Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio: Bad Bunny, whose real name is Benito Antonio Martinez Ocasio, is a well-known Puerto Rican rapper and singer. He’s often referred to as the “King of Latin Trap.” What sets him apart is his remarkable success in the music industry. Bad Bunny became the first artist who primarily sings in a language other than English to be Spotify’s most streamed artist of the year, and he has held this position since 2020. In 2022, he set a new record by amassing over 18.5 billion streams on Spotify, the highest ever for any artist.
Bad Bunny hails from Vega Baja and began his music career in 2016 with the release of the song “Diles,” which led to a recording contract with Hear This Music. He went on to create hits like “Soy Peor” and collaborated with other prominent artists like Farruko, Karol G, Ozuna, and J Balvin. One of his breakthrough moments was in 2018 with the release of the single “Mia” featuring Drake and his appearance on Cardi B’s hit “I Like It” alongside J Balvin. Both songs reached the top of the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart.
His debut studio album, “X 100pre,” was released in 2018 and peaked at number 11 on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart. He also released a collaborative album with J Balvin called “Oasis” in 2019, which made it to the top ten on the charts. Bad Bunny’s second solo album, “YHLQMDLG,” made history in 2020 as the highest-charting all-Spanish album to appear on the Billboard 200.
In 2020, he released his third solo album, “El Último Tour Del Mundo,” which made history by becoming the first all-Spanish language album to top the Billboard 200. One of its lead singles, “Dákiti,” reached the top ten of the Hot 100 chart. His fourth solo album, “Un Verano Sin Ti,” released in 2022, spent 13 weeks at the top of the Billboard 200 and produced four highly successful singles. Remarkably, this album became the first Spanish-language album to be nominated for the Grammy Award for Album of the Year.
Bad Bunny’s music career has been showered with awards and recognition. He has received three Grammy Awards, four Latin Grammy Awards, eight Billboard Music Awards, and thirteen Lo Nuestro Awards. In 2022, Apple Music crowned him as the Artist of the Year.
Beyond his music, Bad Bunny has also ventured into professional wrestling. He made appearances on WWE programming in 2021 and even had his in-ring debut at WrestleMania 37. He is a one-time WWE 24/7 Champion and has participated in events like the 2022 Royal Rumble and the 2023 Backlash pay-per-view.
Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio, born on March 10, 1994, grew up in the Almirante Sur neighborhood of Vega Baja, Puerto Rico. His family background is rooted in music – his father, Tito Martínez, worked as a truck driver, and his mother, Lysaurie Ocasio, is a retired schoolteacher. They often enjoyed listening to various music genres, including salsa, merengue, and pop ballads.
Benito has two younger brothers, Bernie and Bysael. Unlike some of his peers, he wasn’t drawn to street life; he preferred spending time at home with his family.
During his childhood, Benito was a regular churchgoer, attending weekly services with his deeply Catholic mother. He even sang in the church choir until the age of 13. After leaving the choir, he started developing a keen interest in the artists he heard on the radio, with a particular fondness for musicians like Daddy Yankee and Héctor Lavoe.
His unique stage name, “Bad Bunny,” has an interesting origin. It stems from a time when he was compelled to wear a bunny costume, an experience that didn’t sit well with him and left him feeling rather irritated.
Regarding the Puerto Rican music scene, he once mentioned that he hails from Vega Baja, a smaller area compared to the metropolis of San Juan, where most of the genre’s prominent artists have their roots.
Musical style and influences
Bad Bunny is widely recognized as a Latin trap and reggaeton artist, known for his distinctive style. His singing and rapping are characterized by a conversational tone, often delivered with a low, slurry quality, fluid melodies, and a rhythmic cadence akin to that of a rapper.
Over the years, Bad Bunny has drawn inspiration from a diverse array of artists spanning various music genres. Some of his influences include Héctor Lavoe, Vico C, Romeo Santos, Juan Luis Guerra, Elvis Crespo, Ricky Martin, Juan Gabriel, Don Omar, Daddy Yankee, Ivy Queen, Tego Calderón, Wisin & Yandel, Calle 13, Víctor Manuelle, and Marc Anthony, among many others. He considers himself a “music fanatic,” which is why he finds inspiration in such a wide range of artists.
In an episode of “Behind the Music,” he discussed the significant impact of Ricky Martin on Latin music and Latin artists. He credited Martin with reshaping the music landscape for future Latin artists. Additionally, in his music video for “Neverita,” Bad Bunny paid tribute to the music video for “Suavemente” by Puerto Rican artist Elvis Crespo. In the end, he left a message translated from Spanish as “In honor of the best video of all time.” This tribute was well-received, and Elvis Crespo later created a merengue version of the song, which he performed at the 2022 Latin Billboard Music Awards.
