Very little distinguishes Bad Bunny from Benito Antonio Martinez Ocasio. One is an unstoppable Latin trap king who has screeched past the language barrier into global stardom. The other is a shy kid who quietly knew he would one day sell out Madison Square Garden. This is what makes the 25-year-old Puerto Rican musician special. He is the crown prince of a genre that drips with bravado, and yet he is completely and utterly himself. While it is hard to imagine his forbearers Don Omar or Daddy Yankee taking off their acrylic nails to play basketball, Bad Bunny has followed his personal style to bring reggaeton into new stratospheres of inclusivity and swag. Following the release of his debut album, X 100PRE, with features by Drake and Diplo, the rapper went from riding “200mph in a jet ski” to writing emotional songs on private planes. En route from Las Vegas to San Juan, Bad Bunny scheduled a layover in Miami to pay a visit to his friend, the similarly electric and groundbreaking Spanish singer Rosalía. Determined not to pour gasolina on the rumors that they are dating, he arrived to the rendezvous wearing a wig and a new pair of sunglasses.
ROSALÍA: So, what’s your favorite hookah flavor? [Laughs]
BAD BUNNY: The mint one.
ROSALÍA: I like watermelon and grape.
BAD BUNNY: Grape must be good. I’ve never had it.
ROSALÍA: I know you like sunglasses. What’s the latest pair that you bought?
BAD BUNNY: The last time I went shopping, I spent a fortune. I spent as much as a new car on sunglasses.
ROSALÍA: The ones you’re wearing now are beautiful.
BAD BUNNY: It’s the first time I’ve worn them.
ROSALÍA: Do you like to dress yourself, or do you prefer to collaborate with stylists and designers?
BAD BUNNY: It’s funny, I’ve discovered little by little that I do not like fashion.
ROSALÍA: And why is that?
BAD BUNNY: Fashion is one thing, but style is another. Sometimes big companies say, “Look at that cabrón! He loves fashion.” But I don’t follow any designer. Everyone has their style and your style explains a lot about who you are—you feel me? I’ve had style since childhood, so I like to dress how I feel. But maybe I get carried away by some trends.
ROSALÍA: Knowing how to dress is an art. Whenever I see you, I think, “This guy has swag.” And you paint your nails! Where do you like to get them done?
BAD BUNNY: Not in Spain, because they don’t want to let me do it.
ROSALÍA: I hate that story. It makes me so mad.
BAD BUNNY: [Laughs] It was horrible! I got really upset. I did these nails in Las Vegas. I recently did some long ones, which I had never done before.
ROSALÍA: Do you like them?
BAD BUNNY: They were a total scandal. A scandal!
ROSALÍA: The long, sharp ones?
BAD BUNNY: Yes. And then it was, “I’m gay.” “I’m this.”“I’m that.” “I’m everything.” Social media exploded.
ROSALÍA: I find it incredible that wearing long nails causes something like that.
BAD BUNNY: The only thing that matters is that they are very uncomfortable when I play basketball.
ROSALÍA: You get used to it. And when they’re being painted, it’s such a good moment to relax. When I get my nails done, I usually go with my friends.
BAD BUNNY: For me, the dynamic is a bit different. I imagine that the person who is doing it is not used to doing it to a man. I can’t wait for it to be over.
ROSALÍA: Do you plan to dye your hair soon?
BAD BUNNY: I dyed it pink a year ago.
ROSALÍA: I saw. I really like how pink looks on you.
BAD BUNNY: But right now I want to let it grow.
ROSALÍA: What’s the difference between Benito and Bad Bunny?
BAD BUNNY: The only difference between Benito and Bad Bunny is 16 million followers on Instagram. And the money that Bad Bunny has in the bank. Benito had, like,$7. The numbers are different, but I’m still the same. Even my insecurities remain the same. Money does not change people, people change. Rosalía does not think the same things she thought five years ago. And it’s not bad that we change. What is wrong is wanting to be someone else.
ROSALÍA: What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about you?
BAD BUNNY: That you and I are “bad bunnies”! [Laughs] They have me pissed off with that.
ROSALÍA: What are you going to do for your birthday next year? You have to invite me.
BAD BUNNY: To be honest, what I really would like to do for my birthday is go to the movies like a normal person.
ROSALÍA: When you started in the music industry, was there someone who believed in you more than anyone?
BAD BUNNY: I would say that the person who saw something in me, more than anyone, was DJ Orma, who is now my DJ. He’s my friend from high school, and when I started to make music but wasn’t fully committed, he would say, “Do it! Do it!”
ROSALÍA: Were you embarrassed to show him your songs?
BAD BUNNY:He was the only person I wanted to show my music to. In Puerto Rico, being a reggaetonero is like being a police officer. For every 10 children born, 9 want to be reggaetoneros. There are many kids on the street saying, “Listen to this! Check these bars out!” ButI was never that kid. I was 14, locked in my room, mixing beats and nobody knew. My family would come into my room and they would see me doing strange things, but nobody knew I was making music. DJ Orma was one of the few people who knew. Even when I entered the industry, with the people who signed me or whatever, I know they didn’t believe in me.
