The 100 Most Influential People of 2021
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September 15, 2021 7:19 AM EDT

I met Bad Bunny in Puerto Rico about five years ago. Benito was an up-and-coming artist then, making a lot of noise on the streets and on SoundCloud. When I saw him, I was like, “Oh, he’s another weirdo like me. I’m not the only one now.” We immediately went to the studio and cut a song, “Si Tu Novio Te Deja Sola.” It blew up. He’s a phenomenon when it comes to music, but it didn’t happen overnight; he was working at the supermarket back then, and had to struggle too. We’ve since worked together on an album, Oasis, and the Super Bowl halftime show.

Watching him is like seeing a little brother make his dream come true. I met him when he was like a little monster, and now he is like Godzilla. He has amazing lyrics, and he understands the importance of creating his brand. If everybody’s going to the right, he’s going to the left. He’s an advocate for self-expression: If you want to go and wear a miniskirt, just go ahead and do it. If you want to use lipstick, go ahead. Do whatever you want to do. That freedom connects with people pretty hard.

He’s an artist, period. A true artist. Now he’s at his peak, taking Latin culture to another level. The records he’s broken are amazing. He’s different. Special. People wait for someone to die to say, “Oh, he was a legend.” But I’m telling Benito now: You are one of the greatest artists in Latin music history.

Balvin is a Grammy-nominated musical artist

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