A few weeks ago, Bad Bunny, whose real name is Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio, released his music video for “Yo Perreo Sola,” a powerful, beat-heavy track from his latest album, “YHLQMDLG.” To say that it’s worth a look is an understatement — my friends and I have watched the video several times, entranced by every detail, from the flawlessness of Bad Bunny’s makeup to the references to Latin America’s feminist movement.
Bad Bunny’s fame has been punctuated by his unapologetic stances on gender equality. He’s known for wearing feminine clothing, nail polish and, in a recent performance on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon," a skirt and T-shirt that called attention to the murder of Alexa Negrón Luciano, a transgender woman in Puerto Rico. While he has his share of the usual songs about sex and love with women, he takes a totally different approach with “Yo Perreo Solá,” a song about women who wish to dance — or perrear — alone.
“I wrote the song from a woman’s perspective,” he said in an interview with Rolling Stone. That explains why, for the majority of the video, Bad Bunny performs in full drag (featuring a seamlessly attached breastplate and all). He continues, “I wanted a woman’s voice to sing it — ‘yo perreo sola’ — because it doesn’t mean the same thing when a man sings it.”
In the music video, Bad Bunny takes it one step further by becoming that woman himself. Instead of telling men to just sympathize with women — to ask, “What if that girl was your sister, your daughter?” like we’ve all heard before — he embodies womanhood. Rather than thinking of women as others, he demands that the viewer see men and women as the same, both equally deserving of respect and bodily autonomy, hence his transformation.
The main lyrics of the song, “Yo perreo sola,” roughly translate to “I dance alone,” and the last word, “sola,” specifies that the speaker is feminine. In the music video, Bad Bunny raps these lyrics in drag as he wards off leering men, fondles his own breasts and grinds against his masculine self in a dark room with neon allusions to the feminist movement. These neon signs feature the phrases “las mujeres mandan” and “ni una menos,” which translate to “the women rule” and “not one less,” respectively.
“Las mujeres mandan” is not just Bad Bunny’s personal statement on feminism and gender equality — it’s also a reference to an empowering feminist song by Paquita La Del Barrio, a famous Mexican singer known for her focus on women’s rights. “Ni una menos,” similarly, is a phrase made famous by the Latin-American feminist movement. It rose to fame in Argentina, where it was used by protesters specifically to call attention to femicides, or the killing of women due to their gender, but grew to encompass several other issues, like domestic violence, sex trafficking and more.
Released days after International Women’s Day on March 8 and Mexico’s monumental women’s strike on March 9, the music video for “Yo Perreo Sola” is a proud affirmation of women’s demands for an end to toxic, often deadly machismo culture. Though some may think that pressuring a woman at the club to dance with them is totally unrelated to the rate of femicides, Bad Bunny knows better: The lack of respect for a woman’s right to do what she wants with her body is exactly what perpetuates violence against women.
From beginning to end, I was awestruck by the weight of all the details in Bad Bunny’s music video, along with his incredible outfits. What stuck with me most was that he managed to create a feminist anthem directed toward other men. While I can joyfully sing to the chorus on repeat (in my high-school-level Spanish), I know the lyrics are not pointed at me: They’re a declaration to the men that need to give us our space and back off, “tranqui!”
Bolstering his lyrics, the feminist imagery in “Yo Perreo Sola” speaks to Bad Bunny’s devotion to spotlight marginalized voices and social issues. Considering his record of standing by the LGBTQ community and challenging traditional gender roles, I’m even more excited for the future of Bad Bunny’s artistry.
Still, one key question remains: Who is the feminine voice on the track, and where is she in the music video? The vocals belong to the up-and-coming Puerto Rican singer Nesi, who was notably missing from the video.
While fans have theorized that her absence is due to an older conflict between Bad Bunny and Nesi’s recording label, Hear This Music, her lack of visibility in her own work demonstrates just how much more needs to be done to fill the gaps of gender inequality. So until she performs on stage with Bad Bunny and receives the public recognition she deserves, I’ll be sharing her version of the music video with anyone who will watch it.
And lastly, don’t forget. We might be social distancing now, but once we’re at parties and clubs again: If she doesn’t want to dance with you, respect her — “ella perrea sola.”