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For global phenomenon Bad Bunny, Puerto Rico remains his playground, battleground and muse


Should you’re younger, Latino and barely vulnerable to melodramatics, you may be the sort of one that stays up for a midnight Unhealthy Bunny album launch.

Within the streaming age, the now-familiar “shock” Unhealthy Bunny album drop has turn into an internet ceremony of passage for his international fan base, which appears to develop exponentially with each document. Upon final Friday’s launch of “Un Verano Sin Ti,” or “A Summer time With out You,” followers took to their telephones and computer systems to communally enjoy its 23 songs. A procession of Puerto Rican nostalgia, every observe is a time capsule stowing reminiscences of epic seaside events and gone-but-not-forgotten flings, touched with a residual island saudade. “Unhealthy Bunny could have you lacking anyone who by no means existed,” remarked followers on social media, who dressed their timelines with essentially the most noteworthy lyrics and recorded themselves grooving alongside to their favourite tracks.

Even in case you don’t personally match the aforementioned character sketch of a Unhealthy Bunny fan, it’s getting more durable to bypass the fanfare that surrounds the 27-year-old singer-MC, on-line and in any other case. Within the days earlier than he dropped “Un Verano,” he was modeling customized Burberry on the Met Gala, dishing with Whoopi Goldberg on “The View” and selling his lead position within the upcoming film “El Muerto,” by which he’ll play the primary Latino superhero to guide a live-action Marvel movie. (Come late September, he’ll make two stops at Inglewood’s SoFi Stadium, a part of his 2022 stadium run.)

Unhealthy Bunny accepts the trophy for Latin Pop Album on the 63rd Grammy Awards in 2021.

(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Instances)

With each new challenge, Unhealthy Bunny crashes by means of one other business ceiling. Launched within the fall of 2020, his earlier album, “El Último Tour del Mundo,” grew to become the primary No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 chart to be utterly recorded in Spanish; “Un Verano” is now on observe to be the second. At over 183 million performs, Unhealthy Bunny grew to become Spotify’s most streamed artist ever in a single day following “Un Verano’s” debut, consequently nabbing the title from his former “Mia” collaborator, rapper Drake. At this level, the one individual Unhealthy Bunny has left to compete with is himself.

Unhealthy Bunny’s meteoric mainstream success is a feat for any Latino artist, particularly a strictly-Spanish-language one, to not point out a San Juan grocery bagger turned world-famous rapper, gifted with the foresight to reject quite a few major-label affords and do his personal factor on his personal time. (Unhealthy Bunny releases music beneath the banner of unbiased label Rimas, now distributed by Sony Music.)

However whereas mile markers like “first Latino to…” are vital, what’s most spectacular is that Unhealthy Bunny stays dedicated to being a complete oddball. Not like his Puerto Rican predecessors Daddy Yankee or Don Omar, Unhealthy Bunny doesn’t sing about simply wooing the women however about empowering them. He has wearing drag and wrestled within the WWE; in his newest music video for “Un Verano” opener “Moscow Mule,” he assumes the type of a sexless Ken doll, leaping throughout the ocean like a dolphin.

With “Un Verano,” Unhealthy Bunny earns these zany inventive indulgences. He’s labored laborious for his place on the high, not simply as a entice or reggaeton star, or perhaps a Latino star, however as an auteur in common music.

Simply as French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard immortalized the swinging postwar zeitgeist of Sixties Paris, or Kanye West bottled the lightning of his Chicago and alchemized it into his personal darkish, twisted multiverse, Unhealthy Bunny now paints from the palette of Puerto Rico within the 2020s, devising a brand new modern-day lore for his folks — and, with assist from visionary Puerto Rican producers Tainy, MAG and La Paciencia, he realizes future-forward sounds for his friends and followers to absorb.

On “Dos Mil 16,” a throwback to his Soundcloud days, we meet Unhealthy Bunny in what he calls his “last summer as a normal person,” when he was performing his first stay exhibits and learning up on Drake; we additionally get to know “Andrea,” a composite of strong-minded Latinas, who simply wish to social gathering in La Perla till 4 a.m. with out being harmed. (This haunting pop vignette spotlights the silken voice of Raquel Berrios, vocalist of Puerto Rican dance-pop act Buscabulla.)

Unhealthy Bunny’s Puerto Rico is directly muse and political battleground. It’s largely because of a worldwide industrial curiosity within the island’s musical output, particularly reggaeton, that Unhealthy Bunny was capable of launch his profession within the first place; in consequence, many a mainstream pop heartthrob has been rebranded within the picture of Bunny and different Caribbean artists, furthering the gentrification of their sounds. In what looks like a course correction, “Un Verano” presents reggaeton as what it’s when it’s not mediated by market forces: a timeless heritage sound, in the identical league as Caribbean social gathering staples like merengue, salsa and mambo.

Such tensions additionally gas “El Apagón,” or “The Blackout.” Written amid rolling blackouts throughout the island — a byproduct of its energy grid being transferred to a personal firm, the newest setback to Puerto Rico’s restoration post-Hurricane María — the tune is the zenith of “Un Verano Sin Ti,” a patriotic scorcher of a membership observe that comes as a warning shot to all these seeking to money in on a weak Puerto Rico. Even because it’s turn into a classy music business vacation spot — “Capital of perreo,” spits Bunny, “everybody desires to be Latino however they lack the sazón” — the fabric actuality of its locals grows extra stark in distinction.

These should not simply the artist’s rallying cries to defend his homeland or his sound; now, at a essential second in his profession, when each the American music business and Hollywood are combating for a bit of Unhealthy Bunny, he has his id to struggle for too.

Nonetheless, as is normally the case in a Unhealthy Bunny tune, it doesn’t cease anybody from dancing by means of the darkness.

Over a stomping Eurodance beat, Unhealthy Bunny’s girlfriend and newfound home diva, Gabriela Berlingeri, sings: “Let all of them depart.

“That is my seaside, that is my solar / That is my land, that is me.”





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