The day earlier than the Grammys, Dangerous Bunny might be discovered taking part in dress-up in a Hollywood studio. The Puerto Rican megastar, who had turned 27 just a few days earlier, emerged from a dressing room in a tailor-made Celine go well with. The look was Men in Black sharpness—skinny black tie, crisp white lapel, modern traces—however with some key twists. His mop of tight curls was gathered on one aspect of his head, and the place one may need anticipated to see a costume shoe, he was sporting imposing furry boots—not après-ski a lot as full-on yeti. Dangerous Bunny has been recognized to include mouse ears and different animal motifs into his aesthetic, however the yeti boots have been taking the theme to a brand new place. He appeared a bit as if he’d been forged as a woodland creature in a futuristic, high-fashion staging of A Midsummer Night time’s Dream.
Dangerous Bunny’s fashion, like his music, is so hyper-eclectic that describing it usually requires not simply compound references however entire imaginary eventualities. At one level throughout the W picture shoot, he was wandering round in a pleated plaid skirt and matching blazer, a wide-brimmed hat, and cherry pink cowboy boots—what may consequence if, say, a Catholic-school lady reworked her uniform right into a gaucho silhouette. The artist and director Martine Syms was utilizing a wide range of cameras, each movie and digital, from completely different eras to seize Dangerous Bunny as a type of musical time-traveler. Members of her workforce have been printing a few of the photographs in actual time and arranging them on a wall, which then turned a backdrop for subsequent photographs. The reflections and recursions have been meant to present the portraits a “portal feeling,” Syms instructed me later. “I needed to attempt to faucet into a few of the numerous archetypes that he faucets into in his music.”
Celine Homme by Hedi Slimane jacket, shirt, pants, and tie; his personal small hoop earrings and nostril ring (all through).
It was an bold purpose. Even in our genre-bucking occasions, Dangerous Bunny is a lane-hopper of unparalleled vary. He made his identify as a revivalist of early reggaeton and Latin entice sounds, however did so with painted nails and feminist lyrics, upending lots of the macho norms of the very genres he was referencing. In only a few quick years, he’s turn into a worldwide pop phenomenon and industrial pressure—and likewise a salt-of-the-earth protest singer who helped carry down a corrupt administration again house. Beneath all of it, he stays a rustic boy from Puerto Rico’s northern coast, a laid-back seashore child who will roll into an business social gathering in board shorts and flip-flops. And but, as of some months in the past, he’s additionally a newly minted wrestling star, a smack-talking brawler who delights in smashing a guitar on the bulging lats of WWE star Mike “The Miz” Mizanin.
Dangerous Bunny was up for 2 awards at the Grammys. His collaboration with Dua Lipa, “Un Dia,” was nominated for Finest Pop Efficiency by a Duo or Group, and his third album, YHLQMDLG—quick for “Yo Hago Lo Que Me Da La Gana,” or “I Do No matter I Need”—was within the working for Finest Latin Pop or City Album. As we parted methods, I needed him luck, although I had the distinct feeling that he wouldn’t want it. The Grammys have been gradual to acknowledge Latin music of each stripe, however Dangerous Bunny’s dominance had turn into simple. He was the most-streamed artist on Spotify in 2020. His newest album, El Último Tour del Mundo, launched in November, is the primary all-Spanish-language album to succeed in No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart.
Celine Homme by Hedi Slimane jacket, shirt, pants, and tie; stylist’s personal ring.
Since exploding onto North American radio and pop charts in 2018 with the smash hit “I Like It,” his boogaloo-meets-trap collaboration with Cardi B and J Balvin, Dangerous Bunny had taken house two Latin Grammys. Nonetheless, successful a “gringo Grammy,” as he has known as it, would carry explicit significance. When, as anticipated, Dangerous Bunny did win for YHLQMDLG the next evening, he delivered a part of his acceptance speech in Spanish. “It’s very particular to have the ability to obtain my desires just by doing what I like,” he mentioned. “That they offer me an award for doing what I like—it’s like, okay, give it to me.”