While Bad Bunny is primarily associated with Latin trap and reggaeton, his music is eclectic, incorporating elements from various other genres such as pop, hip-hop, rock, electronic, reggae, dancehall, Latin, soul, and R&B. Some publications have credited him with bringing Latin trap into the mainstream English-language music market.
Bad Bunny’s lyrics cover a broad spectrum of themes, ranging from humor and pathos to heartbreak and anger, sometimes within the same song. His music also explores themes of self-love, inclusivity, and LGBTQ acceptance, contributing to the diversity of his musical expression.
According to Vanessa Rosales of CNN, Bad Bunny is seen as a trailblazer in redefining masculinity through his fashion choices, often sporting pink attire, florals, and short shorts.
Notably, he has made appearances at award shows with meticulously manicured and long fingernails, challenging traditional gender norms. This unique style has had a notable influence on fellow Latin artists, who have increasingly adopted his vibrant blend of streetwear and tailored fashion, as highlighted by Ben Beaumont-Thomas of The Guardian in 2020.
In 2017, while dining at a restaurant with his family following a performance at a Zion and Lennox concert, Bad Bunny crossed paths with jewelry designer Gabriela Berlingeri. Their professional collaboration soon evolved into a personal relationship, although they initially kept it private. This became evident when Berlingeri provided reference vocals for Jennifer Lopez, who was featured on Bad Bunny’s track ‘Te Guste.’ It wasn’t until 2020 that they made their first public appearance together at a Dallas Mavericks versus Miami Heat basketball game in Miami. Shortly after, Bad Bunny openly declared his love for her in an interview with Entertainment Tonight.
On March 7, 2020, they shared their first pictures together on social media, with a post on Bad Bunny’s Instagram. Their collaboration extended beyond their personal life, with Berlingeri contributing to tracks like “En Casita” in 2020 and “El Apagon” in 2022. She also took on the role of the photographer for Bad Bunny’s Rolling Stone cover in May 2020, marking her as the first-ever Latina to shoot the magazine’s cover. However, their romantic relationship came to an end in late 2022.
Rumors of Bad Bunny’s involvement with model and media personality Kendall Jenner began circulating in February 2023 when TMZ spotted them leaving a restaurant together. Photos and videos of their outings continued to surface online over the following months, with their first official public appearance as a couple at an NBA playoff game between the Lakers and the Warriors on May 12, 2023. In September 2023, the pair teamed up for a photoshoot as part of Gucci’s Valigeria campaign, which explores the intimacy of traveling together.
In July 2018, Bad Bunny found himself in a controversy when he criticized a nail salon in Asturias, Spain, for refusing to provide service to him simply because he was a man. His post on the matter sparked outrage among some of his fans, leading to the emergence of homophobic comments and questions regarding Bad Bunny’s own sexuality. In response to the hate-filled comments, he offered a rather tongue-in-cheek response, suggesting that he could impregnate the wives of those criticizing him. However, he later deleted the post and issued an apology, eventually deactivating his own Twitter account.
Bad Bunny’s stance in support of LGBT rights became evident in January 2019 when he criticized a tweet by fellow reggaeton artist Don Omar, which was considered to be homophobic.
During a performance on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” in February 2020, he used his platform to draw attention to the tragic murder of transgender woman Alexa Negrón Luciano in Puerto Rico. He did so by wearing a shirt with the words “They Killed Alexa. Not a Man in a Skirt,” referencing the misgendering that had occurred in news reports about the victim.
Ricky Martin, a prominent figure in the LGBTQ+ community, acknowledged Bad Bunny’s impact, referring to him as an icon for the Latin queer community. This recognition is due to Bad Bunny’s consistent support of gay and transgender Latinos as well as his embrace of drag culture.
In 2023, Bad Bunny received the Vanguard Award for allyship from the queer advocacy organization GLAAD. Ricky Martin had the honor of presenting him with this award at the 34th GLAAD Media Awards, celebrating his significant contributions to the LGBTQ+ community.
Notably, Bad Bunny has publicly expressed that he views his own sexuality as fluid. In a 2020 interview with the Los Angeles Times, he explained, “At the end of the day, I don’t know if in 20 years I will like a man. One never knows in life. But at the moment I am heterosexual and I like women.” This fluidity was on display at the 2022 MTV Video Music Awards when he shared a kiss with a male dancer during his performance of “Tití Me Preguntó.”
