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Bad Bunny: Why His Grammy Performance Was Historic

In case you missed this or didn’t see the significance of Bad Bunny opening the 2023 Grammys last week, let me highlight a couple of points.

First… this artist from the smallest island in the Greater Antilles is the most listened to, the most streamed artist GLOBALLY. Just that one stat alone... Wow! This should have flat-out given El Conejo Malo the Album of the Year at the Grammys. No doubt!!! Anything to the contrary just does not make any logical sense.

"Never mind that Bad Bunny’s global reach is currently unparalleled, Un Verano Sin Ti was the biggest album of 2022." Marjua Estevez

Second… his genius. Lyrics aside, his philosophy is to unite people. His passion is to create unity in the island of Puerto Rico that is going through some very difficult challenges, with the hurricanes, earthquakes, corruption and apparent abandonment from it’s “owner” (United States). He wants to create a “big party” to release stress, then use the energy to make positive changes in the island. On some songs, he eludes to this mission, and sometimes uses sarcasm, satire and word play to highlight the hypocrisy of what is happening in the island to its people.

Third… it is this last point that was on display at the Grammys. He kicked it off with a traditional Batucada, a surprise plena show. As they walked down the aisle, they were singing traditional plena songs! And this was an actual musical group from Puerto Rico (Agua, Sol y Sereno) that he was giving the global spotlight to, selflessly. As part of the pleneros he had those heads, los “cabezudos”… let’s talk about who they were:

  • Roberto Clemente. A Hall of Fame baseball player who was famously a humanitarian and gave his life helping earthquake victims in Nicaragua. He was a human rights activist and a civil rights activist while a player in the Major Leagues.

  • Tego Calderon. One of my favorite hip hop artists in any language. An amazing lyricist and hip hop artist. Tego revolutionized latin hip hop, he highlighted our African heritage and sang out against civil rights abuses. He is active in fighting global abuses against women, children and blood diamonds.

  • Ismael “Maelo” Rivera. An amazing salsa musician who was the pioneer of salsa music in our island. The Godfather, a true, true pioneer. He also highlighted our African heritage and used music to unite the culture.

  • Tite Curet Alonso. One of the most prolific salsa songwriters of our culture, in the history of tropical music. He composed over 2,000 songs and poems, many of them highlighting the every day struggles and passionate love experienced in the island community. He also has a really cool bronze statue on a park bench in the Plaza de Armas in Old San Juan that you could sit next him.

  • Andy Montañez. A renown singer, was the lead singer for El Gran Combo and has a rich musical repertoire to his credit. He advocates for Puerto Rican independence and against corruption.

  • Lola Rodríguez de Tió. She was a Puerto Rican poet and independence activist who fought for the rights of her people. Her poems and writings inspired the Puerto Rican nationalist movement and was a trailblazer for women's rights in Puerto Rico through her activism and writing.

  • Julia de Burgos. She was a Puerto Rican poet, writer, and feminist who used her work to express the struggles of the Puerto Rican people and advocate for social justice. Her poetry and essays addressed issues such as racism, colonialism, and gender inequality, and led the original emigration to New York City in the mid-20th century.

  • Felisa Rincón de Gautier “Doña Fela”. She was the first woman to be elected as mayor of a capital city in the Americas, serving as the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico for 22 years. She is recognized for her contributions to the development of modern Puerto Rico, including infrastructure improvements, social programs, and cultural initiatives. Doña Fela also played a significant role in Puerto Rican politics and was an advocate for Puerto Rico's autonomy within the United States.

Fourth… he transitioned into his hit “El Apagón,” who he used as a Trojan horse to sneak in a 20-minute hard-hitting documentary by Bianca Graulau. She has been a huge whistleblower to local government corruption and corruption led by millionaires looking to exploit the island. The documentary received millions of views because of Bad Bunny’s platform. Say what you want, this particular song hits on pride of the island and has the hook “Puerto Rico estoy cabron,” which is the anthem. This anthem unites whenever it is played. He also chose the verse that throws a punch at American imperialism, while performing in America’s biggest musical stage. It’s brilliant.

Fifth… the transition to “Despues De La Playa” was brilliant. Think about it… he went from Plena, to Reggaeton, to Merengue Ripiao. It’s worth noting that Merengue Ripiao is literally a niche genre within the Dominican Republic. Bad Bunny met with renowned musician and songwriter Dahian El Apechao to put together a song that honored the pure tradition of this music with the cadence, rhythm and style. He had El Apechao and his band on stage LIVE playing this specific music genre.


Further Breakdown:

Benito Antonio Martinez Ocasio, better known as Bad Bunny, is a Puerto Rican rapper and singer who has become one of the most influential figures in Latin music. He has won multiple awards and nominations, including several Latin Grammy Awards, and has collaborated with a variety of artists in different genres. On the 2023 Grammy Awards, Bad Bunny opened up the ceremony with a special show featuring a group of collaborators that represented a cross-section of Latin American and Caribbean music.

Bad Bunny's performance was significant for several reasons. Firstly, it highlighted the increasing visibility and recognition of Latin American and Caribbean artists in the mainstream music industry. The inclusion of Bad Bunny as a performer and the selection of a diverse group of collaborators emphasized the Grammys' commitment to diversity and inclusion in music.

Secondly, Bad Bunny's performance showcased the richness and diversity of Latin American and Caribbean music. By blending different genres and styles, the performance celebrated the creativity and innovation of Latin American and Caribbean artists and their contributions to the global music scene.

Lastly, Bad Bunny's performance was significant for its political and social implications. As a Puerto Rican artist, Bad Bunny has been vocal about his support for Puerto Rico's autonomy and the island's struggles for social justice. By featuring collaborators from different parts of Latin America and the Caribbean, the performance underscored the unity and solidarity among the region's artists and their shared experiences of colonialism, migration, and discrimination.


In conclusion, Bad Bunny's opening performance at the 2023 Grammys was a powerful celebration of diversity, creativity, and political awareness in music. It highlighted the importance of Latin American and Caribbean artists in shaping the global music industry and demonstrated the potential of music as a force for social change and unity. I am so grateful that he did this performance at this stage. It was well worth creating this post to highlight the historical significance of this momentous event.

Duamel Vellon


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