meta-script5 Essential Bizarrap Sessions: BZRP Music Videos With Shakira, Arcángel, Nathy Peluso & More | GRAMMY.com
5 Essential Bizarrap Sessions with Peso Pluma
Bizarrap, left, with Peso Pluma

Photo: Pipe Ordoñez

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5 Essential Bizarrap Sessions: BZRP Music Videos With Shakira, Arcángel, Nathy Peluso & More

BZRP Music Sessions are anticipated on a global scale, dropping unexpectedly every few months. After listening to Bizarrap's most recent session, an urbano track with Peso Pluma, read on for five of his most exciting releases.

GRAMMYs/Jun 2, 2023 - 02:55 pm

From a home studio in the suburbs of Buenos Aires, a young Argentine producer nicknamed Bizarrap has spent the past couple of years transforming the landscape of Latin music. Biza not only innovates the sound itself with a playful combination of trap, EDM and cinematic moods, but also the way songs are presented, consumed and dissected among his millions of social media fans.

His BZRP Music Sessions on YouTube drop unexpectedly every couple of months (he began the series in 2019, and is currently on No. 56) are followed and anticipated on a global scale. Each session features a new guest on vocals — most of them rappers. Biza provides the backing track, and the guest does the rest. The videos follow the same setup: a Spartan home studio, with Biza in the producer’s chair, arms flailing, while the guests stand in front of the mic, looking directly into the cameras documenting the performance. The visual aspect is so closely associated with Bizarrap’s mystique, that the set has been duplicated in every minute detail whenever the sessions take place outside Argentina.

Gonzalo Julián Conde will be 25 in August, and Time magazine recently selected him as one of its Next Generation Leaders. He continues to stir things up on session No. 55: his first foray outside the urbano genre, a música mexicana track with emerging star Peso Pluma. Recently, he collaborated with GRAMMY nominee Rauw Ajeandro for session No. 56.

Here are five key sessions from the past four years that sum up the Bizarrap phenomenon. 

Session No. 36: Nathy Peluso (2020)

The first session to generate more than 300 million YouTube views, Bizarrap’s collaboration with fellow Argentine Nathy Peluso found the producer face to face with an artist as formidable as she is multi-faceted. Based in Spain, Peluso began her career as a rapper and evolved into an eclectic singer/songwriter who can ignite the dance floor with her authentic salsa jams, then move you to the core with an organic ballad about missing Buenos Aires. 

Peluso’s hip-hop roots are deep, and this session brims with her demented sense of humor, the use of syllables as a powerful rhythmic device, and her subtly menacing, rapper fatale persona. Biza spices up the track with hypnotic electro beats, then autotunes the chorus to brilliant effect. 

Session No. 53: Shakira (2023)

In strict musical terms, Biza’s tandem with Colombian diva Shakira treads similar ground than some of his previous sessions. But this is much more than just a song. A vitriolic revenge fest against Shakira’s former husband — soccer star Gerard Piqué — the track reveals the singer as a vulnerable, yet empowered human being. It connected with the zeitgeist of 2023 and became a cultural phenomenon. 

Followers of Shakira’s personal life have savored the many subtle and not-so-subtle digs and references, some of which are notoriously mordant (the way in which she sings "clara-mente" in reference to Clara, Piqué’s current girlfriend, is delightful).

Session No. 51: Villano Antillano (2022)

In interviews, Bizarrap has affirmed his intention to never censor guests in any way — they can do and say whatever they please. Inviting transfeminist Puerto Rican rapper Villano Antillano was a nod to inclusivity, and gave Villano a much deserved global platform for her dazzling skills. 

Her rhymes are brilliant, quoting Rihanna, literary vampires, the cast of Friends and Chilean poet Gabriela Mistral. Biza is in high form, peppering the backing track with flashy touches of EDM and screeching the beat to a halt in the bridge. Don’t miss the colorful portable fan that appears in Villano’s right hand at the 2:11 mark — her playful smile and eye batting are priceless.

Session No. 54: Arcángel (2023)

Strangely enough, Biza’s collaboration with iconic rapper Arcángel boasts a relatively anemic (for Biza, anyway) 75 million views. A pity, because it’s one of the wittiest Latin tracks of the decade. 

