His first solo album, non-stopthat came out in 2017, featured in-your-face sexuality, as in “Muñeco de Lego,” a Latin trap track with clever lyrics like “Mi muñeco de Lego / Bienvenido a mi juego” (“Hey, a piece of Lego , welcome to my game”).
She started dating Puerto Rican rapper Anuel AA, and their collaboration brought her into the billion-stream club. in 2018 “Culpables” (“Guilty”) and 2019’s “Confidential,” they leaned into the celebrity couple, joking about how they kept their relationship a secret. A cool, non-threatening sexiness stabilized her popularity, but she still lacked the uniqueness to stand out.
Like most Latin pop stars, Karol G has remained staunchly apolitical throughout her career. In interviews, she seemed uncomfortable with the term “feminist” and she faced a huge backlash for a blunt tweet involving a racial slur celebrate a white dog with black spots, around the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests. And she has been criticized for using the celebrity Anuel (he is an Afro Latino) who sold a bad girl image.
Despite certain aesthetic changes, she continued to face an unabashed celebrity. In 2020 she dyed her black hair acid blue, giving a bit of an alternative sheen to her normal image that quickly became a hit among her tween fans. On Instagram, she said it meant the blue era as a symbol of “peace, protection, health, understanding, power, stability, intelligence, generosity as well as sadness, longing, pain and compassion.” (What was not What does it mean?) Since then, she has chosen red hair and then green hair, a sign of her mood and musical era.
Ultimately, it was Karol G’s ability to interpret relationship breakdowns while tapping into the zeitgeist that kept her in the spotlight. Her biggest hit for the Colombian native was 2019’s “Tusa,” a regional Paisa production that references female heartbreak and inspired an entire 80s music genre known as music from you, or plancha music. (She did a duet recently with one of the queens of the genreMyriam Hernández.)
From there, her subsequent triumphant releases felt like she was on a winning lap, claiming her image on her terms; they also showed her most significant departure from middle-earth norms. In the years 2020, “Bichota,” she sings as she looks for a man who can destroy her, but crows that no one can keep up with her “surge”. “Bichota” is Puerto Rican slang, the term itself translated from English — big shot, bichot — which she recast in the femme form as “bichota.” Technically it means a drug lord, although she rephrased the term to mean an evil woman or a powerful woman. Then she faced more setbacksthis time for being a “bad” representation of Latina women.
In the latter part of her career, Karol G worked with women more than ever before. In “El Makinon,” a talented bop by Anahí, she sings about being alone since she was 16 and waiting ahead of imitators. “Gato Malo,” together with the Argentinian Nathy Peluso, she is a musical rocker of plancha, with lyrics that allow her to say goodbye to an old man.
Giraldo had wanted to collaborate with Shakira for a long time, so it felt like a full-circle moment when they worked together after Karol G’s split 2021 with Anuel. Shakira has only recorded songs with two women – Rihanna and Beyoncé – so this collaboration felt like an honor. Last year, while Shakira was in the middle of her trilogy of singles “boy, bye”, the two worked on “Te Quede Grande” titled Karol G: “I got too big for you.” (Anuel seems to have jumped into the tabloid fray that comment on it.)
Released last month, the song became Karol G’s the first world number 1 on Spotify and only the third Spanish song by a woman, after Anitta “Involve” and Shakira’s recent collaboration with Bizarrap. It has helped Mañana Será Bonito break streaming records, which is rare for women in Latin pop, who often have separate singles, but no hit albums.
And the record is much more than that one hit. On “Tus Gafitas,” she creates Alt-pop in the style of Julieta Venegas, singing romantically with old. “Gatúbela” sees her dive into early childhood club reggaeton to sing the cutest lyrics yet; on “Gucci Los Paños,” she channels heartbreak, backed by mariachi guitar.
Karol G may not have started out in the music industry as a rule-breaker, but as she becomes more popular, her singing seems to take on an increasingly vibrant and complex persona: her witty take on sex and relationships, and genuine positivity. indicated by the album title.
Most importantly, she understands and celebrates her musical heritage. When she was invited to Coachella last year, she took a minute to “pay tribute to Latina songs that were No. 1 in the world but weren’t performed on this stage.” She then covered crowd favorites such as “Como La Flor” by Selena, “La Vida es un Carnaval” by Celia Cruz and “Hips Don’t Lie” by Shakira.
“They gave me the opportunity to be here,” she said. Now she is part of that history herself. ●