A couple of weeks later, I spoke to Dangerous Bunny by telephone. He was someplace close to Orlando, Florida, the place he had been making weekly appearances on WWE’s Monday Night time Uncooked. He was nonetheless basking within the glow of his Grammy win. “It was one of many extra lovely moments in my profession,” he instructed me, “the popularity of an album that, for me, could be very particular, and which I take into account probably the greatest albums within the newest period of reggaeton and the Latin style.” Once I requested if singing and talking in Spanish was a political selection, nonetheless, he mentioned no. “I’m merely being myself,” he mentioned. “I feel we’ve already confirmed that music is a common language. You’ve got folks from all elements of the world singing songs in Spanish. We don’t should sing in -English anymore to cross over.”
Bottega Veneta jacket, pants, and boots; Vince sweater; stylist’s personal earrings and ring.
Dangerous Bunny was born Benito Antonio Martínez -Ocasio in Vega Baja, a rural seashore city about 30 miles west of San Juan. His father was a truck driver; his mom a schoolteacher. (After Benito, that they had two extra boys, Bernie and Bysael.) Rising up, Benito sang in a youngsters’s choir at church. He began freestyling in junior excessive, largely to entertain his buddies. From a younger age, he was omnivorous in his musical pursuits.
“My father would normally hearken to tropical music,” he instructed me, “a variety of salsa. My mother favored merengue and balada lots. At my grandfather’s home, I’d hearken to outdated man’s music, like bolero, bohemia. With my buddies, I’d hearken to a variety of reggaeton. Some would hearken to rock. I’ve musician relations, musician buddies. And so I grew up round a variety of musical preferences. Clearly, I at all times recognized extra with reggaeton, as a result of it was fashionable music in my nation and from my childhood and my technology. That has at all times been the muse. But it surely’s not like I’m simply there. I’ve a variety of rhythms in my head.”
After highschool, he studied communications on the College of Puerto Rico at Arecibo, and moonlighted as a grocery-bagger at an area grocery store. Between lessons and evening shifts, he started importing self-produced songs to SoundCloud as Dangerous Bunny. (The identify was impressed by a childhood picture of Benito wearing a bunny go well with for college, proper earlier than Easter.) A kind of songs, “Diles,” a entice anthem about ensuring a girl is happy in mattress, went viral in 2016. Quickly he was collaborating with música urbana veterans like Arcángel and Daddy Yankee, and ultimately with Cardi B and Drake. His debut album, X 100PRE, which was launched on Christmas Eve in 2018, reached No. 1 on Billboard’s Latin albums chart.
Dangerous Bunny’s ascent coincided with an exceptionally turbulent interval in Puerto Rico, and his willingness to fulfill the second has made him a type of folks hero again house. A yr after Hurricane Maria ravaged the island, he launched “Estamos Bien,” about resilience throughout the storm’s harrowing aftermath. When he carried out the tune on The Tonight Present, Dangerous Bunny criticized the White Home from the stage. “Greater than 3,000 folks died, and Trump’s nonetheless in denial,” he mentioned. Then, in the summertime of 2019, a texting scandal and political disaster enveloped Puerto Rico’s then governor, Ricardo Rosselló. Dangerous Bunny minimize off a tour to affix demonstrations in San Juan. He additionally produced a protest tune with Residente and iLe, “Afilando los Cuchillos,” or “Sharpening the Knives.” Final yr, in one other Tonight Present look, he carried out in a T-shirt that paid tribute to a homeless transgender girl, Alexa Negrón Luciano, who had been murdered in San Juan. “They killed Alexa, not a person in a skirt,” the shirt mentioned.
Through the pandemic, Dangerous Bunny launched three albums. First got here YHLQMDLG, a valentine to early reggaeton that, like a lot of his music, deploys nostalgia in a approach that doesn’t really feel nostalgic. The opening observe, “Si Veo a Tu Mamá,” about working into an ex’s mother throughout the purgatory-ish interval following a breakup, lays 808 boom-bass beneath a vintage-sounding keyboard interpolation of “The Woman From Ipanema.” The result’s an earworm that evokes each an Atari recreation soundtrack and grocery retailer Muzak. One other hit from the album, “Safaera,” incorporates a tumbi pattern from Missy Elliott’s “Get Ur Freak On” and the bass line from Bob Marley’s “May You Be Beloved.” His second album of 2020, Las Que No Iban a Salir, a compilation of outtakes launched final Could, is equally layered. In relation to sheer groundbreaking breadth, nonetheless, neither fairly touches the third.
