Puerto Rican reggaetón star Bad Bunny (born Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio) is a global phenom. Since he entered the mainstream music industry in 2017, he’s released chart-topping albums, broken Spotify and Billboard records, received dozens of awards for his work, branched out into acting, and has become known for his activism and advocacy for Puerto Rico. Now, his impact has become unquestionable. Starting in the 2023-2024 school year, San Diego State University (SDSU) will offer its first-ever Bad Bunny course examining the ways that the Latin pop artist has changed reggaetón, machismo, and the music industry as a whole.
“Bad Bunny has transformed reggaetón like no other artist has,” Dr. Nathian Shae Rodriguez, the associate director of journalism and media studies, told CBS News. “When you think about reggaetón, it’s hypermasculine, machista is embedded in its core. And Bad Bunny has come and flipped it upside down. Bad Bunny gives us another side to masculinity, and how masculinity can be, how it should be. How it can be authentic, how it can be endearing, how it can be loving.”
Courses that allow students to study the impact of some of the world’s biggest pop stars have become a new trend for universities. UT Austin previously offered a course entitled “Beyoncé Feminism, Rihanna Womanism: Popular Music and Black Feminist Theory” while SDSU also previously had a course entitled “Selena and Latin-X Media Representation.” Dr. Rodriguez taught that course and will now be teaching the Bad Bunny course. The study of two of the most iconic Latinx musicians is a sign of progress toward a more inclusive educational program that recognizes the influence they’ve had in pop culture and their communities.
It’s validating and empowering to see Benito’s accomplishments and influence recognized in academia, especially with more and more Latinx students attending college. Despite all the barriers our community faces in pursuing higher education—including finances, immigration status, and lack of family support—the percentage of Latinx students that enroll in college or graduate with a degree in the U.S. is only increasing every year. By 2026, it’s even been predicted that the population of Latinx students in college will reach over 4 million, more than any other ethnic group. And now, starting in 2023, students at SDSU will be able to learn about one of the biggest and most successful Latin pop stars in history.
“People can feel me. I’m Latino; I’m Puerto Rican. Yo soy de Puerto Rico. People can feel that, you know?” he said in a previous interview on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah last year. “No matter…no importa de tu sea, lo vas sentirlo, como que, why do I have to change? Nadie le pide a una artista gringo que cambien. No one has told a gringo artist that you have to change. People love your music. This is who I am. This is my music. This is my culture. If you don’t like it, don’t listen to me. If you like it, you know.”