Bad Bunny continues to be one of the biggest names in modern music. Since debuting in the 2010s, the proud Puerto Rican artist (born Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio) has pioneered Latin trap and reggaeton to commercial and critical success. The next stop on Bunny’s global takeover will be the 2022 MTV Video Music Awards on Aug. 28. Bunny — who will be onstage at Yankee Stadium in The Bronx as part of his Bad Bunny: World’s Hottest Tour — will deliver an exclusive “made for VMAs” performance for those attending the VMAs at New Jersey’s Prudential Center, and for those watching at home. It will mark Bunny’s return to the VMAs for the first time since performing “Que Pretendes” with J Balvin in 2019.
Bad Bunny may leave the 2022 MTV VMAs with another Moonperson. He’s up for two major categories – Artist of the Year and Best Latin – as well as Album of the Year and Song of the Summer. His nominated songs – “Tití Me Preguntó” and “Me Porto Bonito” – come from his 2022 album, Un Verano Sin Ti (“A Summer Without You”), so here’s what you need to know about this album.
Bad Bunny Released ‘Un Verano Sin Ti’ In May 2022
“I think he’s the biggest star in the whole world right now,” Diplo said to GQ when discussing Bad Bunny and his new album. Diplo joi “Bigger than any English-speaking star, bigger than, of course, the biggest Latin star. He’s the most massive, most progressive, most important pop star in the world.”
Evidence supporting this claim arrived on May 6, 2022, when Bad Bunny released his fourth studio album, Un Verano Sin Ti. The album came two years after the one-two punch of 2020’s El Último Tour Del Mundo and YHLQMDLG, two records released nine months apart. El Último Tour Del Mundo made history by becoming the first all-Spanish-language album to reach No. 1 on the US Billboard 200, a feat he repeated when Un Verano Sin Ti debuted atop the chart.
This crossover into the mainstream was not accidental, but it wasn’t something that Bad Bunny sought out. “I was never on a mission to be like, Oh, this is what I’m going to do,” he told GQ. “It happened organically. Like, I’ve never made a song saying, ‘This is going to go worldwide.’ I never made a song thinking, Man, this is for the world. This is to capture the gringo audience. Never. On the contrary, I make songs as if only Puerto Ricans were going to listen to them. I still think I’m there making music, and it’s for Puerto Ricans. I forget the entire world listens to me.”
What Did Critics Think Of ‘Un Verano Sin Ti’
In addition to being a commercial success, Un Verano Sin Ti gained critical praise. Pitchfork named it Best New Music with a score of 8.4/10.00. “As he did with ’80s synths, romantiqueo (pop reggaetón centered on heartache and love), and emo lyricism, this album sets the blueprint for what’s next,” wrote critic Jennifer Mota, calling it a “diasporic summer playlist” that contained “the sound of a world preparing for positive healing and joy.” The Guardian praised its “boundless creativity,” and while Rolling Stone gave it a 3.5/5, critic Julyssa Lopez praised Bad Bunny for adding “a little longing and heartache to the lyrics, striking a balance between summer and sadboy vibes,” while marveling over the album’s “remarkable political and social depth.”
What Does ‘Un Verano Sin Ti’ Sound Like?
“Since forever, I’ve made it clear to people that I’m never going to make a record that’s the same as another,” he told The New York Times. “The album is very Caribbean, in every sense: with its reggaeton, its mambo, with all those rhythms, and I like it that way.” Bad Bunny said he took inspiration from his family’s summer vacation on the west side of Puerto Rico. For Un Verano Sin Ti, he explored the eastern side, near Río Grande and Fajardo. He also recorded the album in the neighboring Dominican Republic.
As NME noted in its review, the album contains “everything from ambient bossa nova (‘Yo No Soy Celoso) and dewy dancehall (‘Agosto’) to giddy dance-pop (‘Neverita’) and sun-flecked reggae (‘Me Fui de Vacaciones).” The album also features Chencho Corleone of reggaeton duo Plan B, rapper/singer Jhay Cortez, singer Tony Dize, reggaeton star Rauw Alejandro, Colombian psychedelic cumbia group Bomba Estéreo, American indie-pop band The Marías, and Peuarto Rican tropical synth pop band Buscabulla.
“I could have done a track with, who knows, Miley Cyrus or Katy Perry,” Bad Bunny told The New York Times when discussing his YHLQMDLG album. But no, I was making ‘Safaera’ with Ñengo Flow and Jowell y Randy. And I was putting the whole world onto underground from Puerto Rico, you know? That makes me feel proud of what I represent.”
“I think ‘without’ a lot of things, can be like a person, can be like, friends, can be like something that you miss a lot about summer,” he said when speaking with Ebro Darden for Apple Music 1. “This whole album is [the muse, the inspiration comes from] all my summers. The vibe, the sound, even the featurings. I like every featuring because I like the music of that artist. They remind me of very special summer like, Chencho, Rauw, Tony Dice, Bomba Estereo, Buscabulla…Like every of them remind me of summer vibe.”
What’s Next For Bad Bunny?
“I just really want the people feel like they are really here, in the island, in the Caribbean. Because what I talking about, I’m still making music from here to the world,” Bunny told Ebro. “So, there’s a lot of fans around the world that can’t come… They never visit Puerto Rico or the Caribbean. So even some of them don’t live so close to the beach. So I want that people feel close. The whole album, you can use VR… You can feel that you are on the beach with us.”
Fans will get a chance to feel that way with Bad Bunny for the rest of 2022. His World’s Hottest Tour will take him from Yankee Stadium to Houston, San Antonio, Oakland, San Diego, Las Vegas, and LA before heading beyond the US borders to Latin and South America. He finished the tour in December with four nights in Mexico City.