The pair had already collaborated with Argentine trapero Duki on "Bottas," a vertigo-inducing track off Arcángel’s 2022 album Sr. Santos. The rapper makes a hilarious reference to that previous outing, and imitates Biza’s South American accent. The rhymes are inventive throughout, with nods to pot, Argentine soccer players, Roman gladiators and something about straightening out the Tower of Pisa. 

Biza’s ominous, sustained synth notes complement the MC’s high-pitched flow, and Arcángel hams it up for the camera.

Session No. 39: Snow Tha Product (2021)

If there’s one session that showcases Biza’s framework as a space where artists can let their virtuoso tendencies soar, this is it. Born in San Jose, California, Mexican American rapper Snow Tha Product was already known in the Latin hip-hop community for her formidable flow. Biza’s session allowed her to elevate her skills to an almost surreal level. 

Everything here is calibrated to perfection, from Snow’s speed, Spanglish rimas and stage presence to the producer’s raw bass lines and EDM climax. Following the track’s viral success — 220 million views and counting — the rapper posted a pinned message on Biza’s YouTube page expressing her amazement and gratitude.

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Nathy Peluso Talks 'Grasa,' The Mob & More
Nathy Peluso

Photo: Kito Muñoz

interview

Nathy Peluso Is 'Grasa': How Hard-Earned Lessons, The Mafia & A Lost Album Led To Her Most Vulnerable Work

Both honest and brash, Nathy Peluso's first album in four years is the culmination of therapy and deep musical work. "It’s important to bring that energy to the music, like, rude, strong, dangerous," she says.

GRAMMYs/May 24, 2024 - 04:45 pm

Those who follow underground Spanish music have known the name Nathy Peluso for a while, but in 2020 the Argentine-Spanish artist came to the attention of a broader audience. That year,  the rapper and singer released her official debut album Calambre, which won a Latin GRAMMY for Best Alternative Album and received a GRAMMY nomination for Best Latin Rock or Alternative Album in 2021. 

Four years later, Peluso is back with Grasa [Grease]. Out May 24, the 16 track follow-up is simultaneously bolder, more vulnerable and more revealing than its predecessor, crystalizing the artist's iconoclastic and often cinema-inspired vision.

At Legacy Records, a hotspot for haute Mediterranean fare in Manhattan's Hudson Yards neighborhood, Nathy is draped in an oversized blazer and pants. She looks like a relaxed, elegant CEO and the style becomes her, especially as she balances it with ultra-feminine touches. Today, its long nails tipped in fire-engine red.

Her fashion choices are as pointed as her manicure, on and off stage. In the recent video for "Aprender a Amar," she raps ferociously into a mirror, sharply dressed in a pin-stripe tie, a jacket with exaggerated shoulders, and delicate black lace gloves. These sartorial choices ask, Why settle for a mob-wife aesthetic when you can be a don yourself?

Both visually and aurally, Nathy Peluso is part cinematic diva and part underworld kingpin, with a fair amount of Missy Elliott swagger. Her tough, independent persona was on full display on her now-multimillion streamed 2020 Bizarrap session, which smoldered and crackled with her bombast. It was fully formed on "Business Woman," from Calambre, and returned with a roar on her 2021 single "Mafiosa," a high drama salsa track.  

Her powerful energy is pure hip-hop in steel-toe Timbs, but she performs with the generous spirit of a burgeoning pop star ministering to a big house of fans. On Grasa, Nathy Peluso brings humanity to her braggadocio. This doesn’t stop her from picking up the mafia saga where she left off on Calambre. The opening track is titled "Corleone." 

Ahead of the release of her first album in four years, Nathy Peluso spoke with GRAMMY.com about overcoming creative burnout, taking inspiration from mob movies, and the true meaning of "grasa."

This album is more personal than your previous releases. What led you to open up more lyrically?

I think it just happened because I am growing. I am learning and I need to tell my truth. The way for me to do that is music. It’s been four years, but, when the moment came, I was ready.

Speaking of four years ago, 2020 was a very big year for you. A lot happened. What are your most vivid memories from that time?

Calambre was the moment. It was really special for me. Winning the GRAMMY was the moment, and then touring with that album was an amazing learning experience for me. I grew up on the stage. 

I grew up as a woman, as an artist, as a performer, maybe as a lover too. You are traveling around the world with so much pressure. Physically, it was a difficult show. I was alone on stage, with my musicians, but no dancers. It was a challenge. 

