In just over two years, Bad Bunny has gone from bagging groceries to shaping music culture as leader of the Latin trap explosion. In 2017, he landed an amazing 15 songs on Billboard's Hot Latin Songs chart, and this year, he went mainstream in a big way, scoring a Hot 100 chart-topper with his feature on Cardi B’s ubiquitous summer jam “I Like It.” Bad Bunny is quickly becoming an icon.
With Bad Bunny's star burning brighter by the day, Billboard and Honda teamed up to profile the global phenomenon. Bad Bunny explains the roots of his unique sound go back to his parents and the influences of his home country of Puerto Rico. He picked up salsa and merengue from his dad and pop ballads from his mom. When he found hip-hop, the final pieces fell into place.
"The first rap CD that I had, it was so different for me," Bad Bunny says. "The energy, the wordplay, all that caught my attention, and I liked it."
He eventually began working on songs during shifts at the supermarket and uploading them to SoundCloud. That's how he caught the attention of DJ Luían, who signed him to his Hear This Music label in 2016. DJ Luian connected Bad Bunny with producers the Mambo Kingz, who were impressed by more than just the newcomer’s music. There was also the matter of his personal style -- evident from his colorful sunglasses down to his shoes. “When I get dressed, it’s like freestyling,” Bad Bunny says. Not surprisingly, he’s become a fashion trendsetter as well as a musical one.
"If you go to a clothing store in Puerto Rico, the mannequins are Bad Bunny," says DJ Luian.
Asked to describe his music and style in three words, Bad Bunny goes with "original," "energetic," and "different." From choosing his outfits to writing his lyrics, the 24-year-old goes into each project fully prepared to make something special. "What keeps me motivated is love and passion," he says.
All of this has made Bad Bunny an in-demand collaborator. In addition to Cardi B, he’s worked with artists ranging from reggaeton stars Daddy Yankee and Karol G to Nicki Minaj, who jumped on a remix of his 2017 hit “Krippy Kush.” Earlier this month, Bad Bunny dropped “MIA,” featuring arguably the biggest name in music, Drake.
“The fame isn't important to me,” Bad Bunny tells Billboard. “It's a blessing to have. Having so many people that support me, that love me and listen to my music, is beautiful.”