ROSALÍA: Do you really think that?
BAD BUNNY: I sensed it. I showed them many things I had made and they did not even look at them. Today, that’s what makes me who I am. They didn’t even want to hear many of the songs that became my first hits. They thought they were crap.
ROSALÍA: But you had the intuition that they weren’t.
BAD BUNNY: As a person I’m humble, but musically, I am sure about who I am. If I make a bad song, I’ll tell you, “I did this. It’s crap, but I did it.” This industry is hard, but I was so sure of myself. I had an ego, but not in a negative way. I just believed in my music.
ROSALÍA: What’s the last song you made that you didn’t like?
BAD BUNNY: With my first album, X 100PRE, there were three songs that were left out, but I love them. I took them out because I did not want to make an album with so many songs. Someday they have to be released, even if I have to give them for free or whatever, because they’re so good. I don’t like to waste music. Even if one person enjoys a song, it makes sense for it to exist.
ROSALÍA: When you’re writing, what moment of the day inspires you the most?
BAD BUNNY: I used to have all the time in the world to write, so my favorite place to write was the terrace of my house.
ROSALÍA: How pleasant!
BAD BUNNY: With a hammock. You know what a hammock is, right?
ROSALÍA: Yes, there are hammocks in Spain!
BAD BUNNY: We gave hammocks to you. They were ours! [Laughs] Back then, I would sit in my hammock in the afternoon and write. Now, I don’t have the privilege of lying in a hammock. Now, I write mostly on a plane.
ROSALÍA: Planes do not inspire me.
BAD BUNNY: Yes, well, when you’re up there you know that if you fall, you’re going to die. So you have to say, “I have to write what I can here, so if I survive, I’ll record it.”
ROSALÍA: Do you have no fear of flying?
BAD BUNNY: Oh, I hate flying. I think my fear inspires me. When I take vacations, I go home. I recently took a vacation in January, and I had the option of going to Bora Bora, St. Barts, the Maldives, or St. Kitts, which is next to Puerto Rico. So I said, “I’ll go to the closest one.” I’d rather stay in the Caribbean. I used to tell my mom when I was a kid, “Mommy, I’m never going to leave Puerto Rico.” I was afraid of flying, and now it’s my damn life.
ROSALÍA: Well, if you already write on the plane, you’re used to it.
BAD BUNNY: There’s this one song that I haven’t recorded yet that I wrote about a year ago, and I think it’s one of the most special songs I’ve written. I didn’t record it for this album because I want to save it for a more personal and special album. I wrote it during turbulence, and if you listen to the track it’s good as fuck, even though I did it on my phone in GarageBand.
ROSALÍA: How cute that you use GarageBand.
BAD BUNNY: Around that time I was going through a difficult personal moment—sentimentally and psychologically, I wasn’t very well. At that moment in my life, the turbulence made me very afraid. The only thing that calmed my fear was to listen to that track and the rhythm that I made. So I started writing over it, and it’s called “La Felicided”. I do not know when, but I’m going to record it.
ROSALÍA: It’s incredible to me that you have it and you haven’t released it.
BAD BUNNY: I can release it today or in 20 years, and I know it will be a good song. But I want to record it in a special place where I feel happy. Usually I record in hotels—my album was recorded in hotels.
ROSALÍA: The last person I saw using GarageBand was Pharrell. I couldn’t believe that Pharrell Williams uses fucking GarageBand.
BAD BUNNY: If you’re good, you’re good anywhere. I started making beats at 14 using this basic pro-gram called Fruity Loops. When I entered university, a professor recommended Logic to me.
ROSALÍA: I’ve also learned Logic, but it’s not for me.
BAD BUNNY: I love it. All my first hits were made by me.
ROSALÍA: Wow, I thought you were more of a songwriter, but you also do beats?
BAD BUNNY: As I told you, I used to have all the time in the world. Not anymore.
ROSALÍA: I want to ask something, and don’t answer if you do not want to. When was the last time you cried?
BAD BUNNY: I’m almost crying right now talking about my DJ, honestly. That question you asked me made me sentimental. I’m very sentimental and I think it comes with being a Pisces. I think there is something about that sign where the water just comes out. The last time I really cried was a week ago, out of frustration. Honestly, it’s not hard to make me cry.
ROSALÍA: I think it’s nice when people let themselves cry. I like to let it flow. What’s the one thing that you are afraid to lose?
BAD BUNNY: My memory. It would be so horrible to forget everything I’ve experienced and all the people I’ve met. It would be the most unfair thing I can imagine.
This article appears in the Summer 2019 issue of Interview Magazine. Subscribe here.
Barber: Luis Rivera
Production: Juliet Thompson
Photography Assistant: Guarionex Rodriguez, Jr.
Fashion Assistant: Zoey Radford Scott