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How Bad Bunny Is Putting Latin Trap On The Map
The young Puerto Rican rapper is bringing Latin trap to the mainstream with countless hits, many of them big collabs, all before putting his first album out
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.
Photos: (Top row) Jaime Nogales Medios y Media/Getty Images; Latin GRAMMYs/Getty; Erika Goldring/Getty Images; Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Coachella; Mike Coppola/Getty Images (Bottom row) David Livingston/Getty Images; JOSE ALAVEZ
Listen To GRAMMY.com's Hispanic Heritage Month 2023 Playlist: Featuring Shakira, Peso Pluma, Karol G, Bad Bunny, Feid, & More
In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, listen to 50 songs by groundbreaking artists from the U.S., Latin America, and Spain.
Latin music continues to make incredible strides, as language barriers between the world and music in Spanish and Portuguese become a thing of the past.
After going through a difficult chapter in her life, Shakira found healing and empowerment through her anthems, including her surprise collaboration with Argentine producer Bizarrap. Karol G made history in March when her album Mañana Será Bonito debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart. She became the first woman to top the chart with an all-Spanish LP.
Regional Mexican music became a global force this year thanks to the success of acts like Peso Pluma, Eslabon Armado, Grupo Frontera, Fuerza Regida, and Yahritza y Su Esencia. Many of them argue that Mexican music is no longer regional. Also, Feid, Myke Towers, and Young Miko have become breakthrough stars with their music being streamed on the same level as heavy-hitters in English.
In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, GRAMMY.com is celebrating Latin music through the biggest and most impactful songs of 2023. Below, take a listen to 50 songs by Latin artists from the U.S., Latin America, and Spain —- including "BZRP Music Sessions, Vol. 53" and "Ella Baila Sola" — on Amazon, Apple Music, Pandora and the Spotify playlist below.
Graphic Courtesy of the Latin Recording Academy
Latin GRAMMYs 2023: Song Of The Year Nominees — Read Them Here
Here are the nominees for Song Of The Year at the 2023 Latin GRAMMYs, which will air Thursday, Nov. 16 from Sevilla, Spain.
The Latin Recording Academy has announced the complete list of nominees for the 2023 Latin GRAMMYs, and the race for Song Of The Year is on.
The prestigious Category features this year’s most-nominated artist, Mexican American songwriter and producer Edgar Barrera, who earned an impressive 13 nods. It also includes three Colombian singers who have collaborated with Barrera — Karol G, Camilo, Shakira — the latter of whom set a record as the first artist to have three entries in Latin GRAMMYs' Song Of The Year Category.
The 2023 Latin GRAMMYs show will also make history, as the Thursday, Nov. 16, ceremony will be the first-ever international telecast in the history of the organization and awards, broadcasting from the Conference and Exhibition Centre (FIBES) in Sevilla, Spain.
Read on to learn more about the 10 bops nominated for Song Of The Year, and the artists and songwriters that penned them. (All lyrics noted below are translated from Spanish.)
"Acróstico" — Kevyn Mauricio Cruz Moreno, L.E.X.U.Z, Luis Fernando Ochoa & Shakira, songwriters (Shakira)
"Acróstico," the third lead single from Shakira's upcoming 12th studio album, is a heartfelt love letter to her young sons Milan and Sasha, in the wake of her split from their father Gerard Piqué. The tear-jerking ballad features her sons' vocals.
The track's Spanish title translates to acrostic, which is a poem where the first letter of each line spells out a word — and in Shakira's song, the opening lyrics spell out Milan. "This year Milan has written songs that have made me tear up, and Sasha has dedicated hours playing the piano and discovering his voice. Both have spent some time with me in the studio, and upon hearing this song, they've asked to be part of it," she wrote in Spanish in an Instagram post about the song.
Shakira co-wrote the song with a powerhouse team of Colombian gold:Keityn and L.e.x.u.z, of La Crème collective, and longtime collaborator Luis Fernando Ochoa, who first linked with Shakira back in 1995 on Pies Descalzos. (Keityn, born Kevyn Mauricio Cruz Moreno, also worked on two of Shakira's other big 2023 hits and Song Of The Year contenders: the record-breaking "Shakira: Bzrp Music Sessions, Vol. 53" with Bizarrap and "TQG" with Karol G.)
"Amigos" – Pablo Alborán & María Becerra, songwriters (Pablo Alborán Featuring María Becerra)
Spanish singer/songwriter Pablo Alborán linked up with Argentian reggaetónera María Becerra on "Amigos," a platonic love song to the friend that always has your back — and makes life a party. They wrote the sweet, vibey song together for his late-2022 album, La cuarto hoja.
