The live music tour of Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio, better known as Bad Bunny, rolls through Phoenix at Chase Field next Wednesday.
It’s the concert of the late summer in the city and its metro area. From kids and preteens to adults, many who are Latino but plenty of others who are not, the place to be on Sept. 28 will be the Arizona Diamondbacks’ ballpark.
Downtown Phoenix is about to be teeming with fans of the Puerto Rican rapper, whose music resonates with many. Tickets aren’t cheap, with the lowest prices at $280 for upper level seats as of Friday. But one group of Bad Bunny fans that could easily pay those prices won’t be there for the show.
The Diamondbacks themselves. They are on the road in Houston when Bad Bunny makes his Phoenix appearance.
That doesn’t mean the Diamondbacks are completely missing out. Bad Bunny’s music is a big part of the Major League Baseball soundtrack, from clubhouses to batters’ walk-up music, stretching across the game.
“The beats, the rhythm, it’s like somewhere between dance music and good energy, good vibes,” Diamondbacks first baseman Christian Walker said. “There’s something about it that makes you want to move around and feel the rhythm. I’m a fan. He does a great job with his albums.”
Walker had hoped to go to the Chase Field show. Observant fans know Walker uses a wide array of at-bat song genres, including Latin and hip-hop, and he takes the time to look up and translate Bad Bunny lyrics so he can understand them.
“My Spanish isn’t great, so sometimes it takes me a while to decipher what the songs are about,” Walker said. I’m actually kind of disappointed that we’re going to be out of town when he’s here.”
From reggaeton to merengue to bachata to house beats in his latest album “Un Verano Sin Ti (A Summer Without You),” Bad Bunny’s sound and signature vocals and raps are a hit worldwide. The album is the first one all in Spanish to spend at least 10 weeks atop the Billboard 200 chart.
The record is being streamed more than a hundred million times per week.
“All Puerto Ricans love Bad Bunny’s music,” Diamondbacks infielder Emmanuel Rivera, a native of the island, said in Spanish before Friday’s game against the San Francisco Giants. “Going to the (Chase Field) show, I wasn’t even aware of it. But the thing is, the music is contagious and we Latinos just like it. There’s no real way to describe it.”
Bad Bunny has 10 Latin Grammy nominations in seven categories, including album of the year, according to a New York Times report, and is now using his giant platform to address political and social issues in Puerto Rico. He recently released a music video for his song “El Apagón” (The Blackout), which is followed by a documentary about inequities in land and real estate and sheds light on electricity grid problems on the storm-ravaged island.
Many of the major and minor league players who walk up to home plate, or warm up on the mound to Bad Bunny, are from Latin American countries. Bad Bunny’s appeal extends from Puerto Rico to the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Mexico and other parts of Latin America and the US
“I think he’s one of the most powerful artists in the urban music industry. He’s very influential,” Diamondbacks shortstop Geraldo Perdomo said in Spanish. “He’s popular in many countries. Many of the boys like the rhythm, the message in the music, and that’s why so many of them use it.
“Even if we (Latinos) don’t have all the same customs and culture, if it has a good beat the players use it no matter where it’s from,” added Perdomo, who is from the Dominican Republic. “I use a Cuban song and I’m not Cuban, but the song has a message I identify with about the government and freeing Cuba.”
MLB recognized how engrained Bad Bunny is in today’s game, and in July invited the artist to All-Star Game festivities in Los Angeles.
The company that represents Bad Bunny, who has branched out into acting and actual wrestling with the WWE promotion, did not respond to numerous requests from the Republic for an interview with the artist.
“There’s a lot of music he has with which a person can identify,” Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Esteury Ruiz said in Spanish when his team was in town to play the Diamondbacks earlier this season. “It’s the words he uses. You can relate to it. Stories of life, stories about people, stories about families and things.”
Ketel Marte is one of the Diamondbacks’ players who has used Bad Bunny songs for his walk-up music at Chase Field.
“For a Latino, Bad Bunny’s music has a feeling, a good vibe, a very positive thing,” Marte said in Spanish. “Not a lot of bad words, nothing that could make people think bad about us.”