I grew up in so many ways, but when I finished that tour I was broken. My soul was broken. I was empty. I started looking for myself. It was very tough. 

It sounds like you were experiencing creative burnout.

Yes, my brain was broken, but it was necessary in order to start again. I did an album then, but I decided not to go with that album and to start again. So, it was a very long path. 

You wrote a whole album and then discarded it? What wasn’t working about it?

It was working, but it wasn’t the feelings I wanted to share and the music I wanted to share. Sometimes there are projects whose purpose is just to learn from. It was a process of learning for me. That was a very special moment. 

You start feeling like a failure, but no. It was necessary to go through that to get to Grasa. The things I learned were exactly the things I needed to know to then make this music. 

So, how did you overcome this period of burnout and get to the point where you were feeling creative again?

A lot of therapy. A lot of working on my s— and confronting it.

Is there one song on Grasa that is more intense to perform, or more emotional for you than the others?

"Envidia" is talking real s—. Things happen around you and you need to know who you are and what your intention is. You have to be focused on what you want to bring to the world and not care about anything besides your craft. People are going to talk. Things are going to be crazy. You’ve got to know your choice, your path.

Can you tell me about the song "Corleone"? How do gangster movies inspire you?

I have a song called "Mafiosa." It’s a character I love to perform and I see myself in that character. It’s relatable. The mafia have codes that represent me — not everything [laughs] — but, you know, the family, the legacy, working hard, respect. That kind of feeling in music, in cinema, is what I was looking for. I love the aesthetic. I love Tarantino. I love Tony Montana, the character. On stage, I feel like him sometimes. 

I love for a woman to be that type of character. I think it’s interesting. Usually, those kinds of feelings in music or cinema are represented by men. It’s always that way in salsa. If you look at Celia or Gloria, they were always more romantic. Maybe La Lupe was dangerous. For me, it’s important to bring that energy to the music, like, rude, strong, dangerous. Be careful, bitch!

What were some of your specific musical influences while working on this album?

Always folklore and roots, salsa and bolero, but then I was paying attention to Kendrick Lamar and Kanye West. They are a big inspiration for me. 

How do you bridge the gap, or find the connections among your different influences?

I don’t even know. I just do music, really. I go to the studio and I start singing. I just feel it.  I go to the studio, and suddenly I want to sing, and I want to cry. And then another day, I feel powerful and I want drama and aggressive stuff. It’s very honest. The starting point is always the way I feel.

Is it important to you to make music that empowers other women?

Yes. For sure. But it wasn’t ever a strategy, like, "I want to do music for empowering women." I just did my music without direction. Then I discovered people were feeling the power and using it. I feel inspired by that, but it wasn’t the point. 

What does the word "grasa" mean to you?

I chose that word because it’s the strongest word. It’s dirty. It’s funky. But it’s a word that, at least in Spanish, has a lot of meanings. So, I want people to choose the meaning. After listening to the album, you can choose the meaning and maybe redefine it with the album.

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DJ Deorro performs  during the Mextour Live Concert at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles in 2023
DJ Deorro performs on stage during the Mextour Live Concert at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on December 14, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Omar Vega/Getty Images)

Photo: Omar Vega/Getty Images

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8 Essential Latin Electronic Releases: Songs And Albums From Bizarrap, Arca & More

Electronic sounds can be heard throughout Latin music and will be recognized in a new Field and Category at the 2024 Latin GRAMMYs. In honor of the new Best Latin Electronic Music Performance award, read on for eight Latin electronic music essentials.

GRAMMYs/May 2, 2024 - 01:22 pm

Electronic music is embedded within the diverse world of Latin music and, for the first time, will be recognized in a new Field and Category at the 2024 Latin GRAMMYs. Within that field, the award for Best Latin Electronic Music Performance was created to shine a light on DJs, producers, and artists blending proudly blending electronic music with the sounds of their cultures.

Electronic music embodies various subgenres like house music, techno, trance, electronica, and many others rooted that have been popularized by DJs and producers. Latin artists have long enriched those subgenres: Mexico's Belanova globalized the electro-pop wave, while Bomba Estéreo blended cumbia with electronica in Colombia. 

