Raw. Jaded. Passionate. Vulgar. Sincere. All words that describe the lyrical themes that made Bad Bunny one of the biggest sensations of the decade. This paired with a fuming combination of explosive urbano beats had tens of thousands of concert-goers losing their minds every time El Conejo Malo queued the next song at Barclays Center on Friday (Dec. 6).
Donning a black denim jacket, jeans emblazoned with skulls that lit up, and a black surgical mask to boot, Bad Bunny emerged boosting the confidence of a full-fledged global superstar. And rightfully so: just this year, he headlined Baja Beach Fest, rocked out at Coachella, and closed the Latin Grammys at its 20th anniversary show.
On Saturday, an enormous cylindrical screen hovered behind him, displaying visuals that matched every song from his three-year career, which he performed on a stage shaped like a cross. “How many of you in attendance heard my first album X 100Pre?,” the Puerto Rican rapper asked. “Thanks to all who’ve heard it; I made it with lots of love, endearment,” he said, referring to his debut album, released a year ago on Christmas Eve. The set landed Bad Bunny his first No. 1 on the Top Latin Albums Charts and ends the year as Billboard’s Top Latin Album of 2019.
But it was just three years ago when Bad Bunny broke through with his dark trap paen, “Soy Peor,” a grim and menacing confession about a young man whose heart has blackened from romantic betrayal. “Who has followed my music since the beginning?” he shouted. Then, when the star-studded “Te Boté” played, El Conejo testified the lasting power of a now classic banger. “Tu Sensualidad” brought in a more sunnier disposition before he went back to his raunchy roots with “Dile,” inspiring massive perreo outbursts all across the stadium, as did the flirty trap of “Si Tu Novio Te Deja Sola.”
“Though I don’t know you personally, you are all very important to me, and I mean that from the bottom of my heart,” he said in between songs, pausing to immerse himself in the exhilarating energy coming from the neon-cladded, chain-rocking urban kids to the myriad provocatively-dressed ladies, and even a middle-aged burly man dressed as a gigantic Easter bunny who wouldn’t stop hopping to the star’s jams.
“If you didn’t show up tonight nor have listened to my music, you’d still be very valuable to me,” he continued. “Because every human being is. Honor that because everyone has the right to be happy and free, make their own decisions, and live life how you please.” He then launched into the intoxicating flow of “Caro.”
Throughout the night, Nintendo-esque pixel images of the star himself, krippy kush, and retrowave-styled artwork abounded above him, as gyrating dancers kept it lit amid pyrotechnic off-shoots. Then portraits of punk and rock greats — The Misfits, The Ramones, Linkin Park, and many others — came to the screen, further revealing Bad Bunny’s uncanny musical DNA.
Though he crossed over as an international trap idol just a few years ago, his unflinching take for genre experimentation is what makes Bad Bunny truly unique. Just take the recent and invigorating trap corridos he did with Mexican newcomer Natanael Cano, or his slick approach to seductive rap alongside Drake.
“¡Dónde está Argentina, Uruguay!” he shouted out on Saturday. “¡Colombia. Mexico. Puerto Rico. La Republica Dominicana!” he said, calling to every nationality. “¡Que viva la raza!” he added.