Peso Pluma on Why Being the First Regional Mexican Artist in Spotify’s RADAR Program Is ‘Big for the Country, the Genre and the Industry’
A medley of sounds erupts as soon as the doors of the Spotify studio swing open. All at once, trumpets climb up and down scales, guitars are tuned before being fervidly strummed, and a tololoche player’s fingers dance across the strings of an upright bass like tiny bolts of lightning, making it impossible to look away. All the while, the group of men responsible crack jokes in Spanish, an air of excitement swirling through the dimly-lit room before the Spotify RADAR shoot kicks off.
At the center of this eclectic flurry of instruments lives regional Mexican music. At the center of today’s regional Mexican music, lives Peso Pluma.
For many, the 23-year-old phenom appeared de la nada. “Ella Baila Sola,” Eslabon Armado’s smash hit with Peso Pluma, was as explosive a collaboration in the Spanish-language music space as the Hot 100-topping “Boy’s a Liar Pt. 2” was for the English market. Like drill princess Ice Spice, Peso Pluma became the de facto face of a movement overnight, much to his own surprise.
“I knew this was gonna happen, but I didn’t know at what level and what speed,” he says today. “I knew I was gonna do good in Mexico and the Spanish-speaking countries, but this went worldwide [so fast]. I’m thankful for that.”
For his early fans, Peso Pluma has been creating earworm collaborative anthems for a handful of years, through early hits like “El Belicón” alongside Raúl Vega – which went viral on social media and brought in 10 million views on YouTube in a single month – and projects including his debut set, Ah y Qué?
To date, “Ella Baila Sola” has secured a number of firsts, most notably becoming the first regional Mexican song to reach the top 10 of the Hot 100 chart — peaking at No. 5 – and the first to top Billboard‘s Streaming Songs chart in its 10-year history.
Peso Pluma and Eslabon Armado also broke a number of Spotify records, becoming the all-time most-streamed música mexicana track in one day globally and the most streamed Latin track in the U.S in one single day last month.
“Música mexicana is no longer regional – it’s global,” says Spotify head of U.S. Latin artist partnerships Eddie Santiago, noting the genre’s growth of 431% over the last five years. “It’s been incredible supporting Peso Pluma’s meteoric rise, and look forward to this next phase of his career.”
The Spotify RADAR program – dedicated to spotlighting and supporting emerging artists at all stages of their development – has provided a platform for artists across the globe, including The Kid LAROI, Zach Bryan, Doechii, Quevedo, PinkPatheress, and over 500 others since its start in in 2020.
While the effect of “Ella Baila Sola” has led to unprecedented global attention on the regional Mexican space, it’s important to note that the regional Mexican genre isn’t exactly a genre. Encompassing an array of unmistakably Mexican styles of music, including norteño, corridos, banda, rancheras, mariachi and more, regional Mexican serves as an overarching umbrella term for a set of genres that had never before been afforded nuance on a mainstream level.
Growing up on artists like Ariel Camacho, Peso Pluma, born Hassan Laija, developed his love for música mexicana as a kid spending his early years growing up in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. Later, the influence of hip-hop and reggaeton also found their way into the songs he’d write. Today, he painstakingly stitches together 19th century Mexican sounds with modern genres, bringing both to the Spotify stage ahead of his upcoming debut album, and a single that he’s been teasing on social media.
After his performance, Peso Pluma sat down to talk with Billboard about what the Spotify look means to him, his recent wins on U.S. platforms, his Doble P Tour and his hopes for the future.
What does it mean to you to be selected as Spotify’s RADAR artist?
It’s pretty big to me because I’m the first Mexican artist to do this. I’m so proud and very thankful. It’s big for the country, the genre and the industry in general. We’re doing pretty good and we’re going to keep working to share our music.
Have you had fans from countries that surprise you?
I have a lot of fans all over the world, but the most surprising was one time I was shopping and a Chinese family came [up to me]. I never thought they’d listen to corridos in China.
What are the genres that have influenced you?
When I was a teenager, I listened to a lot of hip-hop, rap, and reggaetón. Rap culture just got into me, and I think I’m picking a little bit from every genre in the corridos I do and that’s why people like it, because it has a lot of different cultures in it. Reggaetón is the most iconic genre in my life. Since I was a kid, I liked it a lot. Daddy Yankee, Don Omar, Tego Calderon.
I like Bad Bunny a lot, I listen to him all day, every day. I listen to my friend Natanael Cano, 21 Savage, Shoreline Mafia. Feid, Anuel, Karol G. I listen to everything.
What’s a genre you like that people might be surprised you listen to?
Reggae. I like Bob Marley.
You recently played Coachella, how did that come about?
I got invited by Becky G — shoutout to Becky. She’s been too kind to me in my career, and done a lot for me. And she knows she has a friend [in me]. They got in touch like a week before, I was so excited and pretty shocked. It was so good, [the crowd] accepted us. People did scream a lot, it was a surprise for them.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced along your path so far?
The biggest thing I’m dealing with right now is not being with my family. Being on tour non-stop. That’s what people don’t see. They think I’m a working machine, but I’m not. But it’s part of what I like to do — it’s part of my character.
How do you deal with those moments?
When I feel like that, I just talk to my mom and my family and that keeps me motivated. They’re pretty proud of me and thankful.
You also did Jimmy Fallon recently, how was that?
It was awesome for me and my whole group. It was a new thing for us because it was our first time on TV and it was Jimmy Fallon. I think it went well, everyone watched it and wanted to see me perform, and I’m just thankful for Jimmy for inviting me to the show.
You recently broke a record along with Eslabon Armado, becoming the first regional Mexican song to top Billboard’s streaming songs chart.
That’s pretty amazing. But that doesn’t mean anything, because tomorrow I could be gone. We don’t know. I’m just gonna keep working to get where I wanna get. There’s a long way to go.
You’ve had a lot of big collaborative moments — what’s the role of collaborations in your journey?
Collaborations have been so important in my career. I’m just thankful to too many artists who have been supporting my project, ideas and thinking and what we have to do for the genre. My album is coming too and I have a lot of solo songs coming, and that’s what people want to hear, so that’s what I’m giving them on this album.
You’re heading out on tour soon, but so much has changed since your tickets went on sale. Are you looking for bigger venues?
Yes. Everything changed and I’m looking forward to what’s gonna happen. And my team is looking for venues. I’m sure I’m gonna do good if I do small or big venues. The tour sold out the first day, like 95 percent [of tickets] in two hours. We’re pretty excited.
Looking ahead, what’s something you hope to accomplish in your career?
I just wanna go to the Grammys and win something, you know? There’s too many things I wanna accomplish. I want to have my album be welcomed by the people, I want it to have the same streams as singles do. I’m showing another part of la doble p to people.
I know this is far in advance, but as someone who grew up between Texas and Mexico, where do you see yourself settling down when it’s all said and done?
I don’t know. I mean, Peter Parker is from NYC and I’m in L.A. right now. Guadalajara will always be my home. That’s where my family is, and Sinaloa too. But I feel pretty good here in L.A. And if life says, “Go to Miami in a year,” I’ll go to Miami.