Bad Bunny sounds tired on first “hello,” but his energy soon peps up. When we speak over the phone, he’s in the midst of wrapping up a U.S. tour, and a few nights earlier, he’d sold out Madison Square Garden. I ask how he feels about that milestone: “How do you think?” he replies. “Happy. Proud.”
The 25-year-old Puerto Rican trapero’s celebrity status exploded last year after a series of mega-hits, most notably “Mia” featuring Drake and “I Like It” with Cardi B and Colombian reggaetón star J Balvin, that charted high across multiple categories (the latter, of course, hitting number one on the Hot 100). In November, YouTube announced his placement as the third most played artist globally (just behind J Balvin, with fellow Puerto Rican artist Ozuna, who he also collaborates with, at number one).
In Puerto Rico, for a few years now, his music has been ubiquitous: Across the archipelago, any time of day, every day, the thick and booming, subtly garbled baritone of Benito Antonio Martinez Ocasio — el Conejo Malo — can be heard blaring from a passing car, pouring out the doors of a bar, on the radio, floating along the beach or reverberating from a neighbor’s apartment. You can even hear it onstage at queer drag shows.