Bad Bunny’s latest music video — 22 minutes long — feels like a mini documentary. The reggaeton sensation’s project tells the story of his fellow Puerto Ricans and their ability to persevere amid chronic power outages five years after Hurricane Maria. Much of the island nation is without power again after Hurricane Fiona swept the Caribbean earlier this month.
Bad Bunny’s latest album, “Un Verano Sin Ti,” came out in May and still ranks No. 1 in the U.S. The singer, whose real name is Benito Martinez Ocasio, is the only artist to have an all-Spanish language album top the American charts. He’s also selling out stadiums across North America, with two nights at SoFi stadium this weekend. All the while, he’s using his tour to highlight the political and social issues back home in Puerto Rico.
The music video is equal parts culture curation and journalism, says Maria Elena Cepeda, a Latino and Latina studies professor at Williams College. Featuring reporter Biana Graulau, the project dives into the privatization of Puerto Rico’s power grid, gentrification, and controversial tax break laws.
“He uses the video to remind us that Puerto Ricans are on that land. The island isn't this empty space where there are no consequences for our actions. ‘Aqui vive gente,’ he says, people live here. … And I just love the way that he's employing music and sound as political forces,” Cepeda says.
Ocasio is also vocal about women’s and transgender rights, says Vox Editor Izzie Ramirez. She cites the Burberry skirt he wore to this year’s Met Gala and how he sported drag in the music video for “Yo Perreo Sola.”
“For so long, there's been this idea of how reggaeton artists should be. So it's really fascinating to see someone play with gender [and] acknowledge some of the other problems in the islands such as the high rates of femicides and the deaths of transgender people on the island,” Ramirez says.
Cepeda adds that Ocasio engages LGBTQ audiences, including her own students: “It's this ongoing conversation and part of Bad Bunny’s persona, but it's not this performance that's very forced or fake. … It has really opened up doors to alternative ways of performing and understanding masculinity in real time.”
This summer, Ocasio also performed for three nights in San Juan. Tickets ranged from $15-$150 and weren’t available online. The shows were broadcasted on local television.
“That's like if Beyonce took over ABC for four hours to play ‘Renaissance,’” Ramirez says. “[He was] making sure that these shows were for Puerto Ricans. … All of it was to ensure that it was Puerto Ricans who benefited from this show that was like a love letter to the island, to its people.”