The explosion of EDM in the 2010s also allowed the careers of Latinx DJs to flourish. Mexican American DJ Deorro has showcased both cultures during sets at music festivals like EDC, Coachella, Tomorrowland, and more. Arca's music pushes the boundaries of electronic music through a Venezuelan and Latin American lens. More recently, Colombian producer Víctor Cárdenas bridged the gap between EDM and reggaeton with the global hit "Pepas" by Farruko. Since then, electronic music has seeped through the work of Latin hit-makers like Tainy, Caleb Calloway, Bizarrap and Diego Raposo. "Pepas" and many of Bizarrap's music sessions crossed over onto Billboard's Hot Dance/Electronic Songs.

"That’s something that’s very big for us," Deorro tells GRAMMY.com about the new category. "How beautiful that this is happening, because it shows that what we’re doing is working, we’re breaking down doors, and we’re creating more opportunities for artists like us in the future." 

In honor of the Latin Recording Academy's new Field and Category, here are eight must-hear Latin electronic music essentials.

Belanova - Cocktail (2003)

Belanova revolutionized the Latin music space with their 2003 debut album Cocktail, an atmospheric LP that seamlessly blends Latin pop with electronic music. In the dreamy deep house of "Tu Ojos," singer Denisse Guerrero sang about getting lost in her lover's eyes. The trippy techno of "Barco De Papel" was reminiscent of the music from Madonna's Ray of Light album. Electronic music on the ambient level wasn’t common in Latin music until Belenova changed the game in Mexico, which later reverberated into the rest of Latin America and the U.S. 

The trio — which includes guitarist Ricardo Arreol and keyboardist Edgar Huerta — later delved into electro-pop on 2007's Fantasía Pop, which won a Latin GRAMMY for Best Pop Album by a Group or Duo the following year. 

Arca - Kick I-II (2020)

Venezuelan producer/artist Arca is a pioneer in the Latin electronic music space. Arca first began producing her experimental electronica in Spanish with her 2017 self-titled album.

Arca then masterfully mixed the diverse sounds of Latin America and beyond with EDM throughout her Kick album series. 

For Kick I, she combined Venezuelan gaita music and reggaeton with a cyberpunk edge in "KLK" featuring Spanish pop star Rosalía. Arca then blended electronica with neo-perreo on Kick II's "Prada" and "Rakata." Both albums garnered Arca GRAMMY and Latin GRAMMY nominations. 

As a trans and non-binary artist, she is also breaking boundaries for the LGBTQ+ community in the genre. Arca is just not creating more space for queer artists in Latin music, but also in EDM at large by embracing the totality of herself in song.  

Bomba Estéreo - Deja (2021)

Bomba Estéreo, which is comprised of core members Simón Mejía and Liliana "Li" Saumet, has masterfully melded the music of Colombia’s Caribbean coast with electronic music. Since breaking out in 2008 with their sophomore album, the group has often reimagined the African and Indigenous rhythms of their country like cumbia through dance music. Bomba Estéreo’s folkloric approach to EDM has led to collaborations with Bad Bunny, Tainy, and Sofi Tukker.    

In 2021, Bomba Estéreo released its most ambitious album Deja, which garnered a GRAMMY and Latin GRAMMY nominations. The title track put a funky spin on the band's signature electro-tropical sound. House music collided with the Afro-Colombian rhythms of champeta in "Conexión Total" featuring Nigerian singer Yemi Alade. Their album that was based on the four classical elements was a breath of fresh air in the Latin music scene. 

Bizarrap - "BZRP Music Sessions #52" (2022)

Argentine producer Bizarrap launched the BZRP Music Sessions on YouTube in 2018, first remaining behind the console for freestyle rapping sessions with local acts. The sessions quickly went viral, and have featured increasingly larger names in music.

Over the past five years, Bizarrap worked elements of electronic music into his hip-hop productions. In 2022, he fully delved into EDM with his global hit "BZRP Music Sessions #52" featuring Spanish singer Quevedo. The traptronica banger peaked at No. 4 on Billboard's Hot Dance/Electronic Songs and earned Bizarrap his first Latin GRAMMY Award. 

Since then, his music sessions have become a global event. Bizarrap later infused electro-pop with a trap breakdown in "BZRP Music Sessions #53" with Shakira, which garnered him two more Latin GRAMMY awards. 