El Último Tour del Mundo has just a few easy reggaeton tracks, together with “La Noche de Anoche,” Dangerous Bunny’s steamy duet with Rosalía. (What was it like working with the Spanish singer? “Lovely,” he mentioned. “That was one of many songs that gave me extra life in a collaboration. Like, we felt it. I beloved the expertise of engaged on a video along with her. So, for actual, it was very good.”) The remainder of the album blends so many genres that it virtually comes throughout as a dare: Simply attempt to categorize this. Its greatest single, “Dákiti,” is equal elements reggaeton and synth-y home. Different tracks fuse ’90s alt-rock parts with entice beats, or New Wave with rock-en-español. The album closes with “Cantares de Navidad,” a Christmas tune recorded within the Nineteen Fifties by Trio Vegabajeño, a bunch from Dangerous Bunny’s hometown. One other observe samples the legendary Puerto Rican astrologer Walter Mercado. “I favored Walter’s intention to at all times give hope and messages of optimism,” Dangerous Bunny defined. “He was born on March 9, and I used to be born on March 10. We’re Pisces: emotional, sentimental, and typically obscure.”
Dangerous Bunny can be taking all this new music on the street in 2022. He lately introduced a North American tour, his greatest to this point. Within the meantime, he has been retaining busy. His rivalry with the Miz culminated in a showdown at WrestleMania in mid-April. This was the belief of a childhood dream. (He used to observe wrestling along with his dad, and one in every of his earliest music movies featured the WWE legend Ric Aptitude.) However the rigorous coaching schedule additionally turned out to be a wonderful approach of dealing with pandemic anxieties. “It has been a great way to alleviate stress,” he instructed me. “Specializing in one thing else, working extra with my physique, the thoughts, and doing one thing completely different. It couldn’t have been a greater time.”
He has been dabbling in appearing, too. He lately wrapped Bullet Practice, an motion movie starring Brad Pitt. He can’t disclose many particulars about his position, besides that the character could be very completely different from him: “It’s a few boy who misplaced his household at a really younger age. He devoted his life to the streets, to be a assassin. So, an aggressive man who has suffered lots.” Working with Pitt was “very, very cool,” he added. “I used to be again there on the set, and I’d say, This could’t be true.” He’ll quickly guest-star in Narcos: Mexico, taking part in Arturo “Kitty” Paez, a gang member with a humorousness (“He likes to make jokes. He likes to have a bit of enjoyable”). Later this yr, he can have a task in American Sole, a comedy produced by Kevin Hart whose forged contains Pete Davidson and Offset. Along with all this, he wrote a tune for the Quick and the Livid franchise—“I’ve it prepared,” he mentioned. “We’re simply ready for the second to launch it”—and designed a sequence of sneakers for Adidas. (Very like the glow-in-the-dark Crocs he lent his identify and iconography to, they offered out instantly.)
Louis Vuitton Males’s jacket, shirt, skirt, hat, tie, and boots; rings: (proper hand, from prime) Vitaly, Jewels by Dunn, his personal, (left hand, from left) stylist’s personal, stylist’s personal, Jewels by Dunn; stylist’s personal earrings.
Within the weeks earlier than our interview, he’d been writing but extra music. “I’ve, like, a mechanical course of that I name mecánico, and it’s the one which I just like the least,” Dangerous Bunny defined. “After which there’s the true course of, the one with the muse, with the creativity, that comes on instantly, while you weren’t anticipating it. Your unconscious is speaking to you about what you’re feeling with out you figuring out, and it comes out, a variety of occasions, after I’m alone at evening.” He continued: “I write unhappy songs at evening. Comfortable songs I write throughout the day, after understanding, after a enjoyable day. And so I can adapt lots when it’s time to jot down, however that’s the method I like essentially the most—the one the place, after I really feel it, it comes out naturally within the second, with out even figuring out the place the lyrics are coming from. However they arrive.”