In ‘El Apagón’ Bad Bunny tackles gentrification and power outages

Bad Bunny waves a flag during a 2019 national strike demanding the resignation of Puerto Rico governor Ricardo Rossello.

Bad Bunny waves a flag during a 2019 national strike demanding the resignation of Puerto Rico governor Ricardo Rossello.
PhotoERIC ROJAS/AFPGetty Images

Puerto Rican Artist Benito Antonio Martinez Opportunity -aka bad bunny— dropped his fifth studio album on May 6and it’s already 2022 most streamed album† his title, A summer without you translates to “A Summer Without You”, and the atmosphere is reminiscent of a languid beach day and being Afterparty: There are songs about dancing, drinking, hooking up and lost love.

And then there’s “The Blackout,” or The Blackout, where Bad Bunny exchanges verses about why he loves his home with scorching attacks on his political leaders and gentrifiers on the mainland: “Damn, another blackout. Let’s get to going to the stands to take a blunt before I punch Pipo.’ Damn, another blackout. Let’s go to the stands and blunt before I punch Pipo.

“Pipo” is a nickname for the islets current governorPedro Pierluisi. he is a former coal lobbyist running an island that experiences regular power outages. Last year, Pierluisi promised the residents that there would be fewer energy outages in the future… and then at the beginning of April a fire broke out on the Costa Sur power station, which plunges millions into darkness. Schools had to close and the intensive care unit of a medical center in Mayagüez temporarily lost power

Both residents and businesses are fed up with the power outages. Last month, four major companies sued LUMA, the island’s power authority, for: $310 million in damage† Angry residents gathered outside LUMA’s San Juan office and throwing bags of food that were spoiled in their refrigerators. All told, the April outage cost Puerto Rico’s economy up to $500 million, according to the new day

Pipo is not the only one who has started working in “El Apagón”. At the end of the song, Bad Bunny’s partner Gabriela Berlingeri can be seen sing “I don’t want to leave here, I don’t want to leave here, let them go”, or “I don’t want to leave, I don’t want to go, she should leave”—presumably referring to new islanders, including mainland Americans, social media influencers, and “crypto settlers” which have made many natives feel unwelcome in their own homes.

Other songs on the album, such as “Andrea”, also dealing with the tug-of-war between love for the island, its people and its culture, but understanding the reality of having to live there. “Quiere quedarse en PR, no irse pa’ ningún estado pero todo se ha complicado,” sings Bad Bunny: “She wants to stay in PR and not leave for some state, but everything has gotten complicated.”

Despite the complaints, the lyrics of “El Apagón” also remind listeners that “Puerto Rico está bien cabrón” or “Puerto Rico is damn awesome”. The song balances the joys of being the island with the trials and tribulations of living with displacement, dodgy politicians, and regular power cuts — reminding listeners that they’re worth fighting for.

That is a particularly important message in light of recent protests† Last year, environmentalists and residents of the popular resort town of Rincón protested at a condo site to stop construction of a swimming pool cutting off access to the beach and threatening endangered turtles laying their eggs nearby. Earlier this year, beach goers attacked by wealthy homeowners and a party protest was staged by native Puerto Ricans. A month later, another protest party shouted “Ghetto Beach” was held in Dorado. People danced, sunbathed and chanted “yo soy Boricua, pa que tu lo sepas” / “I’m Puerto Rican, just so you know.”

Like the protests, Bad Bunny’s ‘El Apagón’ provides listeners with rays of light amid the island’s literal and socio-economic darkness. Things aren’t perfect, but Puerto Rico está bien cabrón at least.

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