"Amigos" opens with a chilled guitar instrumental, building up to an anthemic shout-it-with-your-bestie chorus: "I can see life in color/ the whole neighborhood looks at us/ We drink the hours as if it were liquor."
"De Todas Las Flores" – Natalia Lafourcade, songwriter (Natalia Lafourcade)
On "De Todas Las Flores," the title track of Natalia Lafourcade's first album of all original music in seven years, she beautifully paints the picture of a lost love. "Of all the flowers we plant/ There are only a few left/ Every morning they wonder/ When you will arrive to sing to them," she sings over sparse, tenderly melancholic instrumentation.
The backing vocals offer ethereal ooohs and ahhhs, like the fading memories shared with the lover no longer there. The Latin GRAMMY- and GRAMMY-winning Mexican singer/songwriter has always been a compelling storyteller, and it's a joy to hear her rich voice share new sonic poems on the project she's called an "extremely personal musical diary."
"Ella Baila Sola" – Pedro Julian Tovar Oceguera, songwriter (Eslabon Armado, Peso Pluma)
"Ella Baila Sola" (or, she dances alone) was written by 20-year-old Pedro Tovar, lead singer of Mexican regional band Eslabon Armado. It's about two friends noticing a pretty girl at a party, and one of them winning her affection.
The song features rapidly rising Mexican singer/rapper Peso Pluma, who is bringing Mexican corridos worldwide, fused with reggaetón and Latin trap. The dynamo pairing has helped "Ella Baila Sola" have a massive, record-breaking run; after it went viral on TikTok, it became the first regional Mexican song to reach the Top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 (reaching No. 4) and the first performed on late-night TV. It was also the most-streamed song globally on Spotify this summer, and second-most streamed song in the U.S.
"NASA" – Édgar Barrera, Camilo & Alejandro Sanz, songwriters (Camilo & Alejandro Sanz)
On "NASA," Latin GRAMMY-winning Colombian singer/songwriter Camilo teams up with Latin GRAMMY- and GRAMMY-winning Spanish star Alejandro Sanz to ask his lover for forgiveness for what he admits is unwarranted jealousy.
"I know/ That NASA has cameras rotating in space/ They spend day and night looking up and down/ And I'm about to call and ask for a job/ To see if I relax." It's a tender, vulnerable love song with playful lyrics exchanged back-and-forth by the two Spanish-language crooners, who also co-wrote the song together.
"Ojos Marrones" – Luis Jiménez, Lasso & Agustín Zubillaga, songwriters (Lasso)
"It's the first time/ I invited someone/ Since you left/ And I'm fine," Lasso opens on "Ojos Marrones," before revealing he's only kinda sorta fine. "Nothing is the same / Nothing is the same/ Nothing/ without your brown eyes," Lasso repeats empathetically in the chorus.
It's a sunset-hued pop rock heater with dreamy guitar licks reminiscent of those in Chris Issak's classic "Wicked Game." The Venezuelan singer/songwriter paired up Luis Jiménez and Agustín Zubillaga to pen the impactful track about trying — and failing — to get over an ex with a new lover, which is featured on his latest album, Eva. The track went viral on TikTok after a user compared its narrative to Justin Bieber's relationships, and its success spawned a remix with Sebastian Yatra.
"Shakira: Bzrp Music Sessions, Vol. 53" – Santiago Alvarado, Bizarrap, Kevyn Mauricio Cruz & Shakira, songwriters (Bizarrap Featuring Shakira)
It's an understatement to say that Shakira has had a momentous year. As she went through a very public separation — and tabloids across the globe zeroed in on her every move and social media post — she proved yet again she's a global pop superstar at the top of her game.
She started the year off with the viral "Shakira: Bzrp Music Sessions, Vol. 53," a sassy, synth-pop clap back at her ex. In just 24 hours, it garnered over 15 million streams on Spotify to top the platform's Top 50 global list, and the video saw over 55 million views on YouTube, the record for a Spanish-language track.
On it, she asserts herself and reclaims her power — who needs trashy gossip rags when Shakira is here to tell it like it is? "A she-wolf like me/ isn't for guys like you," the Colombian queen declares. "I was out of your league/ That's why you're/ With someone just like you," also coming for her ex's new girlfriend (the Casio he traded in for a Rolex, as Shaki put it). The fiery diss track came out of a session with forever-sunglassed Argentinan DJ and producer Bizarrap. They co-wrote the song with Keityn and Santiago Alvarado.
