Grammy Awards

Professor Explains Bad Bunny's Crossover to the Grammys, and What it Means to Latinos

“Bad Bunny is somebody who is unapologetically himself and we really haven’t seen a Latinx artist like that since Selena,” Professor Rodriguez said.

The Puerto Rican's fourth studio album “Un Verano Sin Ti” became the first Spanish-language album to be nominated for a Grammy in the six-plus decades of the organization's existence.

In just a few days, Bad Bunny may become the first artist to win album of the year with a body of work that is solely in the Spanish language.

Born Benito Antonio Martinez Ocasio, the Latin rapper rose to prominence in 2016 with his song “Diles” and continued to gain traction after releasing his debut album X100 in 2018 which peaked at No. 11 on the U.S Billboard 200. Bad Bunny’s second album, "YHLQMDLG," became the highest charting all Spanish-album reaching number one on the Billboard 200.

Following the release of his album “Un Verano Sin Ti” in 2022, Bad Bunny scored his second number-one album in the U.S. Billboard 200 and it became the best-performing album of the year. 

The global superstar has won four Latin Grammys and two Grammys and has earned three nominations for the 2023 Grammys.

For Latinos in the U.S, Bad Bunny’s crossover in one of the top Grammy categories -- regarded by many as the most prestigious and significant in the music industry worldwide -- is a monumental moment for the “cultura,” a deserving acknowledgement, a California professor said.

Dr. Nate Rodriguez of San Diego State University is the professor in charge of a new “Bad Bunny class" offered to graduate students. It's not a class that studies Bad Bunny. The class being offered for the first time Spring 2023 uses Bad Bunny as a cultural lens to examine the ways in which pop culture, music, art and anything media related can flow from the global south to the global north.

“The U.S population is growing exponentially with Latinx individuals who have migrated here and those who are born here in the United States. And for them to be able to see somebody who looks like them, somebody who sounds like them on an American mainstream platform is important because it says you are not relegated to other countries, you are not relegated to the margins,” Dr. Rodriguez said in an interview with NBCLA.

For the Mexican-American professor, Bad Bunny is an example of how there is a huge demographic in the U.S that is often overlooked or pushed to the margins.

“It's not just about needing your own Latin Grammys or your own categories. It's that we are all here and deserve to be included,” Rodriguez said.

Professor Rodriguez elaborated how having an artist like El Conejo Malo on the Grammy stage and nominated in one of the top categories is a huge moment for Latinos in U.S culture.

“It's time to have somebody as big as Bad Bunny that represents who we are culturally and …there is a place for us," he said.

Dr. Rodriguez says that what makes the Latin rapper so admirable is his unwavering commitment to being himself, touching on themes of activism, inclusion, diversity and authenticity.

Bad Bunny is somebody who is unapologetically himself and we really haven’t seen a Latinx artist like that since Selena… someone who comes into the mainstream and says, 'you know what? I'm going to be myself and you either like it or you don’t like it.'

Dr. Nate Rodriguez of San Diego State University

Music is universal and Bad Bunny’s music is contagious, “everyone wants to be a part of the party” and on Sunday for the 2023 Grammys everyone is invited.

It is almost certain that Despues de la playa Bad Bunny will be at the Grammys showcasing Latino culture and pride on a world stage.

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