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Bad Bunny’s Meteoric Rise

Bad Bunny earned 622 million streams on Spotify — the biggest week for any album in the platform’s history — with the release of his first album in two years. Boardroom explores how he reached this point.

Bad Bunny’s music has no borders and it certainly is not confined to a single genre.

His fourth studio album, Un Verano Sin Ti, which he released last week, proves that. It’s his first album since 2020’s El Último Tour del Mundo — which became the first entirely Spanish-language album to top the Billboard album charts in its 62-year history — has again catapulted the artist into a higher echelon.

The pleasantly not-so-surprising-release — as compared to his last few albums, which were full surprise releases — comes in at 23 tracks, an hour-fifteen-plus of listening, and features appearances from classic Latino acts including Rauw Alejandro, Bomba Estéreo, Buscabulla, Tony Dize, Jhay Cortez and The Marias.

The Puerto-Rico-born Bad Bunny won a 2022 Grammy Award for Best Musica Urbana Album, then immediately followed that up by shattering two new streaming records with the new album. The first made Bad Bunny the most-streamed artist globally in one day on Spotify with 183 million streams, topping Drake, who previously set the record with 176.8 million. With the second, he became Spotify’s most-streamed artist worldwide for the second year in a row, according to Billboard.

All of the songs except “Moscow Mule” and “Callaita” received 360-degree video visualizers capturing the eclectic and stylish musician hanging with two of his friends beachside. He revealed during a podcast conversation with Puerto Rican comedian Chente Ydrach that those are his “real friends from childhood and high school.”

As soon as the album released, all 23 songs immediately found their way into the top 30 of Spotify’s Daily Top Songs Global chart, with nine of those tracks reaching the top 10.

Now it’s being reported that the Rimas Entertainment-backed artist earned 622 million streams on Spotify in the first week of the album’s release, making it the biggest week for any album in the platform’s history.

Not to mention, Bunny also became the first artist in history to earn over 100 million total streams on Spotify every day for an entire week, hitting the milestone from May 6-12, all but ensuring this will be the biggest debut of the year.

And just this past week, he announced he would star in the upcoming Marvel film playing an antihero character named El Muerto, which exists in the same multiverse as Spider-Man. The role will make Bunny the first Latino actor to headline a live-action Marvel film. And if all that wasn’t enough to grasp the blossoming star power of Bunny, he will also kick off his international Stadium “World’s Hottest Tour” this summer, marking his second tour of 2022.

All of this is happening because Bad Bunny, born Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio, has charmed the music industry with authenticity and a wide-ranging appeal that frankly we haven’t seen stick so strongly before with a crossover artist. He’s not bound by any genre, operating in the worlds of trap, R&B, dembow, bachata, reggaetón and pop.

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And he’s certainly not bound by the fact that he’s a huge artist in the U.S. now. Making that crossover as a Latin artist is never easy and artists can latch onto American mainstream music as a means to stay relevant, but Bunny did the exact opposite.

In an interview with New York Times writer Isabelia Herrera, Bunny said, “I could have done a track with, who knows, Miley Cyrus or Katy Perry,” referring to his first 2020 album, YHLQMDLG.  “But no, I was making ‘Safaera’ with Ñengo Flow and Jowell y Randy. And I was putting the whole world onto underground from Puerto Rico, you know? That makes me feel proud of what I represent.”

During the previously mentioned podcast interview, Bunny shouted out the Dominican Republic for supporting him at the beginning of his career, which is why he “wanted to do something special” on Un Verano Sin Ti for the people. The result of this was “Despues de la Playa,” a mambo jam, and the dembow-smash “Titi Me Pregunto.” The former was recorded in the DR with a live band, and the latter was inspired by traditional dembow, but with Bunny’s own twist.

Moments like these truly help you understand how an artist like Bad Bunny is able to connect with people on such an emotional level that transcends language barriers because you can tell he actually cares, and when something is that good, it doesn’t even necessarily matter if you can understand it, because you can certainly feel it.

Just take a track like “Yo No Soy Celoso” (which translates to “I’m not jealous”) from the project, which almost instantly becomes an ironic title, as he finds himself occupied with an ex’s behavior. Yet, the alt-indie vibe of the record allows Bunny to get vulnerable over the poppy synths, without straying too far from this inviting beachside delivery.

Pitchfork’s Matthew Ismael Ruiz said after his debut album, X 100PRE, “Bad Bunny’s perspective is decidedly Puerto Rican, but he’s always drawn musical influence from across the diaspora, from Juan Gabriel’s Mexican boleros and Héctor Lavoe’s salsa to the Colombian (J Balvin) and Puerto Rican (Daddy Yankee) reggaetóneros and trap stars (Ozuna) he’s been collaborating with.”

The foundation and range Bunny has created is singular and its ability to translate universally is only more impressive when you realize that the man is 28 and has infiltrated several industries — as a fashion icon, a semiprofessional WWE wrestle, an actor, and an outspoken social/political critic regarding Puerto Rican politics — and made himself into an organically marketable superstar who genuinely has some sort of connection to anything he involves himself with.

With all this, it’s clear that Bad Bunny’s meteoric rise is the stuff of mythical legends — from a grocery bagger in the small town of Vega Baja, Puerto Rico, to the voice of a new, borderless generation — Bunny truly does transcend all.

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