Bad Bunny Talks About Overcoming Depression: "I Had Disappeared"
The artist spoke to El País about being "an artist who sees things differently and tries to create his own world."
Bad Bunny is a global icon today, but that doesn't mean he's forgotten his pre-fame days when he worked bagging groceries at a supermarket in Vega Alta. In an interview with El País, the 26-year old Puerto Rican trap and reggaeton star admitted staying sane is not always easy. "Some days it's difficult, but I haven't had time to go crazy," he joked. "I recently realized 100 percent what I had achieved, perhaps a year or six months ago, but until then, I forgot many times. I felt I was the chamaquito from the supermarket. Something would happen and I would say, 'Diablos!' and then I would [remember], 'Oh, no wait, I have [money] here,'" he said while pointing to his pocket.
The artist — whose real name is Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio — has over 29 million Instagram followers and was the number-one global artist of 2020 on Spotify. His most recent album, El Último Tour del Mundo, made history as the first all-Spanish production to reach the top of the Billboard 200 chart. El Conejo Malo, who made his acting debut in the Netflix series Narcos: Mexico and shares the screen with Brad Pitt in the upcoming film Bullet Train, defines himself as "an artist who sees things differently and tries to create his own world."
Benito grew up in a middle-class family; his mom was an English teacher and his dad was a truck driver. At first the trapero considered being a journalist and studied communication at the University of Puerto Rico before following his dreams in music. With "Soy Peor," he made his triumphal debut in 2016.
Even though his lyrics are filled with references to sex, he told the newspaper that he tries to make sure they are not machista. He defines himself as an advocate for the LGBTQ community and for feminism. "I have many types of fans: fans from the LGBTQ community, and I'm sure also homophobic fans; feminists and machistas," he said. "I have the capacity to get them all hooked with reggaeton and this vocabulary. I talk the way we talk, and I give them a message without making them feel like it's a sermon."
He has broken the mold when it comes to fashion, wearing skirts and long colorful nails. He also dressed as a woman in the music video for "Yo Perreo Sola." Since he was a child, he questioned why women painted their nails and men didn't, adding that he was attracted to women's clothing because it was more creative. "It's a part of me and it's ended up becoming revolutionary."
In 2020 he made fans nervous by considering retirement. "At that moment I said it because I felt it," he explained. "I am a person that changes his mood suddenly, I'm very sentimental."
The multifaceted star said he suffered depression a few years ago. "From 2016 to 2018 I disappeared," he recalled. "I was inside a capsule, I didn't find out about anything. The world would see me but I had disappeared." Due to his busy work schedule, he became disconnected from his family and stopped enjoying his favorite pastimes, like watching boxing matches. "That's when I said, 'Who am I? What's going on?'" He said he traveled from Argentina to his home in Puerto Rico and took some time off.
Success hasn't changed his essence. He grew up admiring Puerto Rican salsero Héctor Lavoe, and singing in Spanish he has recorded with mainstream stars like Drake, Cardi B, and Jennifer Lopez. "We have to break away from [the idea that] gringos are gods. No, papi," he said. "It makes me really proud to get to this level by speaking in Spanish, and not only in Spanish, in the Spanish we speak in Puerto Rico, without changing my accent."