"Si Tú Me Quieres" – Fonseca, Yadam González & Yoel Henríquez, songwriters (Fonseca & Juan Luis Guerra)
It was a dream of Latin GRAMMY-winning Colombian singer/songwriter Fonseca to collab with Latin GRAMMY- and GRAMMY-winning Dominican superstar Juan Luis Guerra. "Si Tú Me Quieres" is a sweet tropical pop love song, a gorgeous result of Fonseca's dream brought to life.
It was co-produced by Colombian pop/rock king Juanes, and was co-written by Fonseca with two Latin GRAMMY-winning songwriter/producers: Puerto Rican Yoel Henríquez and Cuban Yadam González. When Fonseca finished the initial demo, he imagined Luis Guerra's distinctive voice on it, who quickly agreed to join in on it. They bring their voices, styles and homelands together for a joyful fiesta, with delightful touches of Colombian vallenato and Dominican bachata.
"Tqg" – Kevyn Mauricio Cruz, Karol G, Ovy On The Drums & Shakira, songwriters (Karol G Featuring Shakira)
Shakira and Keityn strike again — this time alongside Colombian reggaetónera Karol G, and her regular collaborator Ovy On The Drums.
On "TQG," Karol G and Shakira link up for the first time and come for their exes, reminding them who's on top. "You left and I went triple 'M'/ Much hotter, much tougher, much more class," Shakira sings defiantly.
"TQG" stands for te quedó grande, which roughly means too much for you to handle, and is featured on Karol's fourth album, MAÑANA SERÁ BONITO. When Karol saw the gossip fodder about Shakira, she knew she was the perfect collaborator to add fire to the reggaetón diss track,which she wrote with Keityn and Ovy during the same session of "Mamiii," her collab with Becky G.
"Un X100to" – Bad Bunny, Édgar Barrera, Marco Daniel Borrero & Andrés Jael Correa Ríos, songwriters (Grupo Frontera Featuring Bad Bunny)
With "un x100to," Grupo Frontera, a Texas-based regional Mexican band specializing in norteños, struck gold and brought regional Mexican music to the top of the charts. The song peaked at No. 5 on Billboard's Hot 100 — the fifth regional Mexican song ever to chart on it — with a little help from Puerto Rican superstar Bad Bunny.
Frontera lead singer Adelaido "Payo" Solis II and Bad Bunny sing passionately about trying to reconnect with an ex with a harrowing 1 percent battery left on their phone, on a playful romp that mixes norteño and cumbia. What makes the track even more remarkable is that Grupo Frontera didn't know Bad Bunny would be on the track until he appeared at the music video shoot — proving that sometimes the most impactful collabs can come from an unexpected pairing.
Photo: Andrea Asibor
Herbal Tea & White Sofas: That Mexican OT Brings Mexico To Every Live Show With This Beverage
Some might prefer water and tea while on tour, but Texas-based rapper That Mexican OT gets all of his energy from a cold bottle of Mexican coke.
If there is one thing That Mexican OT will do while on tour, it's stay hydrated. But not necessarily with water — he prefers an ice-cold glass of Mexican Coca-Cola.
"This bad mama jama right here is a go-to for sure," he says in the latest episode of Herbal Tea & White Sofas. "A big part of me loving this is the Mexican heritage, but it also goes down perfectly."
Compared to American Coke, he says the Mexican version has a better taste because it uses natural cane sugar and no high fructose corn syrup.
When That Mexican OT wants something healthier, he opts for cranberry juice. "It's good for your kidneys," he shares. "Those antioxidants will keep you clean and running good, baby."
In his dream world, he would love to have a giant water slide in every green room. "I'm talking about a 20 to 40-footer," he quips with a smile. "Something simple. Easy to hit those dips."
You can catch That Mexican OT live on the Lonestar Luchador Tour through the United States, which ends on Oct. 4 in Oakland, California.
Press play on the video above to learn more about That Mexican OT's two favorite drinks to have while on tour, and check back to GRAMMY.com for more new episodes of Herbal Tea & White Sofas.
Photo: Simone Joyner/Getty Images
New Music Friday: Listen To New Songs From Travis Scott, Britney Spears, NewJeans & More
July 21 marks a big day of new music releases, including star-studded collaborations like Travis Scott, Bad Bunny and The Weeknd's "K-POP" and a new EP from NewJeans. Hear some of the biggest new songs on GRAMMY.com.
