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Latino pride: Bad Bunny's influence felt at a packed Oakland Coliseum

Hispanic Heritage Month: Puerto Rican music superstar Bad Bunny rocks the Oakland Coliseum
Hispanic Heritage Month: Puerto Rican music superstar Bad Bunny rocks the Oakland Coliseum 02:15

OAKLAND -- The vibes at the Oakland Coliseum on Wednesday night are almost hard to explain. Thousands of Bad Bunny fans packed the park singing along to all of his hits. 

Some held their flag – showing pride for where they're from. Others knew every lyric to every one of his songs. But the one thing in common – people were there to have a good time with the people they love while listening to Benito's voice.

"During the pandemic, I was going through a lot," said Lupe Calvillo, a fan. She was going through some mental health issues and his music helped her get through it.

"I love how he helps the people of Puerto Rico," she added. "I love that he's so authentic."

Bad Bunny doesn't shy away from talking and singing about issues Puerto Rico faces. His song "Apagón" on his newest album "Un Verano Sin Ti" references the power outages.

Other songs talk about issues like the treatment of women.

And what had many people talking -- During the VMA's, Bad Bunny kissed both a man and a woman during his performance of "Tití Me Preguntó."

"Bad Bunny has transformed reggaetón like no other artist has. When you think about reggaetón, it's hypermasculine, machista is embedded in its core. And Bad Bunny has come and flipped it upside down," said Dr. Nate Rodríguez, the associate director of Journalism & Media Studies at San Diego State. "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."

Rodríguez has taught a course on Selena Quintanilla at SDSU. Now, he says people can expect to see a course on Bad Bunny at SDSU in 2023.

"Bad Bunny is this global phenomenon, and he has been elevated in every single way," he said. "Men, women, children, older people, people of all sorts of different colors, people who don't even speak Spanish are singing his songs."

And that was apparent at his concert in Oakland. In between songs, Bad Bunny thanked his fans – at times taking a moment to stare into the crowd. And the Coliseum got really loud when he yelled "Dónde están los Latinos de Oakland?" or "Where are Oakland's Latinos?"

"He sings in Spanish, he talks in Spanish, he answers reporters' questions in Spanish, and that's how he connects with his fanbase, and I think that makes him authentic, and that also makes him unapologetically him," Rodríguez said.

It's also about representation. Bad Bunny at the VMA's won Artist of the Year, becoming the first non-English language act to win the award.  

"The Latino community wants to see themselves represented," Rodríguez said. "We rarely see ourselves on television, in movies, in media, especially in English-language spaces. And to see Bad Bunny win awards, perform on these different award shows that are traditionally reserved for only English-language-speaking people gives us an opportunity to see ourselves, hear ourselves." 

And that was the feeling on Wednesday night at the Oakland Coliseum. People held their flags – proud to be who they are and where they come from.

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