Javiera Mena - Nocturna (2022)

Javiera Mena first debuted as an indie act in 2006 with Esquemas Juveniles. With that freedom as a producer and artist, the Chilean star pushed Latin music into the electronic space with her 2010 album Mena

She fully immersed herself into Latin electronica on her latest album, 2022's Nocturna — an album filled with nighttime club bangers that invite everyone to dance with her. Mena also proudly sings about being part of the LGBTQ+ community in the alluring "La Isla de Lesbos" and the fierce house music of "Diva" featuring Chico Blanco. Considering the influence of queer artists in the formation of electronic genres like house, it’s refreshing to see an artist like Mena remind people of those roots and bring that into Latin music.  

Deorro - Orro (2022)

Mexican American producer Deorro has established himself as one of the world's top DJs, and is known for mixing both of his cultures into his music festival sets. Even before the música mexicana explosion last year, he was one of the first mainstream EDM acts to bring the genre to music festivals around the world through his songs and remixes.   

With his debut album, 2022's Orro, Deorro fully bridged música mexicana with house music. He collaborated with Latin acts like Mexico's Los Tucanes De Tijuana and Maffio in "Yo Las Pongo," which blended the band's norteño sound with EDM. Deorro also explored cumbia with deep house in the sweeping "Dime" featuring Los Ángeles Azules and Lauri Garcia. In his recent sets, he is spinning a fiery remix of "Ella Baila Sola" by Eslabon Armado and Peso Pluma

Sinego - Alterego (2023)

Sinego first broke through in 2019 thanks to his house bolero sound like in "Verte Triste," which put a refreshing spin on an age-old Cuban genre. With traditional genres within the Latin diaspora often falling to the wayside as the years go on, he is reintroducing them to new audiences through EDM reimaginings.   

For his debut album, 2023's Alterego, the Colombian producer pushed his electronic music to another level. Sinego traveled to different Latin American countries and Spain to record with local musicians, reimagining genres like cumbia, tango, and mambo through Sinego's EDM lens. With the sultry "Mala," he blended Venezuela's variation of calypso with house music. He also gave Brazilian samba a house music makeover in "Boa Noite" featuring Tonina. 

Diego Raposo - Yo No Era Así Pero De Ahora En Adelante Sí (2023)

Dominican producer Diego Raposo has helped Latin acts like Danny Ocean, Blue Rojo, and Letón Pé embrace elements of electronic music. In 2018, Raposo released his debut album Caribe Express, which demonstrated his knack for mixing the sounds of the Caribbean with EDM. 

Raposo took that inventive mix into overdrive with last year's Yo No Era Así Pero De Ahora En Adelante Sí. The otherworldly "Si Supieras" featuring Okeiflou blended house music with reggaeton, while "Al Contrario" with Akrilla aggressively mixes drum 'n 'bass with dembow. Rapaso also channels Dance Dance Revolution-esque electronica in the spellbinding "Quédate" with Kablito. 

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Kenia Os performs in 2024
Kenia Os performs during the Axe Ceremonia music festival 2024 in Mexico

Photo: Ismael Rosas/Eyepix Group/LightRocket via Getty Images

interview

Kenia Os Unveils Her 'Pink Aura': How The Mexican Pop Star Let Her Feminine Energy Shine

On her new album, Kenia Os leaned into a variety of influences — from reggaeton Mexa to trap. The Latin GRAMMY nominee discusses collaborating with Álvaro Díaz, Villano Antillano and others, and letting her inner self shine.

GRAMMYs/Apr 29, 2024 - 05:31 pm

Contemporary music is filled with artists who have transitioned from social media stardom to serious streams and even Music's Biggest Night. Kenia Os is proof of this trajectory: After building a massive following on YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok, she established as one of Mexico's top pop stars. 

Kenia Os' ability to pivot successfully is also apparent in her music. Her 2022 debut album Cambios de Luna leaned into trap and reggaeton, while follow-up K23 fully embraced Latin pop with elements of EDM. Her "Universo K23" netted Kenia Os her first Latin GRAMMY nomination for Best Long Form Music Video. 

On her latest album, Pink Aura, the 24-year-old seamlessly blends her worlds of Latin pop and urbano music. "I feel very comfortable making pop," Kenia Os tells GRAMMY.com.  I also love Latin urban music and reggaeton, especially reggaeton Mexa that's blowing up…I wanted to make music in that style as well." 

