Let Us Recognize How Bad Bunny Is Celebrating Gender Fluidity And Self-Acceptance In All Of His Trapness
The poster boy of Latin Trap Bad Bunny is also the biggest mainstream rebel against the genre’s hypermasculinity. With his flamboyant, floral button-downs, cat-eye glasses and vibrant nail art, he’s reshaping society’s, and the urbano music industry’s, outdated gender rules. With his self-love messages to women, encouraging them to cut off lovers who have problems with their body hair or pants size, he’s calling out machismo and helping to weaken its power. While steadily rising up the charts with hard-thumping Spanish-language bangers on sex, drugs and street toughness, El Conejo Malo, born Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio, has also consistently used his platform and art to challenge misogyny and embrace femininity.
credit: instagram @badbunnypr
In his long-anticipated debut album X100PRE, which he unexpectedly released on Nochebuena 2018, the 24-year-old Puerto Rican singer-rapper continues to defy toxic masculinity. The 15-track fire LP includes trap, reggaeton and even pop-punk jams that encourage people to embrace themselves as they are. The four music videos that Bad Bunny has released from the album also spotlight critical intersectional feminist issues, from gender violence to gender nonconformity. The project, a musical treat that combines Bad Bunny’s lyrical aptitude with Tainy’s, the veteran urbano producer behind most of the album, commanding beats, also bears gifts for people who have a just, equitable and liberated vision for the world.
Here, five ways trapero Bad Bunny challenges machismo on X100PRE.
1. Celebrating Gender Fluidity And Self-Acceptance
In El Conjeo Malo’s latest single “Caro,” the supermarket bagger-turned-millionaire rapper recognizes his self-worth, acknowledging the value in his talent and character regardless of the amount of bread stacked in his bank account. “Yo sé cuanto valgo / yo sé que soy caro,” he raps. The music video pushes this idea of self-acceptance further, with Bad Bunny kissing himself — actually smooching look-alike Puerto Rican model Jazmyne Joy — to express that self-love. But the video also celebrates gender fluidity, opening up with a scene of Bunny in a white-and-pink room getting his nails painted before the camera jumps to Joy, a female-identifying actress who dresses up as the rapper throughout the video. During Ricky Martin’s hidden interlude in the song, Bunny is even kissed on the cheek by both a woman and a man, an additional jab to the genre’s long-rooted homophobia.
2. Spotlighting Gender Violence
“Solo de Mí” is a solemn ballad about survivors of intimate partner violence reclaiming their identity and learning to love themselves after leaving an abusive relationship. “Yo no soy tuyo ni de nadie, yo soy sólo de mí,” Benito sings. The music video uses powerful imagery to send his message against gender violence forward, including showing a woman lip-syncing his lyrics while suffering invisible hits to her face. When Bad Bunny debut the song on Instagram, he was explicit about its message, writing: “NO QUEREMOS NI UNA MUERTE MAS! Respeta la mujer, respeta al hombre, respeta al prójimo, respeta la vida! MENOS VIOLENCIA, MAS PERREO! (Y SI ELLA LO QUIERE, SI NO DÉJALA QUE PERREE SOLA Y NO LA JODAS).”
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no estoy seguro si las peleas de gallo son maltrato, pero la violencia de género en contra de la mujer y la cantidad absurda de mujeres que son asesinadas al mes SÍ LO ES. ¿Cuando vamos a darle prioridad a lo que realmente importa??! Siempre queremos culpar a todos menos al que tiene la culpa. ES HORA DE TOMAR ACCIÓN YA! Sé que habrán muchas opiniones, pero yo solo les digo que por algo se empieza, y cada cual hace su parte como cree que pueda. NO QUEREMOS NI UNA MUERTE MAS! Respeta la mujer, respeta al hombre, respeta al prójimo, respeta la vida! MENOS VIOLENCIA, MAS PERREO! (Y SI ELLA LO QUIERE, SI NO DÉJALA QUE PERREE SOLA Y NO LA JODAS)???? [LINK EN MI BIO]
3. Resisting Hypermasculine Sexual Fantasies
In the ‘80s synth-pop track “Otra Noche en Miami,” Bad Bunny opens up about the less-glamorous parts of his rapid rise to fame, expressing feelings of melancholy over the fake and harmful interests of the growing crowd around him, from industry execs to groupies. He even raps that he’s tired of threesomes and orgies, sexual fantasies that many traperos brag about, and prefers real love instead. “Ya me cansan los threesome’ y las orgías / Ya me cansa que mi vida siga vacía,” he raps, breaking free from hypersexualized stereotypes of men, especially Caribbean Latinx men.
4. Getting Sentimental
The singer-rapper gets even more sentimental in “Si Estuviésemos Juntos.” Throughout the reggaeton ballad, El Conejo Malo bares his soul to an ex lover, telling her, and the world, that he still misses and longs for her, that he still wonders what could have been if he would have gotten his act together sooner. “A otra persona no he podido amar / Y te juro que lo he tratado / Pero es que ninguna se te para al la’o / Desde que te fuiste sigo trastorna’o / Escuchando Masterpiece, baby me siento down.” In an increasingly eff-your-ex, live-your-best-life-heartless youth culture, vulnerability in music is becoming rare, especially for men in hip-hop, but Bad Bunny doesn’t shy away from showing his emotions.
5. Taking Care Of Your Mental Health, Bromances And Your Nails
Bad Bunny’s first single off of X100PRE “Estamos Bien” is many things. In Puerto Rico, it’s a statement of resiliency, a message to Washington that the people of La Isla del Encanto are good despite shoddy recovery efforts after Hurricane Maria, because survival, community and joy run through their veins. But before the devastating storm hit the island, this was a song about Benito’s own individual perseverance; more specifically, overcoming depression that followed his meteoric stardom. Bad Bunny, who has talked about his mental health struggle — uncommon among men in Latinx countries — through his music and in interviews, found healing after returning home, to his family and his lifelong friends. The music video is all about self-care, including manicures and spending time with your best pals, and offers an unapologetic display of a loving bromance between Bad Bunny and his best homeboys.
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