Dangerous Bunny threw the get together of the 12 months for Puerto Ricans — and didn’t skip the politics


Between breaking Spotify data, starring in a new Brad Pitt film, and getting solid as a Marvel superhero, Dangerous Bunny’s having a helluva 12 months. No different Latin artist at this time has reached such international stardom — and, but, the reggaetón rapper solely has eyes for one place: Puerto Rico.

To kick off the tour for his newest album, Un Verano Sin Ti, Dangerous Bunny booked El Choli, San Juan’s largest indoor enviornment, for 3 nights straight. The $15-$150 tickets weren’t offered on-line, so people camped exterior for hours. That was by design; the tickets had been supposed to actually solely be accessible to those that stay on the island. Naturally, a report celebrating the island’s magnificence, women, and resilience ought to be correctly danced to by its folks.

The reserving was an indication to outsiders to remain out. Years after Hurricane María devastated the island, Puerto Rico now could be going through an uptick in gentrification and growth, particularly from mainland Individuals who’re receiving a hefty tax break in return. However sources for islanders haven’t improved. Newcomers are claiming the seashores are non-public property, when legally all of them are public. Builders are polluting the water and endangering the wildlife. This rigidity comes on prime of blackouts, attributable to the current privatization of electrical energy (charges have elevated seven instances within the final 12 months alone). It’s a sentiment Dangerous Bunny touched on in his music “El Apagón” (actually: “The Blackout”).

So what do Puerto Ricans do? We get together. As a response to rising developer tensions, get together protests have cropped up from coast to coast as an act of reclamation and dissent. Within the standard seaside city of Rincón, protesters danced to plena whereas they tore down and cleaned up development supplies deserted by builders final month. (The courts had declared the work unlawful in February, after a 12 months of protests.) These protests aren’t simply dancing to good beats, although. They’re rooted in a protracted historical past of direct motion and sometimes include brushes with police.

It’s vital that the primary of those performances was broadcast on Telemundo PR — think about if, say, ABC had Beyoncé carry out on nationwide tv for 4 hours straight. Whereas Dangerous Bunny isn’t a political organizer, he’s an amplifier, given his big platform. Via his music, his specific eager for a greater Puerto Rico is evident. His record-breaking performances final weekend exuded a cathartic, collective pleasure for attendees and streamers alike.

Contemplating Puerto Rico’s fraught relationship with america, Dangerous Bunny’s highlight on the nation holds a sure weight. For a lot of islanders, Puerto Rico’s standing as a US territory has created a sense of inferiority and internalized colonialism, mentioned José A. Laguarta Ramírez, a analysis affiliate at Hunter Faculty’s Middle for Puerto Rican Research. “There’s usually this concept that Puerto Rico’s too small to make it or for nice issues to return out of right here,” he advised me. “A aspect impact of that’s each time a Puerto Rican does one thing that will get recognition internationally, it’s a supply of nationwide delight, a sort of cultural nationalism.” (I’ll admit: I’m responsible of this, too, as a Diasporican.)

Politically, Puerto Rico could be very divided. There are teams that need independence from the US, those that need to keep as a territory, and those that need to turn into a state. However regardless of the place you fall, people see celebrities like Jennifer Lopez and Daddy Yankee as proof that, sure, Puerto Rico could be a place folks may be pleased with — regardless of the bullshit. Dangerous Bunny, who grew up in Vega Baja’s public housing, is simply the newest to be added to the nationwide canon.

As Dangerous Bunny’s movie star exponentially grows, these reveals had been a refreshing reminder of what — and who — reggaetón is for. Dangerous Bunny didn’t go away Puerto Rico behind as he ascended the charts. He introduced it with him.

Dangerous Bunny’s rise to fame may be partially attributed to his predilection for genre-bending. Positive, it’s reggaetón, however there are additionally touches of rock, R&B, salsa, dembow, and a lot extra. He’s daring and experimental, whereas concurrently referring to the hallmarks of the style. Un Verano Sin Ti is reflective of that inclusion. The options vary from reggaetón heavyweights like Tony Dize and Chencho Corleone to up-and-coming Puerto Rican indie artists resembling The Marías and Buscabulla. He may’ve featured American artists — he’s actually large enough to take action. However in a Could interview with the New York Occasions’s Isabelia Herrera, Dangerous Bunny mentioned he’d quite put “the entire world onto underground from Puerto Rico, you realize? That makes me really feel pleased with what I symbolize.”

