Pop Culture

Bad Bunny sued for $40M by ex-girlfriend over song sample

Fans are already familiar with the artist’s breathy tagline, “Bad Bunny, baby” — but the Puerto Rican rapper is now being sued for at least US$40 million by his ex-girlfriend, who claims he used the recording of her voice without permission.

Carliz De La Cruz Hernández said she recorded the audio for Bad Bunny, whose real name is Benito Martínez Ocasio, before he skyrocketed to international fame, as per a new lawsuit filed in a Puerto Rico court. She alleged she invented the phrase.

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The lawsuit, which was first reported by the Puerto Rico news website NotiCel, claimed the unauthorized recording is used in the 29-year-old singer’s songs, Pa Ti from 2017 and Dos Mil 16, which is featured on the Grammy-winning album Un Verano Sin Ti. The tracks have been streamed on Spotify at least 235 million times each.

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As per the lawsuit, De La Cruz claimed her “Bad Bunny, baby” audio has been used for numerous promotions, worldwide concerts, television, radio and social appearances.

Due to her “distinguishable voice,” De La Cruz said she’s been barraged with messages and comments about the unauthorized recording.

“Since then, thousands of people have commented directly on Carliz’s social media networks, as well as every time she goes to a public place, about the ‘Bad Bunny, baby.’ This has caused, and currently causes, that De La Cruz feels worried, anguished, intimidated, overwhelmed and anxious,” reads the lawsuit.

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De La Cruz is also suing Martínez’s manager, Noah Kamil Assad Byrne.

Neither Martínez nor Assad has commented publicly on the lawsuit.

In the legal filing, De La Cruz claimed a representative for the reggaetón singer contacted her in May 2022, shortly before Un Verano Sin Ti was released. She said the representative offered her $2,000 for the voice recording. At this point, the “Bad Bunny, baby,” audio had already been used in 2017’s Pa Ti. 

De La Cruz allegedly declined the payment on the grounds that she was apparently not comfortable with her voice being featured. She said the song was published anyway without her consent.

“Since de la Cruz made it clear that she did not consent to its use, its publication constituted an act of gross negligence, bad faith, and, worse still, an attack on their privacy, morals, and dignity since all parties had and still have knowledge of these facts and even so decided to be reckless and break the law,” the filing reads.

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The lawsuit outlines the relationship between De La Cruz and Martínez, who apparently started dating in 2011, before he was signed to the label Rimas Entertainment. At the time, De La Cruz claimed she was responsible for managing her artist boyfriend’s invoices, contracts and scheduling.

She said she recorded the “Bad Bunny, baby” audio in the bathroom of a party in 2015, as it was the quietest room available at the time.

The pair ended their relationship in 2017, a year after Martínez asked to marry De La Cruz.

In February, Martínez won a Grammy for Best Música Urbana Album for Un Verano Sin Ti. The album was also nominated for the coveted Album of the Year award but lost out to Harry’s House by Harry Styles.


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With files from The Associated Press 

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