Behind Bad Bunny’s Summery Surprise, ‘Un Verano Sin Ti’

“I’ve made it clear to people that I’m never going to make a record that’s the same as another,” the pop star said. His fourth album was inspired by a spectrum of Caribbean music. – 

Most pop stars would move heaven and earth to attend the Met Gala. But for Bad Bunny, one of music’s most idiosyncratic figures, it’s just another Monday night. “Obviously I’m happy that they invited me,” he said, twirling from side to side in a high leather swivel chair at New York’s venerated Electric Lady Studios about 48 hours before the exclusive fashion fête.– 

“I know that day is going to be an exciting thing,” he continued. “But I’m working a lot this week!” Last Monday, he announced his casting as the lead of a live-action Marvel movie, playing a character from the Spider-Man universe named El Muerto. Two days after that, he was filming music videos in Puerto Rico.

Throughout it all, he was preparing for the release of his fourth studio album, “Un Verano Sin Ti” (“A Summer Without You”), which dropped on Friday. At the gala on Monday, Bad Bunny — born Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio — wore a custom cream boiler suit and skirt with puff sleeves, designed by Riccardo Tisci for Burberry.

At Electric Lady, calmly putting the final touches on the album and working on some new material, he sported a quintessentially Benito look: pastel pink swim trunks, a checkered blue cardigan and a wide-brimmed sage fisherman’s hat. His left thigh was covered in tattoos, including the sad-faced cartoon heart that appears on the artwork for his new album, and an outline of his home, Puerto Rico.

His right thigh bore only one design: the logo for Pokémon Go. Since his genre-crushing debut in 2018, Bad Bunny, now 28, has been nearly unstoppable, colliding pop punk, synth-pop, bachata, dembow and reggaeton on his way to becoming a global superstar. He released two LPs in 2020, including “El Último Tour Del Mundo,” the first fully Spanish-language album to hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart. He’s been the most streamed artist on Spotify two years in a row.

The story of Bad Bunny’s mythical ascent from a grocery bagger in the small town of Vega Baja to a torchbearer for a new generation of reggaeton and trap artists has become nearly folklore.

In the past few years, he’s also transformed into a fashion renegade, an emerging social critic, a semiprofessional wrestler and a budding actor. In July, he will make his feature film debut in “Bullet Train,” a bloody action movie in which he fistfights Brad Pitt. Bad Bunny said he trained with stuntmen for weeks to prepare.

“I always wanted to act and the opportunity came along, but I didn’t know that one of the first ones was going to be with Brad Pitt,” he said incredulously.

“At the end of the day, I’m still the same person I’ve always been,” he added. “That’s what’s important, what you have to know. I shouldn’t care how the world sees me, but rather, who I know I am,” he continued. “With that, I’ll be very happy.”