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Unhealthy Bunny Is Right here on the Proper Time | Cowl Interview

Unhealthy Bunny has a genius for efficiency, a present for difficult gender norms in trend and wonder, and a fiery ardour for his native Puerto Rico’s wealthy, thriving tradition.

Patricia Tortolani

Camila Falquez

“Yo soy Boricua, pa’que tu lo sepas.”

I ship the road in my finest Cuban/Puerto Rican-raised-in-Miami Spanish.

The blue hoodie slides again revealing a crisp New York Yankees snapback, a mop of curls beneath, deep brown eyes, and the suggestion of a smile amid three-day stubble.

Lastly, I breathe.

Analysis for this story had me satisfied that Unhealthy Bunny could be a person of few phrases, a tough interview. On the flight down I pressured a lot about find out how to get the 27-year-old Puerto Rican rapper-songwriter to open up, I didn’t discover we’d arrived till the aircraft’s wheels touched floor and passengers broke into applause (a Puerto Rican custom). “Simply inform him you converse his language,” my San Juan-based uncle endorsed me as he navigated the potholed streets exterior of Luis MuñouncesMarín Worldwide Airport. Unhealthy Bunny’s language is a Caribbean Spanish punctuated with profanities, damaged phrases, and extremely explicit regional phrases. It’s a dialect completely distinctive to him, delivered in an unmistakable rumbling baritone; a language that Google can’t translate, but half the world is singing alongside to.

After I let him know that I too am from the island, we comply with do the interview in Unhealthy Bunny’s native tongue — I’ll deal with the translating later. With this association, I quickly discover he’s neither a person of few phrases, nor a tough interview.

Prada coat. Viviana O’Ontanon brief necklace. Isa Noy lengthy necklace. Stylist’s personal durag. Photographed by Camila Falquez. Vogue stylist: Herin Choi. Hair: Ybelka Hurtado. Make-up: Frankie Boyd. Manicure: Chary Reyes and Carla M Negrón. Manufacturing: Worldjunkies Inc.

Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio is from Vega Baja, a rural city about 30 miles west of San Juan. Whereas attending faculty and dealing as a bagger on the native grocery retailer, Benito uploaded self-produced songs to SoundCloud as Unhealthy Bunny, a reputation impressed by a childhood picture of him dressed for an Easter celebration. In 2016, the observe “Diles,” a Puerto Rican spin on the lure sound of Atlanta, caught the eye of Rimas Leisure and Unhealthy Bunny was signed to the powerhouse Puerto Rican label. Chart-topping collaborations with Cardi B, Drake, and J Balvin quickly adopted. In 2020, Unhealthy Bunny carried out on the Tremendous Bowl LIV half-time present that was headlined by Jennifer Lopez and Shakira, and a few month later launched his second studio album, YHLQMDLG (a Spanish initialism for “I do no matter I would like”). The album, an homage to reggaetón (a mode popularized in Puerto Rico within the Nineteen Nineties that blends quite a lot of Caribbean and Latin American sounds with U.S. hip-hop), turned the highest-charting all-Spanish album ever on the Billboard 200 and was Spotify’s most-streamed album globally in 2020.

“Going purchasing with my mother, I might get misplaced within the ladies’s division.”

Joined by Unhealthy Bunny’s supervisor Noah Assad, publicist Sujeylee Solá, and a handful of his mates, we settle in for lunch at a seafood restaurant the place you’d sooner go for a silver-anniversary celebration than a sit-down with the world’s largest reggaetón celebrity. Nevertheless it’s the place Unhealthy Bunny likes to cover out today. “I at all times inform those that to know the culture of Puerto Rico, it’s a must to come right here and expertise it,” he says, ordering a soda for himself and codfish croquetas for the desk. “It says quite a bit that the shoot and the interview have been right here on the island. Not many individuals know Puerto Rico, and the reality is that proper now it’s at a cultural peak, with a lot of youngsters making artwork.” A snapshot of the cultural panorama might be seen at Pública Espacio Cultural, a big gallery house in San Juan’s Santurce neighborhood devoted to modern — and infrequently politically charged — works in addition to trend pop-ups by Puerto Rican artists; or heard on the native web radio station RadioRed, a self-described platform for inventive trade; or tasted at Lote 23, a meals truck park the place younger cooks like Mario Juan Pagán are serving modern takes on conventional Puerto Rican delicacies out of retrofitted Airstreams and kiosks.

As if on cue, a waiter interrupts us to present Jan Oliveras, one of many crew who wears his hair buzzed, bleached, and stenciled with hearts, a drawing {that a} patron sketched of him and despatched over to the desk. “¡Eso está cabrón! Eres como la musa de Picasso,” says Unhealthy Bunny. The desk erupts into laughter. (Cabrón, which accurately means “male goat” in Spanish, is slang for badass.)

Sure, the drawing is cabrón. It’s all cabrón. Oliveras’s splendidly bizarre coiffure, the teenage Unhealthy Bunny clones you see decked out in his trademark itty-bitty glasses and campy florals, and the easy incontrovertible fact that, because of Unhealthy Bunny’s affect, my 11-year-old lacrosse-playing son unironically paints his nails with glitter.

Does Unhealthy Bunny really feel chargeable for the fearless inventive spirit that has taken over males’s fashion; for tapping the nicely of feelings round tradition’s inflexible expectations of sexuality and gender expression?

“It’s tough to fathom,” he says. “As a result of individuals earlier than me have accomplished what I do, breaking guidelines and pushing boundaries. However possibly I received right here on the proper time, with the fitting power, and the whole lot aligned.”