Followers agree. As Carlos Nagovitch, a live performance attendee, advised me in Spanish, “He has by no means stopped making music from Puerto Rico.”

Definitely, reggaetón’s worldwide reputation is skyrocketing, and never all the hits are coming from Puerto Ricans (Rosalía’s “La Fama” or J Balvin’s “Mi Gente” come to thoughts). So to actually dwelling in on artists from the island or from the diaspora is an final energy play. The world could possibly devour and churn out reggaetón, however divorcing the music from its historical past and its context isn’t going to occur if Dangerous Bunny has something to say about it. “Everybody needs to be Latino, however they lack rhythm, drums, and reggaetón,” he sings in “El Apagón.”

However qué emoción to have an artist who cares extra about being accessible to Puerto Ricans than American notion. In the event you weren’t at El Choli, you had been watching the Telemundo PR broadcast or livestreaming at a celebration within the plazas close by. There have been greater than 18,000 folks at these reveals each night time, and that’s not together with individuals who watched from dwelling. The performances had been an occasion for all Puerto Ricans, even these within the diaspora who watched from TikTok or Twitch.

There was a particular, once-in-a-lifetime high quality to those performances. “It was simply us and him,” mentioned live performance attendee Alysa M. Alejandro Soto. “I really feel like that’s one thing he wished to realize: a particular, intimate second with PR.” Throughout all three reveals, Dangerous Bunny spoke concerning the privatization of the electrical energy grid, the gender violence ladies expertise, and the air pollution of the seashores. As a result of Dangerous Bunny’s music already lends itself to points on the island — “El Apagón,” “Andrea,” and “Yo Perreo Sola” are all nice examples — it was anticipated he’d have one thing to say concerning the collective experiences Puerto Ricans face. “We’ve a authorities over us that messes up our lives day in and day trip,” he mentioned earlier than telling the non-public electrical energy firm and the governor to go “pal el carajo.”

He additionally spoke of a greater PR.

“He requested the gang how many people wished to realize our goals whereas residing in Puerto Rico,” Alejandro Soto added. “It made me actually emotional since I’m at present residing away from PR for educational causes and I miss it every single day. He’s utilizing his platform very correctly to carry consciousness to points that have an effect on Puerto Rico and to interrupt many stereotypes.”

The vitality on the reveals, in accordance with indie band Buscabulla’s Raquel Berrios and Luis Alfredo Del Valle, was “completely large” and like “a portal to a different dimension.” The duo, who’re featured on the music “Andrea,” carried out alongside Dangerous Bunny at 2 am every night time. For Berrios, it was the biggest present she’s ever finished, and possibly some of the emotional, too.

“The present was a particular present made for Puerto Rico,” Berrios advised me. “I simply hope it evokes folks. I hope that it will get extra folks to only be extra concerned with the problems of PR and possibly having larger artists be extra conscious and do extra for Puerto Rico.”

Buscabulla weren’t the one ones delivered to the stage. In addition to the artists featured on Un Verano Sin Ti and a few followers with wonderful dance strikes, Dangerous Bunny additionally invited queer musicians like Younger Miko and Villano Antillano, the primary distinguished trans Latin rap artist. Misogyny and transphobia is pervasive on the island, so to see these artists on stage, who are sometimes marginalized throughout the style, on the largest live performance in Puerto Rico’s historical past on nationwide tv is mind-blowing.

“I’m a queer lady, and rising up we by no means actually had songs about ladies liking ladies,” mentioned Alejandro Soto. “We at all times needed to make the city music made by heterosexual males match as a result of it’s what we had. Younger Miko, Villano, and different queer artists are doing one thing crucial, and it makes me so proud that they’re from PR.”

For Marisol LeBrón, an affiliate professor on the College of California Santa Cruz, she loved how “tongue-in-cheek” the performances had been.

“I used to be on Twitter and seeing stuff that was like, ‘I really feel so unhealthy for individuals who aren’t Puerto Rican,’” she mentioned. “There’s something that’s actually highly effective about that — to affirm this sense of unbelievable delight every single day. The truth that the reveals gave an outlet for folks to counter the overwhelming dominance of that [inferiority] narrative and the sort of issues that govern folks’s on a regular basis lives is definitely wonderful.”

It’d be a misnomer to say that Dangerous Bunny is on the coronary heart of change on the island, or that he’s the final word ally. However, rattling, he can throw a celebration.

“It’s larger than Dangerous Bunny,” LeBrón mentioned. “It’s about this vitality and it’s about this connection. It’s this sense of being united.”