Bad Gyal, whose real name is Alba Farelo, is a Spanish artist who sings and raps. Despite her name, she is not from Jamaica, but her music incorporates elements of Puerto Rican reggaeton and Jamaican dancehall. In 2016, she gained recognition for her cover of Rihanna’s song “Work” in Catalan (Pai). Since then, she has collaborated with artists from the Caribbean and Latin America. Her recent collaboration with female rappers Young Miko and Tokischa, “Chulo Pt 2,” showcases her sexually charged party music, which can either be boldly carefree or tinged with a hint of sadness at its best.
Bad Gyal’s success can be attributed to two factors: the growing popularity of reggaeton outside of Puerto Rico and the increasing mainstream acceptance of non-English pop music. Despite some songs on her debut album already being available, La Joia (The Jewel) is still a noteworthy release. Of the newer tracks, Bad Gyal’s collaboration with Tommy Lee Sparta, La Que No Se Mueve, stands out for its directness and Auto-Tune-heavy sound. Another standout track, Así Soy, features Spanish-Moroccan rapper Morad and showcases Bad Gyal’s connection to her cultural roots. There is debate about whether artists from Spain, a former colonial power, can appropriate the sound of marginalized communities in the global south, or if a fun Latin song is simply that regardless of who performs it.