Are Bad Bunny’s Pop Culture References The Reason For His Crossover Success?
It’s no secret that Latin crossover star Bad Bunny is a fan of 90’s era wrestling with his continuous references to some of the industry’s most notable wrestlers such as Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Undertaker, and your favorite rapper’s favorite wrestler Ric Flair, who just so happens to be featured on his latest smash hit “Chambea”. Not only does the wrestling sensation provide his infamous “woooo” ad-lib throughout the song, but he also co-stars in the video alongside Bad Bunny, which has raked up over 150 million views since it was released in December.
If you listen to Bad Bunny’s songs enough, though, you start to notice a trend which may be one of the reasons the Puerto Rican rapper has become so popular with both English and Spanish speakers. After all, Nicki Minaj, 21 Savage, and Travis Scott most recently dropped a remix to what is probably considered Bad Bunny’s biggest feature hit so far on Farruko’s “Krippy Kush“.
With references to everything from NBA all-star players like Jordan, Shaq, and Lebron, to mentioning Rihanna’s Fenty line, to getting lucky on prom night, there are a few pop culture references that might help people who aren’t too familiar with his music understand why some of the biggest artists in the game are so eager to work with him.
On “Tu No Metes Cabra“, a song with over 260 million views, we found an overload of pop culture references that every non-Spanish speaker can relate to. Here are a few:
“Ando con Adidas veloces como un puma/
El Undertaker saliendo de la bruma/
Y se apagan las luces”
“I’m wearing Adidas fast like a Puma/
The Undertaker coming out the mist with the lights off”
Bad Bunny mentions two brand names, Adidas and Puma, and puts a twist on his literary wordplay where he explains that even though he is wearing Adidas, he can still run as fast as a puma, which just so happens to be the name of another sportswear brand. You can’t help but to wonder if this is a strategic ploy to try and entice a future endorsement with either of the the sportswear giants. He also goes on to reference yet again another wrestling star, The Undertaker, who is known for entering the ring in a dark, foggy mist.
As if using two brand name giants such as Adidas and Puma, and referring to The Undertaker weren’t enough pop culture gems in “Tu No Metes Cabra”, Bad Bunny keeps them coming… In an NBA reference, a trend that Bad Bunny fans can tell you he consistently makes throughout his discography, he goes on to “warn” his enemies what will happen to them if they cross him.
“Te damos doble play/
No Existe Replay/
Son Miami sin Lebron y Wade”
We’ll give you double play/
Y’all are like Miami without Lebron and Wade”
He later goes on to mention another NBA reference later in the song, this time, using Shaquille O’Neal as an example:
“Shaquille O’Neal debajo del aro/
nadie me quita un rebote”
“Shaquille O’Neal under the hoop/
Nobody can take my rebounds”
Largely considered the rebound king of his era, Bad Bunny compares himself to NBA great Shaq when explaining his ability to bounce back.
In yet again another pop culture reference on “Tu No Metes Cabra” though, we hear something that isn’t found too often in Spanish songs… A reference to prom. You know, every high schooler’s most anticipated event besides graduation. Everybody knows that prom is largely known for teens letting loose, drinking, getting wild, and on every teenage boy’s list, of course… Getting laid.
“Se bebe y se chinga como en prom
Yo soy un hijue’ puta punto com”
“We drink and fuck like at prom/
I’m a son of bitch dot com”
Although Bad Bunny hasn’t quite accumulated years worth of lyrical content yet, it’s pretty safe to say that in just a short time, he has a lot of people paying attention. We can’t help but to wonder, though, if the relevancy of him as an artist is solely because of his showmanship abilities and stage presence, his lyrical wordplay, his pop culture comparisons, or a combination of all of the above. One of the most surprising lyrics he dropped was on “Tu No Vive Así” with Latin Trap co-star Arcángel where he mentions the 4-day music fest in Chicago known for it’s crazy crowd-surfing audience, also known infamously as Lollapalooza.
“Y si conmigo te cruces cabrón/
Te vamos dejar brincando como en Lollapalooza”
“If you cross me bitch/
We’ll leave you jumping like Lollapalooza”
Lastly, on Latin megastar Ozuna‘s more recent hit “Solita” featuring Bad Bunny, the rapper goes on to name-drop the Puma brand again, this time, more specifically, Rihanna’s Fenty line that is wildly popular amongst the young and trendy female consumer.
“Conmigo to’ Gucci, to’ Fendi/
Con tu novio ni las Puma Fenty”
“With me everything is Gucci and Fendi/
Your boyfriend doesn’t even give you Puma’s Fenty”
It’s references like these that we keep hearing in Bad Bunny’s songs that make us wonder if he’s being strategic in dropping these pop culture bombs in an effort to relate to the average American. Could his ability to understand our pop culture be one of the main reasons that celebrities like Diddy and Floyd Mayweather have been seen hanging out with him? What is it exactly that has American artists crooning his songs (in Spanish) all over Instagram? Even before his recent incarceration, platinum rapper Meek Mill hinted at a possible remix to the trap star’s “Soy Peor” on The Angie Martinez show last July.
It’s fair to say that whatever the reason, even if it’s just sheer talent, that the Latin rap star is onto something big, and has secured his place as one of music’s newest crossover stars.