, away from his parents.

“The only thing they’d allow me to listen to was Vico C,” he says. “At that time, Vico C was street, but they allowed me to listen to him when he started to make cleaner music. But the first O.G. street artist they’d let me listen to was Tego Calderón. And that was the first one I was really hooked on.”

Soon enough, his parents would threaten to take away his Tego privileges if he didn’t do his chores or get ready for school fast enough.

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