Among the many viral hits on YHLQMDLG is “Yo Perreo Sola,” an anthem for ladies who wish to twerk in peace. For the music video, Unhealthy Bunny carried out the music in full drag: pink latex, swooping lashes, prosthetic breasts. It’s not the primary time his gender-bending tendencies have made headlines. In 2018, the singer popped right into a nail salon in Oviedo, Spain, the place he was on tour, for a recent manicure and was allegedly denied service as a result of he was a person. A month later he launched the hit “Como Soy” (“How I Am”) with Daddy Yankee and Pacho; within the music video, Unhealthy Bunny defiantly information his nails as he bops round a basketball courtroom rapping about medicine, thugs, and respect.

“My wrestling combat — I’ve watched it 100 instances. For every week, I might go to mattress watching it.”

“My look wasn’t a part of any particular plan,” he says. “After I was beginning to make my music, my fashion got here as a part of the method of liberating my thoughts and liberating spirit. Since I used to be younger, I had it in me — I simply needed to liberate it.”

Unhealthy Bunny describes a childhood spent taking part in with roosters, driving horses, and swimming within the river. “Going to the mall was a special day,” he says. Nevertheless it was on these journeys to el metro that he started to soak up the limitless potentialities of trend and the injustice of gender stereotypes.

“Going purchasing with my mother was certainly one of my favourite issues as a result of I might get misplaced within the ladies’s division, seeing the mixtures, the colours, the cuts, the designs. After which it was my flip to purchase garments and it was boring as hell. The identical denims and T-shirts, denims and T-shirts in numerous sizes. The ladies had all of it!” Don’t even get Unhealthy Bunny began on the iniquity of handbags. “For ladies there are such a lot of differing kinds, colours, shapes, designs…. And what do males get? A beat-up previous pockets to stuff in your pocket.”

There isn’t a doubt that Unhealthy Bunny’s unconventionality has helped make trend and wonder extra enjoyable for males. If one thing makes him glad, he wears it, he paints it on his nails, he posts it on Instagram. That happiness has introduced a extra eccentric and colourful actuality to the closets and psyches of a whole technology, to not point out the influence that Unhealthy Bunny and his fellow reggaetoneros, J Balvin and Maluma, have had on designer runways.

Fendi jacket, shirt, and pants. Prada sneakers. Chanel necklaces.

This yr, what introduced Unhealthy Bunny pleasure was coaching to turn into a professional wrestler on WWE, the hypermasculine and deeply flamboyant spectacle watched by tens of millions. Becoming a member of WWE was a childhood dream realized. The flashiness and showmanship of how the wrestlers seize the ropes, their facial expressions, the choreography — it was all absorbed by a younger Benito in Vega Baja. “I had the lucha libre [action figures], however I additionally had my very own character for when my brother and I wrestled on our mother and father’ mattress,” he recollects. “I had my entrance music and outfit — a jacket that I took from my dad and underwear that we painted and adorned. We’d play that for hours.” When Unhealthy Bunny talks about The Undertaker, Triple H, and Booker T, his pitch rises, his speech accelerates, and I understand that becoming a member of WWE is far more than a childhood dream realized. “Actually, wrestling has influenced me quite a bit, and I’ve utilized that to my profession,” he says. “The fashion, the significance of getting a trademark transfer or phrase or look, and at all times remembering the aspect of shock. In wrestling, the followers love getting caught off guard. I wish to create that very same emotion with my music.”

For 3 months Unhealthy Bunny stopped engaged on his music and moved to Kissimmee, Florida, the place he did two-a-days with a coach and went to the WWE health club to be taught the strikes. This was all main as much as his huge combat. “It was like I died and went to heaven,” he says. “I’ve by no means sat to look at a recording of certainly one of my live shows. By no means. However my wrestling fight — I’ve watched it 100 instances. For like every week, I might go to mattress watching it.”

Different performing tasks embody a visitor look on the Netflix unique sequence Narcos: Mexico and the David Leitch movie Bullet Practice, with Brad Pitt, slated for a 2022 launch. “Now that man appears good,” says Unhealthy Bunny of the 57-year-old Oscar-winner. “After I flip 30 I’m going to start out taking good care of my pores and skin and my face. Possibly I’ll begin performing some small aesthetic issues or plant some more hair on my head,” he muses. The reality is Unhealthy Bunny will do no matter he rattling nicely pleases. Possibly the perfect lesson to be taught from him is just not that gender norms exist to be shattered or that the youngsters actually are alright; a very powerful factor is to hacer lo que te da la gana — do no matter you need.

That night time, as my uncle and I stroll dwelling from dinner in Miramar, a neighborhood in San Juan that’s each hipster-y and steeped in historical past, we hear Unhealthy Bunny’s “Si Veo a Tu Mama” (“If I See Your Mother”) coming from the second-floor terrace of a centuries-old dwelling. After I search for, it’s not a raucous home occasion blazing up this Saturday night time. It’s an abuelita in her rocker, tapping her foot to the reggaetón beat.

Para leer este articulo en español, haz clic aquí.

Photographed by: Camila Falquez

Vogue stylist: Herin Choi

Hair: Ybelka Hurtado

Make-up: Frankie Boyd

Manicure: Chary Reyes and Carla M Negrón 

Manufacturing: Worldjunkies Inc. 

Photographed at: Casa Cubuy, Puerto Rico

Prime Picture: Louis Vuitton coat. Rick Owens high. The Pack pants. Mordekai brooch. Sneakers, stylist’s personal. Jewellery, Unhealthy Bunny’s personal.

This story initially appeared in Attract’s November 2021 difficulty. Be taught how to subscribe here.

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