Bad Bunny sued by ex-girlfriend for $40m after sampling voice memo in 2022's most successful album

Bad bunny
(Image credit: Getty)

Bad Bunny's Un Verano Sin Ti was a runaway success: named by music data firm Luminate as the United States' most popular album in 2022, it racked up 3.4 million equivalent album units in sales and earned the artist a Grammy Award for Best Música Urbana Album.

Those familiar with the release might recall a female voice saying the words "Bad Bunny, baby" during the intro to "Dos Mil 16". What listeners may not have realized, though, is that this is the voice of Bad Bunny's ex-girlfriend Carliz De La Cruz Hernández, recorded in a voice memo on her phone.

De La Cruz alleges that Bad Bunny and his team used the sample and the phrase it contains, which she claims to have come up with, without her permission, and is seeking $40 million as compensation. The sample was also used in the 2016 single "Pa Ti". 

In a translation of the lawsuit shared by Pitchfork, De La Cruz's lawyers claim that "thousands of people have commented directly on Carliz’s social media networks, as well as every time she goes to a public place, about ‘Bad Bunny, baby.’ This has caused, and currently causes, De La Cruz to feel worried, anguished, intimidated, overwhelmed and anxious."

"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 translation continues. "Likewise, the publication of the song "Dos Mil 16" without the consent of Carliz was carried out intentionally, in bad faith and for profit."

Bad Bunny and De La Cruz began their relationship in 2011, before De La Cruz became involved in the logistical side of the artist's career. The lawsuit claims that De La Cruz came up with the phrase "Bad Bunny, baby" in 2015, and Bad Bunny later asked De La Cruz to record herself saying it. The couple then broke up in 2017.

A few months before the release of Un Verano Sin Ti, Bad Bunny's representatives allegedly contacted De La Cruz to offer her $2000 in exchange for authorized usage of the recording. Though she rejected their offer, the sample was still incorporated into "Dos Mil 16".

This isn't Bad Bunny's first brush with copyright infringement: earlier this year, the artist was accused of "appropriating" Afrobeats star Joeboy's "Empty My Pocket" in "Enséñame a Bailar", another song from Un Verano Sin Ti. 

Revisit our explainer on the complexities of sampling, interpolation and copyright.

Matt Mullen
Tech Editor

I'm the Tech Editor for MusicRadar, working across everything from artist interviews to product news to tech tutorials. I love electronic music and I'm endlessly fascinated by the tools we use to make it. When I'm not behind my laptop keyboard, you'll find me behind a MIDI keyboard, carefully crafting the beginnings of another project that I'll ultimately abandon to the creative graveyard that is my overstuffed hard drive.

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