Benito Martinez, widely known by his stage name, Bad Bunny, released his second solo studio album YHLQMDLG this past February. The release of this album gained a lot of social media attention, and also introduced a new sound to reggaeton music. With his presentation of not only his music but himself as an individual, it is not hard to see why so many people are hanging onto every project he has put out. He has given a name to Latin trap music all while taking down the toxic masculinity ideals that are present not only in mainstream society, but also in the Latinx Community.
Last Sunday, Bad Bunny held his first ever virtual concert, generating over 10 million viewers, which fans were able to stream for free on YouTube. Airing live from New York City, Martinez performed hit songs from all his projects while standing on top of a moving 18-wheeler bus. The dedication and care for his art is clear to all who listen to his music, and it is safe to say that no one is doing it like El Conejo.
Martinez, 25, has accomplished more in the four years that he has been making music than some artists who have been mainstream for longer than that. He picked up traction in the Latin music scene not only because of his music but because of his outspoken nature. He was incredibly vocal about issues present in Puerto Rico, and he has done nothing but live his life in the way that he pleases, inspiring his listeners everywhere. He has been nominated for three Grammys and has done collaborations with big artists such as Cardi B and Daddy Yankee. There is no doubt that YHLQMDLG will not be left out in this year’s awards ceremonies.
While he is a great songwriter and an even better performer, the hype surrounding Bad Bunny stems from his active role in social justice issues. In 2019, Martinez showed up to the Billboard Music Awards with acrylic nails and a lavender colored suit. While men painting their nails should not seem like a big deal, in the Latinx community, it is. There is a heavy machismo culture within the Lainx community that teaches its men to never participate in the customs of “women;” having their nails and makeup done is a big no-no. Bad Bunny has been incredibly vocal about the toxic masculinity in the Latinx community and has stated multiple times that he chooses to live his life in a way that pleases him, and that others should take that advice.
In his music video for “Yo Perreo Sola,” he dressed up in full drag and put on a performance that many viewers had never seen before. Not only was the video iconic, but his lyrics give his male listeners a piece of advice — that women live for themselves, and not for a man’s pleasure. Again, while this is something that should be common knowledge, it sadly is not within the Latinx community, and Bad Bunny has put this message into a song that is guaranteed to be played in clubs everywhere. The music industry is a male-dominated field; in fact, when looking at 800 songs on the Billboard 100 from 2012 – 19, it was concluded that “83.2 percent of artists were men, and only 16.8 percent were women.” The reggaeton music scene is no different, and, if anything, it thrives off of the objectification of women. Martinez in drag did more than prove a point; it made space for toxic masculinity in the Latinx community to be addressed.
It may seem that Bad Bunny’s fans praise him for what is seen as the bare minimum, but what he is doing as a Latin trap artist is revolutionary. In a community that is plagued by gender roles, it is figures such as Martinez who help start the conversations that older Latinx folk don’t want to have. He has been ridiculed and not taken seriously as an artist because of the way that he presents himself, but he has become an icon in the eyes of younger Latinx generations.
In the last song of YHLQMDLG, he states that he will be putting out another album in nine months (November 2020), and then he will be retiring the Bad Bunny name. While it pains many of his fans to see him leave, there is no doubt that he has paved the way for change in the reggaeton genre and has left behind music that will be cherished forever.
Feature image: Courtesy of Univision.