Bad Bunny & Cardi B Redux: A Reggaeton Obituary

Recent comments from old friends Steve and Ajiaco reference Bad Bunny. Ajiaco asks:

Now that Bad Bunny is one of the biggest stars in music of any genre I wonder if you’ll revisit this. What do you think of his most recent stuff?

I don’t change my opinion of him, but this statement on my critical article of Sad Bunny proved wrong:

My hopes for Bad Bunny to become the new king of reggaeton evaporated.

Bad Bunny sits atop the genre today, undisputed, the most dominant reggaetonero since Daddy Yankee. I don’t know if any other artist is in the same league. Nicky Jam, J Balvin, Ozuna? Nope.

I was going for humor and trying to be extreme. While that statement proved wrong, I’d argue that Sad Bunny did not become a king to me. I stand by the main crux of the 2018 critique of Sad Bunny, captured here:

Most of what’s wrong with the new album is … It’s not hard.

When Bad Bunny came on the scene with Tu No Vive Asi, I thought it was the dawn of a new artist making hard-ass songs to get amped up. What I call training music, or what Eminem once called “fight music for high-school kids.”

Bad Bunny followed that debut with some weak tracks like Me Acostumbre, but it wasn’t long before he dropped Chambea. The song featured Ric Flair and had Bad Bunny shouting “¡Jala!” It was turn-up music, and it reinforced my hope that Bad Bunny would be putting out hard music.

Bad Bunny has since blown up to become arguably the top reggaeton act of the moment … It’s great he’s rich and famous, but it’s not great for those of us hoping for hard music. Because the sound of this whole album and all of his songs since Chambea have softened. It sounds to me like the opioid epidemic. It’s great music to pop a bunch of pills and nod off to, but it’s not for American-football workouts.

Fast forward four years and I don’t have an opinion of any of his music since. I haven’t paid much attention, and that’s not because he always looks like a prick or his occasional gender-bender yoga style. I’m not for the war on trans, I’m neutral. I don’t have an opinion about his music because I don’t listen to reggaeton anymore. What I hear in passing sounds the same. It’s popular music, nothing remarkable.

The years since that critical post have been repat years living in Missouri, and reggaeton doesn’t come across my radar. Living in LatAm, you hear it in the streets, on the radio, etc. Here, nothing.

Remember that Bad Bunny debuted in 2016 with “Tu No Vive Asi” (video below), which headlined my 2016 “reggaeton roundup”, my last such roundup. Soon after publishing I decided that the genre had grown so much it was like hip hop. You would have to dedicate an entire website to covering it and its subgenres. Something like “The Source” for those who remember magazines. I wasn’t willing to go that far, even when I still lived there. So I stopped covering it altogether.

One artist came across my radar via YouTube, Jon Z, who I knew from his collaboration with Menor Menor (videos below), but whose music is probably just OK. I liked his carefree party attitude and his videos are funny.

Not so “busted-down stripper from the Bronx”

I would like to correct the record regarding the second subject of that Bad Bunny piece, who I disparagingly referred to as Cardi STD. I still don’t like her music, but she may have redeemed herself a little in a cameo she did on John Oliver. It was a funny bit, and I thought she looked nice. Dressed smart, not trashy. It reminded me of what my gay kid brother told me, “she has taste buds.” I wouldn’t have known. So there’s that.

I don’t have a video of myself cleaning and pressing 100kg, but anybody who has practiced the Olympic lifts or powerlifts appreciates the value of loud, aggressive music for the moments of maximum physical exertion. The reggaeton artist that I had hoped for in Bad Bunny with training music probably was Anuel (videos below).

Not long after the repat move I switched to bodyweight strength due to an abdominal hernia. Bodyweight exercises are done with control and the reps are less intense. You don’t need the amp-up soundtrack. So not only did I leave Latin America, I dropped the primary hobby that led me to search out aggressive music.

Upon repatriation I gathered that Lil Baby sat atop the rap game, and I had high hopes for Yella Beezy, but it didn’t last. I never turn on the hip-hop radio stations. Maybe I’m just getting old. I don’t like the foul language, especially when my children are around. I’m trying to steer them away from trouble. We’re in scouts and emphasize civic responsibility. Reggaeton and hip-hop are contradictory to that. They take you the other way.

I went through some rediscovery of the 90s, particularly “post-grunge alternative.” But more often than not, I’m listening to country. Old, pre-1990s country. I’ve fantasized about singing it. My wife says I’m not bad. If I were to do music posts again, I’d do country. No doubt about it.

Never say never, but this may be the last post on the reggaeton tag.

Songs Referenced

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s