Pink Aura sees Kenia pushing pop into new territory — with the help of some friends. Puerto Rican singer Álvaro Díaz is featured on the futuristic, drum 'n' bass-infused "Bobo," while Puerto Rican trans rapper Villano Antillano appears on the euphoric "VIP." Argentina's La Joaqui helps Kenia Os meld reggaeton with cumbia on the freaky bop "Kitty." Reggaeton Mexa, or Mexican reggaeton, artists Yeri Mua and Ghetto Kids join Kenia for the sensual banger "Mamita Rica." Elsewhere, Os also links up with another influencer-turned-singer Bella Poarch for the fierce "F* OFF."

In an interview with GRAMMY.com, Kenia Os opens up about overcoming the stigma against artists coming from social media and the empowering meaning behind her Pink Aura album. 

This interview has been edited for clarity.

How would you describe the experience of making the jump from YouTube and social media to becoming a pop star?

It's been incredible. It's been an adventure that I've been on for three or more years. 

At the start, and even now, it's still been a bit difficult to get respect from the music industry. Since day one when I started making music, I've always taken this very seriously, making great music with good producers and my record label. I feel very confident about this new album that we've put out and I feel fulfilled as an artist.  

As someone who did come from social media, what did your Latin GRAMMY nomination mean to you last year?

That day I cried all day. I couldn't believe it. I was very happy. It made me think about all the effort I’ve put in these past few years, and those times I was tired in the studio and thought about quitting. There were times I told myself, I don’t want to keep doing this because it’s very tiring to prove [to people] the artist that I am. I felt like everything was worth it. The hard work that me and my team have put into this over the years has been worth it.  

An artist that has a similar career trajectory to you concerning social media is Bella Poarch. I can imagine that you probably bonded well with her while collaborating on the song "F* OFF."

Working with Bella was an incredible experience. Sometimes when you do collaborations, there's artists that are very much artists. You know what I mean? They love music, but they don't know a lot about navigating social media or what works in that space. 

With Bella, what happened was that we could record TikTok videos and create content for social media. It was very natural and genuine. We shared ideas with each other like, "We'll make TikTok videos this way or you go here and I go there." [Laughs.] It was very genuine how we developed the content for marketing our collaboration. It was very beautiful. It's a very different experience to work with someone who also understands social media.

Tell me about the title of this new album — is there a story behind it?

My fans have asked me, "Kenia, why do you have everything pink? You have said before that you hated the color pink." It's not that I hated pink, but I had always said I didn't want pink in the background of my interviews, in my outfits, or anything. 

The other day I was with my mom, looking at photos from when I was a little girl, and I saw everything in my room was pink. I was thinking about when I started fighting this color. I realized I started to hold back that feminine energy to be able to face the industry, to be the person in charge of my family, and keep up that livelihood. For me, this album was forgiving that feminine energy, embracing it, and healing myself, and above all, letting it shine. 

You’re bridging the gap between Latin urban sounds and pure Latin pop on this album. Was that what you hoped to accomplish with that kind of fusion?

I feel very comfortable making pop. I love pop and it's the genre I enjoy the most. Every time I'm in the studio, I'm writing with my co-writers and producers, and we always make pop. 

I also love Latin urban music and reggaeton, especially reggaeton Mexa that's blowing up. We have artists in that scene who are becoming very big. I feel very proud and I wanted to make music in that style as well because I like going to the clubs and I like to hear myself within that genre. 

You collaborated with one of the top female artists in reggaeton Mexa, Yeri Mua, in "Mamita Rica." How would you describe the experience of working with her?

That was very beautiful. We went to the studio together and there was her whole team. There were her co-writers. 

We were all surprised because you would think that she puts effects on her voice, but no, that's how she really sounds. As we say, she sounds very sexy and makes noises like meowing. [Laughs]. It was very fun! It felt very great to work with her. 

All the reggaeton Mexa that's coming up in Mexico makes me so happy. I believe it was time with Mexico making more noise globally through música mexicana, reggaeton, and pop, and above all, with a sound that's very unique to us. 

You’ve always supported the LGBTQIA+ community throughout your career. On this album, you collaborated with Villano Antillano, who is breaking down barriers for queer artists in Latin music. How did the song "VIP" with Antillano come together?

It's very beautiful to know that I have a lot of fans in the LGBTQIA+ community and that they identify with my music and feel supported by me. It's very important for me to be someone who can speak up for them; it's important for me to support them as well and spread their message through my music, what I say, and with what I do. I stand with them and I'll support them in any way that I can.

