Being Yourself with Bad Bunny
To be Bad Bunny is to be the voice of a generation while remaining unmistakably yourself; to stay rooted in your culture while taking your music global; to be wildly famous and a little misunderstood.
When it comes to Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio, there is one thing we can all agree on: His voice is a force of nature. A pounding baritone that announces itself like a trumpet. Even when he bends that voice in a 100 different directions, it is distinctly his—and also incredibly Caribbean. Pretty much everything else about the 25-year-old is likely to draw a cacophony of opinions. But before we get to those opinions—and his opinion of those opinions—a brief history lesson: Benito, known by his stage name Bad Bunny, is a Latin trap and reggaeton singer from Vega Baja, Puerto Rico. He grew up going to church with his mom, where he sang in the choir, until a passion for skateboarding and freestyle rapping took over. Four years ago the tracks on his SoundCloud page caught the attention of Hear This Music and he was signed to the powerhouse Puerto Rican label. It was the start of a heavy run that’s included chart-topping collaborations with J Balvin, Cardi B and Drake as well as a full-length album, X 100pre (an abbreviation of “Por siempre” in Spanish).
Workwear shirt, $1,750, Persian Jacquard trackpants, $1,480, and LV Trainer sneakers, $1,140, all at Louis Vuitton, Lenox Square; sunglasses and jewelry, Bad Bunny’s own.
Now, it’s impossible to imagine a world where hits like “Callaita” and “I Like It” don’t play on repeat at house parties, and where tough-guy male rappers don’t wear nail polish and bubblegum pink. Bad Bunny’s camp style and sentimental lyrics are equal parts nostalgic and melodramatic in a way that feels just right for his generation. But if you ask him how it feels to be so influential, he’ll tell you he’s just being Bad.
Bad Bunny photographed with Allora & Calzadilla’s “Unspecified Promise,” 2017. Workwear shirt, $1,750, Persian Jacquard trackpants, $1,480, and LV Trainer sneakers, $1,140, all at Louis Vuitton, Lenox Square; sunglasses and jewelry, Bad Bunny’s own.
What inspires you?
Living is what inspires me. Every day we live something different. It’s a different experience, a new adventure, for me as an artist visiting a new city, a new country and seeing all the different cultures. Through those experiences there’s a new inspiration for me. I think a lot of people can relate to this, and I know sometimes we stick to the most common answer, which is parents, a family member, a teacher, etc., and that is true—you grow up looking up to someone and wanting to become like them—but when you grow up, then you realize that inspiration comes from yourself and the experiences you live through.
Best advice ever given to you?
Never give up on myself. That I’m capable of accomplishing whatever I put my mind to.
How would you describe your personal style? Do you have a style icon?
My style honestly depends on my mood. I love fashion, but I definitely let my mood guide me to what I want to wear. I don’t think I have a style icon per se, but I do have a favorite era of my favorite fashion, and that’s the ’90s and early 2000s.
Bad Bunny wears Eric-Paul Riege’s “Hóló,” 2019; sunglasses and jewelry, Bad Bunny’s own.
You having your nails painted, etc., has made Latin trap a genre of inclusivity. How does that make you feel?
Wow, honestly when I started painting my nails, it was something random that I did one day, I believe it was for an award show, one of my first ones, and I woke up that day, saw the yellow polish and decided to get them painted. I was just feeling it. I didn’t think it was going to become such a big deal. Goes back to me doing things because of my mood. How does it make me feel? Well, good, because I think what people got from it is to just be you and who cares about the opinions of others.
Do you see yourself as a social activist?
I don’t see myself as one. I see myself as another person in the community who goes out there to defend his rights. I am aware that I have the platform to influence people to go out and speak up, but I’m just like them, someone in the community who’s speaking up. I just want people to know that we have the power to stand up for what we believe.
White technical organza bomber jacket, $74,000; CD Dior and Daniel Arsham trouser chain (worn as necklace), CD Dior and Daniel Arsham drop earrings, and all-over Dior Oblique motif ring, all price upon request; Diormercure sunglasses, $475; all at Dior Men, dior.com.
What’s the biggest difference between Benito and Bad Bunny?
Bad Bunny es la herramienta para expresar lo que Benito piensa. [Bad Bunny is who I use to express what Benito is thinking.]
What is something you own that you really cherish?
My friends and family.
Do you collect art? Who are some of your favorite artists?
I do have an appreciation for art, but I have to admit I don’t have a lot of time to grow a collection. I would love to one day.
Cotton trench coat, $4,560, by Maison Margiela x Mackintosh at mackintosh.com; chain trousers, $945, by Rhude at ; rubber boots, price upon request, at Dior Men, dior.com.
Sweater, price upon request, by Chanel at chanel.com; chain trousers, $945, by Rhude at; rubber boots, price upon request, at Dior Men, dior.com; jewelry, Bad Bunny’s own.
Biggest misconception people have about you?
I’m going to be real, I don’t know the answer to this question because I don’t care what others think about me. I’m true to myself, and if you notice I’m barely on social media because I don’t care to read the negative thoughts people may have about me. I don’t care to be someone I’m not, and those around me know that and accept me for who I am. Be authentic—that’s what matters the most. People will always have something to say or some misconception.
What’s next for you in your career?
Mmmm, a lot of music. I’ll always have that. I’ll continue to surprise everyone. I do want to give acting a try, and hopefully that opportunity comes up and I can discover a new passion. For now, I can promise you that I will continue being me, and by that I mean I will surprise you. I don’t like to say too much; I like to keep things low key and when I’m ready to share with the world. You’ll find out on social media. Hahaha.
What do you want to be doing five years from now?
This question is always a tough one. I don’t like answering because I prefer to live in the now. What am I going to do today? Probably write a new song and get on a stage somewhere in the world to do what I love doing the most.
Camo parachute zipped hoodie, $3,150, at Louis Vuitton, Lenox Square; sunglasses and jewelry, Bad Bunny’s own.