Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio, better known as Bad Bunny, was in the middle of a hectic period in his career when Rolling Stone asked him to be on the cover of its July/August double issue. He was getting ready to perform at Coachella (and to become the first Latino solo act in the festival’s 30-year history), he was preparing to drop his single “Where She Goes,” and he’d been making plans to attend the 2023 Met Gala. As busy as he was, Rolling Stone got to come along for the ride, spending several days by his side and getting an up-close look at what it means to be the most streamed artist on the globe. In the process, we learned a couple of things, including which of his own songs he goes back to and how he views his tremendous ascent into fame. Here are a few details that didn’t make it into his cover story.
He has a playlist of favorite songs from his own albums.
Martínez admits he doesn’t listen to his own music much — but he has what he thinks of as a “playlist” from each album, made up of favorites that he says he can “listen to happily” at any moment. From his debut X100Pre? “’Otra Noche En Miami,’” he says. “I think from that project, that’s the only one I’d put on there.” From his 2020, no-holds-barred album YHLQMDLG, he picks his Daddy Yankee collaboration “La Santa” and “Que Malo,” featuring Ñengo Flow. The selections from his third LP, the looser, more rock-oriented El Ultimo Tour Del Mundo, are more laidback: “Sorry Papi,” “Trellas,” and “La Droga.” And his latest, record-breaking Un Verano Sin Ti, he says, is the album he listens to most.
From Un Verano Sin Ti, the tracks he plays most include “Andrea,” an airy, conscientious collaboration with Buscabulla; “Otro Atardecer,” his dreamy ode to a romantic sunset with the Marias; and the short but instantly catchy cut “Agosoto.”
The idea for “El Apagon” came to him on the beach with friends.
Martínez was shocked that social media somehow misinterpreted his quotes about “El Apagon” and thought he’d said he regretted writing it. In fact, he calls “El Apagon” the song he’s the proudest of. “I was at the beach with my friends, a great, drunken party. And suddenly, I was watching the beach, the waves, and I started to go, ‘Diablo, Puerto Rico en verdad que Puerto Rico esta bien cabron. On my next album, I want to make a song about Puerto Rico, and I want it to be beautiful.’ I didn’t want to be like ‘PFKN R,’ which I love but talks about guns and toughness, I was like ‘I want this song to be pretty.’”
Around that time, he’d been listening to the Puerto Rican singer and composer Ismael Rivera and ended up sampling the percussion beat for one of his songs on the track.
His collaboration with rising cumbia act Grupo Frontera happened after his producer MAG sent him “un x100to.”
Martínez was one of the first reggaeton artists to embrace música Mexicana back when he jumped a remix of Natanael Cano’s “Soy Diablo” in 2019. “That was almost five years ago… and it felt really genuine and spontaneous,” he says. He’d been trying to think of another foray into música Mexicana, particularly over its explosive growth the last two years, but he couldn’t find the right way in. Then, his frequent producer MAG happened to share an early cut of “un x100to” that a friend had sent him. “I think they probably didn’t even think I was going to ever hear it, but I listened, and from the first time I did that, I was like ‘Damn!’ I learned it immediately and I loved it, I loved it, I loved it.”
It made him even happier that the collaboration ended up being with Grupo Frontera, a group he’d been listening to a ton when he was on tour. “I make a lot of TikTok videos, but I leave them in drafts,” he says. Still, he took the opportunity to dig up a few that showed him dancing to some of Grupo Frontera’s songs. “I showed them all these old drafts, dancing to songs of theirs, like ‘No Se Va’ — that was the number one song when I was touring in Latin America. I always make playlists before I leave, and that was number one.”
There were a bunch of sets he wished he’d been able to check out at Coachella.
