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How Bad Bunny Is Putting Latin Trap On The Map
There's a lot of buzz around Bad Bunny, whose been putting out hit after hit the last two years, several alongside pop heavy hitters, and has successful toured across the U.S., all before releasing a debut album. The Puerto Rican rapper born Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio is taking on the world by storm with his punctuating deep voice, playful style and ultra-catchy brand of Latin trap, a Spanish-language take on Atlanta-born trap music.
Bad Bunny has put out several solo hit songs of his own, but his raps, all of which are in Spanish, can be heard all over, including on Cardi B's No. 1 hit—and one of the biggest songs of the summer—"I Like It." The 24 year old star is clearly a master collaborator, with the lists of artists he has worked with ever-growing, he will keep spreading his sound and his name far and wide.
It almost seems as if Bad Bunny has magically appeared center stage over the last few months, taking over the U.S. airwaves with no prior warning, gaining new fans and new collab partners at blazing speed. The truth is that he has been putting out plenty of hit songs, primarily with Spanish language artists since 2016, primarily in the Latin trap and reggaeton spaces, but it was his feature on GRAMMY-nominated rapper Cardi B's "I Like It," which also features Latin GRAMMY-winning reggaeton star J. Balvin, that really put Bad Bunny center stage in English-language music market.
The song, released in May as the 4th single from Cardi B's debut album, Invasion of Privacy, earned all three stars a No. 1 hit, and has remained on the Billboard Hot 100 for the past 26 weeks. The hit may have been the first time many English-speaking Americans were exposed to Bad Bunny, and the collab has no doubt helped grow his English-language fan base. The rapper is growing momentum at a time where Spanish-language music has been increasingly penetrating American pop music, as we saw with "Despacito" in 2017. Now that he has gotten everyone's attention, Bad Bunny is not slowing down.
The buzz around the rapper started in 2016 when one of the self-produced songs,"Diles," he uploaded to his SoundCloud, gained popularity and launched a loyal following, including from Puerto Rican reggaeton artist DJ Luian, who signed him to his label Hear The Music. After getting signed, he released a remix of the track featuring established reggaeton artists Arcángel, Farruko and Ñengo Flow, along with up-and-comer Ozuna.
Bad Bunny continued to gain momentum in the Spanish-language market, working with more heavy-hitters, including GRAMMY nominee and Latin GRAMMY winner—and all-around reggaeton-legend—Daddy Yankee, on Yankee's 2017 DJ Luian-produced track, "Vuelve." Bad Bunny has been at the forefront of the growing Latin trap and reemerging reggaeton music scenes, with the music continuing to gain popularity among both Spanish speaking and non-Spanish speaking music listeners in the U.S. and around the world.
On Sept. 27 Marc Anthony, Will Smith and Bad Bunny formed a somewhat-unlikely yet very enticing trio with their upbeat single "Está Rico." The song features passion-filled Spanish language singing from GRAMMY and Latin GRAMMY winner Anthony and playful English language rapping from GRAMMY winner Smith, parsed with Bad Bunny's deep baritone Spanish language raps. This song is fun and playful and shows not only the versatility of Bad Bunny, but that everyone, even long-established artists like Anthony and Smith, want to work with him. It also made fans hope for more collabs with the Latin trap star.
On Oct. 11 many dreams came true when Bad Bunny released a track, "Mia," with the one and only GRAMMY winning rapper Drake. Just a day after its release the song is already trending big, with over 2.5 million views for the music video on YouTube. Drake surprised fans by delivering his ever-smooth raps all in (impeccable) Spanish, making the song completely Spanish language. We will have to wait and see if "Mia" can earn Bad Bunny another No. 1 hit, but it seems like signs point towards yes.
It is quite impressive how much momentum the young Latin trap star has made without having released his debut studio album yet. And while it feels like pretty much everyone wants to collab with him now, he is a strong, vibrant artist in his own right, and has put out several big solo songs, including his breakout hit "Diles" and "Estamos Bien," which he released this June. "Estamos Bien," which translates to "we're good" is a triumphant, celebratory track that gained almost 100 million views in several weeks.
In September he performed the song on the "Tonight Show" with Jimmy Fallon and dedicated it to the Hurricane Maria victims in his native Puerto Rico, asking others to follow him in supporting the still-recovering island. Even as Bad Bunny rises to the top he stays 100 percent himself, standing proudly in his Puerto Rican and Latino identity, paving the way and making space for other young Latino rappers.