Bad Bunny has been an outspoken advocate for humanitarian causes, particularly in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria’s devastation in Puerto Rico. He criticized the inadequate humanitarian aid efforts following the disaster and took action by establishing the Good Bunny Foundation. This foundation’s primary mission is to provide toys to underprivileged children in Puerto Rico.
In recognition of his humanitarian efforts, Bad Bunny received a nomination for the “Humanitarian Award of the Year” at Telemundo’s inaugural Premios Tu Música Urbano in 2019.
On July 22, 2019, Bad Bunny joined forces with other prominent artists, including Residente and Ricky Martin, as well as over half a million Puerto Ricans. Together, they took to the streets and staged a protest that effectively shut down the Expreso Las Américas, a major highway also known as the Autopista Luis A. Ferré. Their demonstration was a powerful stance against government corruption and a call for the resignation of then-Governor Ricardo Rosselló from the office of Governor of Puerto Rico.
In May 2020, Bad Bunny had not publicly taken a stance regarding the Puerto Rican statehood movement and mentioned that he would provide a more clarified response at a later time. However, by January 2021, he made his position clear, stating that he would not want to see Puerto Rico become a U.S. state. It was important to note that his viewpoint did not necessarily advocate for Puerto Rican independence but rather opposed the territory’s admission as the 51st state.
In March 2023, a woman who had been in a relationship with Bad Bunny from 2011 to 2016 took legal action by filing a $40 million USD lawsuit against the rapper and his manager. The lawsuit alleges unauthorized usage of a recording of her voice from 2015, in which she can be heard saying, “Bad Bunny, baby.” This recording was allegedly used without her consent in the songs “Pa Ti” and “Dos Mil 16.”
Professional wrestling career
Bad Bunny, a lifelong fan of professional wrestling, made his mark in the American promotion WWE in 2021. His involvement in WWE began during the annual Royal Rumble event on January 31, 2021. At the event, he performed his song “Booker T” live, and it featured an appearance by the former wrestler Booker T. Subsequently, Bad Bunny started making appearances on WWE’s weekly television show, Monday Night Raw.
Wrestler Damian Priest, also of Puerto Rican descent, joined forces with Bad Bunny in WWE. Together, they won the WWE 24/7 Championship from Akira Tozawa on the February 15 episode of Raw. However, Bad Bunny relinquished the 24/7 Championship to R-Truth on the March 15 episode in exchange for “Stone Cold” Steve Austin memorabilia, concluding his reign at 28 days.
One of the significant highlights of Bad Bunny’s wrestling journey was at WrestleMania 37, where he made his in-ring wrestling debut. He teamed up with Damian Priest in a tag team match, defeating The Miz and John Morrison.
In 2022, Bad Bunny made his return to WWE at the Royal Rumble, competing in the men’s Royal Rumble match. He managed to eliminate Sheamus and Dolph Ziggler and lasted until the final five, where he was eventually eliminated by the winner, Brock Lesnar.
On January 23, 2023, it was announced that Bad Bunny would be featured as a playable wrestler in the WWE 2K23 video game as a pre-order bonus. Then, on March 8, 2023, he was revealed as the host for WWE’s upcoming event, Backlash, which was set to take place in his hometown of Puerto Rico.
During WrestleMania 39 on April 1, 2023, Bad Bunny joined the Spanish announce team to provide commentary during the match between Rey Mysterio and Dominik Mysterio. He even intervened in the match to prevent Dominik from attacking Rey with a chain. However, during a Raw episode two nights later, Bad Bunny, who was sitting ringside as a fan, was attacked and chokeslammed through the announcers’ table by his former partner Damian Priest, who had aligned with Dominik Mysterio in The Judgment Day.
But Bad Bunny wasn’t done. On the April 24 episode, he made a dramatic return, attacking Damian Priest with a kendo stick and announcing that instead of hosting Backlash, he would face Priest in a San Juan Street Fight at the event.
Moreover, on the May 5 episode of SmackDown, Bad Bunny came to the aid of the Latino World Order (LWO) to rescue Rey Mysterio from an attack by The Judgment Day. This led to Rey Mysterio giving Bad Bunny an LWO t-shirt, symbolizing his inclusion in the group. Finally, at Backlash on May 6, Bad Bunny emerged victorious in a San Juan Street Fight against Damian Priest, much to the delight of his hometown fans.