As one of the headliners at Coachella this year, Martínez didn’t have much down time at the festival. However, he did manage to check out Rosalia’s set, since he’d been wanting to see her live show for a long time. “I hadn’t been able to because her tour happened almost at the same time as mine,” he explains of the Spanish singer, who appeared on his 2020 track “La Noche de Anoche.” He describes her Coachella performance as “incredible.” “Very, very different,” he says. “Visually, I liked it a lot.”
There were other sets he wanted to see: “I would have liked to go to Metro Boomin, but it was right before mine,” he explains. “I would have liked to go to Gorillaz [the first weekend], too, but they were actually on the same stage as me.” He ended up jumping onstage with the band the second weekend of the festival.
He’s been listening to a ton of música Mexicana.
In his Rolling Stone cover story, Martínez surprised readers by sharing that he’s been listening to Radiohead and Phoebe Bridgers lately. But he’s also been diving deep into música Mexicana, jamming out to Grupo Frontera, Luis Miguel, Peso Pluma, and Eslabon Armado. He shared that he’s been loving the song “Sobran Motivos” from Conjunto Rienda Real and La Pócima Norteña and a track called “Amor Fugaz” from Los Del Limit.
He sees his career as a constant evolution that’s grown in stages.
After Un Verano Sin Ti, Martínez seemed to skyrocket into a new stratosphere of mainstream attention. But to him, his career hasn’t felt like a straight shot into fame. He looks at it as a series of evolutions that have brought him to where it is today. “It’s grown and grown and grown and grown. Each project has brought me to another stage and without a doubt, Un Verano Sin Ti was a jump that brought me to another level, another place entirely. But since the beginning, there’s been a gradual growth.”
He got along great with Jose Feliciano, his special guest during the second weekend of Coachella.
Martínez says he had a blast at both of his Coachella performances but admits the second weekend went much smoother than the first. “People had always told me, ‘The second one [at Coachella] is way better. I feel that way about live shows, too: You’re working out things the first time and then you feel more comfortable later.”
But part of the reason he enjoyed the second weekend so much was because he got to hang out with the Puerto Rican singer-songwriter Jose Feliciano, who he brought onstage with him. “It was super cabron,” he says of their meeting. “I had never met him. He’s a really funny man — he likes to make a lot of jokes. I kept saying to the guys, ‘I think that’s what I’m gonna be like when I’m older,’ because I like to mess around. But he was super nice and grateful. And I was like, ‘No, thank you.’”
He made sure WWE Backlash took place in Puerto Rico.
Earlier this year, Martínez participated in the WWE’s Backlash spectacular in Puerto Rico. Before that, WWE hadn’t hosted a major televised event in Puerto Rico since 2005. When Martínez, a wrestling fanatic who’d participated in Wrestlemania a few years ago back, started conversations about returning for Backlash, he had one condition. “The deal was like I’ll only come back if the fight is in Puerto Rico.’” WWE agreed, returning to the island in a major way for the first time in 18 years. “That hyped me up even more, knowing that it was in PR,” Martínez says, remembering how he used to watch matches with his dad and his cousins on television.
People were surprised with how intensely he jumped into training. “You have to have discipline. I’ve been training for three to four months. I was training, and then in March, I started practicing in the ring,” he says. He even impressed WWE organizers with his dedication. “They were surprised because they thought I wasn’t practicing a lot, and then I was in Chicago and I felt so sure about all the movements. People are like, ‘Why are you training like you’re going to do this full time?” he says with a laugh.
He got a tattoo during his Rolling Stone cover shoot.
Martínez had a few ideas when he came in for his Rolling Stone photo shoot. The first was to recreate chains with the logos of his favorite reggaeton stars, paying homage to Tego Calderón, Héctor El Father, Wisin Y Yandel, Arcángel, Don Omar, and Daddy Yankee.
The second was to get new ink on set. He brought out one of his favorite tattoo artists from Puerto Rico and just before the cameras started going off, he had her tattoo his grandmother’s name on his chest. The tattoo is visible in some of Martínez’s photo from the shoot.