Like so many New Music Fridays before it, July 21 brought a cornucopia of fresh and unique sounds from all over the map.
Want to hear Travis Scott, Bad Bunny and the Weeknd get mellow and psychedelic? Raring to hear the latest dispatch from a One Direction member? Want a taste of A$AP Rocky's long-awaited next album? Is a Britney-shaped chunk missing from your musical life? Want to hear the future of K-pop?
To these and other questions, this slew of tunes will provide answers. In the below roundup, hurtle into the weekend with wildly divergent sounds from some of music's top acts — many with sizable GRAMMY legacies.
Travis Scott, Bad Bunny, The Weeknd — "K-POP"
A week before nine-time GRAMMY nominee Travis Scott's Utopia livestream event at the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt on July 28 — which will debut his new studio album of the same name — he dropped his sixth collaboration with four-time GRAMMY winner the Weeknd.
"K-POP," the album's lead single, is rounded out by three-time GRAMMY winner Bad Bunny, in his first collab with Scott. This triple-threat track has a stony, smoldering feel, with luxurious production from Boi-1da, among others — and it's elevated by its panoramic, transportive video.
ZAYN — "Love Like This"
The former One Direction member continues his solo legacy with "Love Like This," his first new single since 2021.
Therein, ZAYN extols the virtues of throwing caution to the wind when it comes to infatuation: "Everything is on the line, but I would rather be dead/If it's gonna mean a life that's lived without you, baby," he sings. "I think I gotta take that risk/ 'cause I cannot go back."
In the video, ZAYN putters around on a motorcycle on a gorgeous day. Previously signed to RCA, the singer recently moved to Mercury Records; could "Love Like This" be the ramp-up to a new album? If so, "Love Like This" offers a tantalizing taste of what's to come.
will.i.am, Britney Spears — "MIND YOUR BUSINESS"
After the termination of her conservatorship, GRAMMY winner Britney Spears dipped a toe back into her music career in 2022 with "Hold Me Closer," a duet with Elton John that includes elements of "Tiny Dancer," "The One" and "Don't Go Breaking My Heart."
Now, she's back in earnest with "MIND YOUR BUSINESS," a sassy, pulsing, electronic duet with seven-time GRAMMY winner will.i.am of Black Eyed Peas fame. The track marks the pair's fourth team-up, and first since 2014's "It Should Be Easy" from Spears' Brtiney Jean.
NewJeans — "ETA"
GRAMMY.com called NewJeans one of 10 K-Pop rookie girl groups to watch in 2023, and keeping ears on them has paid off. On July 21, they released their new EP, Get Up, to critical acclaim: NME declared that "no one can hold a candle to K-pop's rising wonder girls."
Concurrently with the release of Get Up, they released a joyous, iPhone-shot music video to its effervescent single, "ETA," in which a group of girls find a friend's boyfriend making moves on another lady.
Chris Stapleton — "White Horse"
Chris Stapleton's last album, 2020's Starting Over, helped the country crooner make a clean sweep at the 2022 GRAMMYs. At that ceremony, he won golden gramophones for Best Country Solo Performance ("You Should Probably Leave"), Best Country Song ("Cold") and Best Country Album ("Starting Over").
On Nov. 10, the eight-time GRAMMY winner will release his next LP, Higher. As he revealed the news on July 21, Stapleton also unveiled a majestic rocker of a single, "White Horse." "If you want a cowboy on a white horse/ Ridin' off into the sunset," he sings thunderously, "If that's the kinda love you wanna wait for/ Hold on tight, girl, I ain't there yet."
A$AP Rocky — "RIOT (Rowdy Pipe'n)"
For his latest track, A$AP Rocky dropped a stylish, charming short film for Beats depicting a harried diaper run (a fitting narrative for the new dad, soon to be dad of two, with partner Rihanna). That only contains a minute of the song, though; it's worth luxuriating in the whole thing.
To an uneasy, lumbering beat, Rocky extols a lifestyle to die for ("My wife is erotic/ I'm smokin' exotic/My whip is exotic") as well as his unparalleled connections ("I just call designers up, I free ninety-nine it").
Backed by 13-time GRAMMY winner Pharrell, "RIOT (Rowdy Pipe'n)" is said to be the first single from A$AP Rocky's long-awaited fourth album, Don't Be Dumb; if the quality of the track is any indication, it'll be worth the long haul.