Nearly every teen and young adult in America is familiar with Travis Scott’s 2018 hit SICKO MODE from his album Astroworld. It topped charts for months, on arguably the biggest album that summer. However, fewer Americans are acquainted with Bad Bunny’s song Safaera, off of his 2020 album YHLQMDLG (Yo Hago Lo Que Me Da La Gana, translating to “I Do What I Want”). In my opinion, YHLQMDLG is one of the best albums to come out of the 21st century … but that’s another article.
Both Safaera and SICKO MODE have very strong similarities, but while Travis Scott’s topped charts for the second half of 2018, Bad Bunny’s is not receiving nearly the attention that it deserves.
Both songs are approximately the same length, with SICKO MODE timing 5:13 and Safaera coming in at 4:55. Both feature other artists, SICKO MODE with Drake and Safaera with Jowell & Randy & Ñengo Flow. Both have fun music videos, though SICKO MODE’s a little weirder on the surface level for a rap video. But the biggest similarity for me is that the both have several distinct parts put together to almost act as different movements within a piece, so that the listening experience of each individual song sounds more like several short songs rather than one longer song.
SICKO MODE starts off with the instantly-recognizable iconic synth chords and melodic intro by Drake. It then transitions into a more traditional fun dance-trap song, driven by Travis Scott’s vocals, interspersed with distorted sort of functioning choruses. Later, it slows down and takes a different, darker pop-trap vibe, spearheaded primarily by Drake and his Drakeyness.
Safaera begins with a slow jam style melodic Latin trap intro. It then speeds up for a catchy chorus dance-type Carribean vibe, driven by the traditional drum rhythms, after which it moves into a slight interlude verse section before opening up into another catchy trap melody, broken up with sonic interjections to prevent monotony. This turns to Bad Bunny’s verse over different variations of the same beat. Then the beat changes keys, and finishes in a cloud of sabroso Puerto Rican style. The song is propelled by the Caribbean drums and flavors, and never gets boring.
All in all, Safaera takes every element that made SICKO MODE a success, and does it better. It is more danceable, has more flavor, and fewer annoying whiteboys playing it six months after it was popular. It was also actually written by the people performing it, unlike SICKO MODE which literally had 29 ghostwriters. Also, my Mexican mother smiles a lot more when dancing to Safaera than SICKO MODE.
So why do Travis Scott and Drake get all the recognition while Bad Bunny is forgotten about? I have a couple thoughts.
One is that Astroworld was released in the summer of 2018 when kids were out of school and relaxed enough to care more about music. Bad Bunny dropped his album YHLQMDLG on February 29 right when COVID-19 hit.
My other reason is that Bad Bunny is a Puerto Rican rapper, who makes music in Spanish and embraces Latin American culture. In the United States where nationalism is increasing every day, it becomes less and less likely for a Latino banger to top charts, no matter how hard it goes, simply by virtue of the fact that American nationalism and xenophobia is choking prospects of multicultural art to flourish.
This is why I highly encourage everyone who is reading this to educate themselves on current Latin American pop and trap stars. Go listen to Bad Bunny, Anuel AA, Karol G, and all the others, and appreciate good art even if you might not understand the words or the culture is not your own. This is on us to fix, so let’s fix it!