Villana is one of my favorite artists. I love everything that she does. When she jumped on this track and we heard it, I almost wanted to cry. The song was perfect for her. When I met her, it was incredible because we connected a lot as friends. We were laughing the whole time while making the music video. We have the same ways of saying things. I love her so much. I loved getting to know her and I got a great friendship out of this collaboration.  

What do you want people to take away from the 'Pink Aura'?

I was telling my girlfriends the other day that this album is perfect for when you're getting ready [for a night out]. When you're in your room getting ready and putting on creams, perfume, and makeup. Then you have a little drink before going out to party. 

This was made so people can enjoy it and connect with it in their room, in their cars, and in the clubs. It was made with a lot of love and the most pink side of myself and feminine energy that I hope resonates with girls and boys too. I want to heal that part of us that we sometimes hide or put to the side in order to face certain situations in life. 

What do you want to accomplish next with your music?

I want to go global. I love my country and I love that my concerts in Mexico are always very full. The people of Mexico love me a lot, but I want to take my music to other countries. I want to be an artist that is internationally known. 

I love pop and I see myself doing pop all my life, but I want to experiment with more genres. I would love to do another reggaeton song and then a corrido tumbado song with guitars. Above all, I want to hold the flag of my country high up wherever I go.

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Shakira attends the Fendi Couture Fall/Winter 2023/2024 show in Paris, France.
Shakira attends the Fendi Couture Fall/Winter 2023/2024 show in Paris.

Photo: Pietro S. D'Aprano/Getty Images for Fendi

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Shakira's Road To 'Las Mujeres Ya No Lloran': How Overcoming A Breakup Opened A New Chapter In Her Artistry

Shakira's first album in seven years is out March 22, and very much of the moment with glossy Latin pop, reggaeton, bachata and corrido. The GRAMMY winner's path to this new chapter was long, filled with professional changes and heartbreak.

GRAMMYs/Mar 22, 2024 - 01:08 pm

When Shakira’s "Bzrp Music Sessions, Vol. 53" was released in January of 2023; its success seemed like a freak incident, explainable as a perfect but isolated storm. 

Their virulently catchy track — which happens to spill scalding tea on her breakup with retired Spanish soccer player Gerard Piqué —  set streaming records and took home a Latin GRAMMY for Song Of The Year. Today, the song's success looks more like the first crashing wave of a massive comeback for Shakira

The three-time GRAMMY winner followed her Bzrp Session with another hit single, "TQG," collaborating with Karol G. That song went to No. 1 on the Billboard Global 200, and the duo cleaned up at the Latin GRAMMYs. 

In hindsight, all of this was a mere preamble to the announcement of Shakira's Las Mujeres Ya No Lloran (Women Don't Cry Anymore), due March 22. The album will be her first in seven years, but the sound is very much of the moment, leaning into a high-gloss urban Latin pop sound that delves in reggaeton, bachata and corrido. 

The album is no comeback. With a star as big as Shakira — one who performed at the Super Bowl in 2020 and had her own exhibit at the GRAMMY Museum — it's hard to make the case that she ever left the public eye. Yet the Colombian superstar has put out only a trickle of singles since 2017, when she released her GRAMMY-winning album El Dorado. Prior to the BZRP session, her last major hits were in 2016 with "La Bicicleta," a collaboration with Carlos Vives, and "Chantaje," featuring Maluma, which went to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Latin Songs. 

It’s impossible to talk about this period of retreat, or her new album, without talking about the personal upheavals Shakira has gone through in recent years. In June of 2022, Shakira and Gerard Piqué, with whom she has two sons, publicly announced the end of their 11 year relationship. Starting with 2022’s "Monotonía," featuring Ozuna, nearly every song she has released  since then deals directly with the split and the emotional turmoil she has felt because of it. 

The singer and songwriter herself is not shying away from the fact that her music has been a therapeutic outlet. "I feel like in this moment of my life, which is probably one of the most difficult, darkest hours of my life, music has brought light," she told Elle in 2022. 

Case in point: her Bizarrap session. "Someone should have taken my photo the day I worked on the 'Bizarrap Session 53,' a before and after. Because I went into the studio one way and left in a completely different way," Shakira told Mexican television channel Televisa. "He gave me this space, this opportunity to let it out and it really was a huge release, necessary for my own healing, for my own recovery process."


