“I was always a very independent child,” Bad Bunny says over the phone from a hotel room in Las Vegas. “I liked to dress my own way, do my own things, make my bedroom my own space.” He’s preparing for the Latin Grammy Awards ceremony when we speak, and he will find out, over the course of our conversation, that he has won the award for best rap/hip-hop song for “Booker T,” a song in which he jokes about winning all the prizes without even attending the show.
If you are at all familiar with the Puerto Rican artist, born Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio—and who, after his record-breaking ascent, isn’t?—this independent, iconoclastic streak won’t come as a surprise. Ever since he completed his first Soundcloud upload in 2016, he has been characterized by his refusal to conform to any norms, consistently breaking the mold of what a Latin trap/urban artist should sound like. (The title of his second album: YHLQMDLG, which stood for Yo Hago Lo Que Me Da La Gana, or “I Do Whatever I Want.”) His songs often incorporate pop-punk, ’80s synth, and rock en español, and his lyrics deal not only with macho posturing, but also heartbreak, feminism, social justice, and his status as various would-be mothers-in-law’s favorite son. Last year, he appeared on the WWE’s WrestleMania (reviews were glowing) and in Netflix’s Narcos: Mexico, and filmed the Brad Pitt–starring action film Bullet Train—oh, and he became co-owner of Puerto Rico’s Cangrejeros de Santurce, igniting a renaissance for island basketball in the process.