That feeling of catharsis continued in her work on Las Mujeres. "Making this body of work has been an alchemical process. While writing each song I was rebuilding myself. While singing them, my tears transformed into diamonds, and my vulnerability into strength," the artist said in a statement on Instagram.

Shakira is styling the album as a testament to resilience in the face of adversity, tapping into an understanding that her experiences have a broad resonance. While accepting Billboard’s 2023 Woman Of The Year award, Shakira discussed her "year of seismic change."

"I've felt more than ever — and very personally — what it is to be a woman," she said. "It's been a year where I've realized we women are stronger than we think, braver than we believed, more independent than we were taught to be." 

Indeed, with strength and bravery, Shakira proceeded to channel her individual hurt into a message of universal empowerment. Ahead of her album release, she’s even more explicit about the details of her separation and the impact the relationship had on her career. "For a long time I put my career on hold, to be next to Gerard, so he could play football. There was a lot of sacrifice for love," recently told The Sunday Times.

As she told Billboard for her 2023 cover story, settling down in Barcelona with Piqué and their two children, far from music industry centers, made it difficult for her to work. "It was complicated logistically to get a collaborator there. I had to wait for agendas to coincide or for someone to deign to come," she explained. 

Shakira has since relocated to Miami, a location that played a major role in making her new album possible.

One of the hallmarks of a true pop star is the ability to evolve with the culture without losing their identity. Over decades, and with each release, Shakira has broken a barrier or risen above an obstacle to succeed beyond expectations – whether it’s leading the first Spanish-language broadcast on MTV with her 2000 "Unplugged" concert, or learning English to write her own crossover pop debut. Each move has felt authentic.

It is not an easy task, but Shakira accomplishes this alchemy beautifully every few album cycles, starting with her debut as an alt-leaning, brunette singer/songwriter in the mid '90s. At the turn of the millennium, she made the jump to international fame with a cascade of golden curls and Laundry Service, the English-language album that capitalized on the first wave of crossover Latin pop. She closed out the decade in a whirl of high-gloss dance pop with the Pharell produced She Wolf. Along the way, there was one platinum selling album after another and the No. 1 hit "Hips Don’t Lie," among several Top 10 singles, setting the stage for her to blaze through much of the 2010s. 

Shakira is well-aware of how hard she has had to work even after crossover success. 

In 2019, she told Billboard, "This whole new world had opened up to me, and with it came so many great opportunities, but I continued to pursue impossible goals such as making a song like 'Hips Don’t Lie,' for example—that had a Colombian cumbia and a mention of Barranquilla in the middle of it—play on American radio. I remember I said to [then Sony Music Chairman] Donny Ienner, ‘You have to trust me on this one. This is going to happen, this song is going to blow up.’" 

With El Dorado, she caught the second wave of Latin pop crossover, the one tipped off by Luis Fonsi’s now-infamous 2017 earworm "Despacito." El Dorado, is one of Shakira’s more Latin leaning albums in the long history of her bicultural and bilingual music career. The songs are sung largely in Spanish and her choice of features on the album are almost entirely Latin pop and reggaeton artists: Maluma, Nicky Jam, Prince Royce and Carlos Vives. The album's May 2017 release coincided with a rising global interest in reggaeton.

Shakira wasn’t following a trend; she was just in touch with the moment as usual. She released "Chantaje" months before "Despacito," and "Bicicleta," her song with Carlos Vives, which combines elements of reggaeton and vallenato, came out in 2016. 

With the continued mainstream global success of Latin artists, Shakira may no longer see a need to release an English-language album for every album in her mother tongue. Las Mujeres Ya No Lloran breaks with tradition in that it is her second Spanish-language album in a row. It's also loaded with features from the world of Latin music, including Ozuna, Rauw Alejandro, Manuel Turizo, and Karol G. The moment could not be better for an album that explores forward looking pop reggaeton, assisted by some of the brightest young stars in the genre.

If the past is any indicator, this era is going to be another step up for the artist. Beyond the album release, Shakira is teasing another tour. As she told Billboard, "I think this will be the tour of my life. I’m very excited. Just think, I had my foot on the brakes. Now I’m pressing on the accelerator­ — hard."

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