The birth of Argentine trap exists as one of the most promising and evocative musical trends for 2021 – and at the forefront of the buzz sits Nathy Peluso, a queen riding on the worldwide embrace of Latin sounds spanning from rhumba, salsa, and Cuban ballroom styles, to its ’90s rebirth helmed by producer Sergio George (who worked with Marc Anthony, Jennifer Lopez, La India and more), to today’s Billboard-topping smash hits like “‘Despacito.” With a modern twist and a dramatic presence, Peluso’s in-your-face persona and genre defying repertoire will leave a mark on your musical memory.
On her bold debut LP Calambre, the Barcelona-based, Argentine-born artist exhibits stylistic versatility, including trap beats, retro R&B toplines, and a fresh take on old-school salsa. After moving to Spain with her family at age 10, she spent her adolescence discovering hip hop via artists such as Notorious B.I.G., Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent and Timbaland. She became enthralled by hip hop’s subversive attitude, although she wasn’t immediately able to translate the deeper meaning behind the lyrics.
Discovering her ability to freestyle, rhyme, and harmonize opened up endless musical possibilities for Peluso. 2017’s trap-driven debut single “Corashe” illustrates a modest Peluso, a vocalist and M.C. of wisdom and quick witted words. By 2020, she had evolved to a stylized, technicolor Y2K pop icon, drawing comparisons to Lady Gaga with “Business Woman.” With a natural affinity for grand gestures, and performative characters, she hopscotches between styles, genres, dynamic accents, and cultural languages. “I don’t want to please. I want to provoke,” she explains.
A natural beauty reminiscent of late pop sensation Selena, Peluso is an accomplished performer who breaks the mold in the current Latin urban pop landscape with her unique flow and hyper magnetic energy. With the fusion of cutting edge sounds, fashion forward fits, and her ability to incorporate unique crossover elements into her music, she’s carving out her own sacred space in the entertainment industry.
“My influences go in many different directions because I’m a music-lover and I revel in discovering and fusing genres that wouldn’t appear to have anything in common but that I enjoy mixing,” she says, before rattling off numerous inspirations. “From Brazil, I listen to Antônio Carlos Jobim and Caetano Veloso. When I’m listening to boleros, I like to hear Celia Cruz and Antonio Machin. For tangos, Anibal Troilo. My favorite salsa artists are Héctor Lavoe, Willie Colón, Ray Barretto. I have always listened to jazz – my heart belongs to Ella Fitzgerald, Etta James, Louis Armstrong, Ray Charles. Of course, hip-hop – Dr. Dre, Timbaland, J Dilla; as well as female rappers like Missy Elliott, Lil’ Kim, or Foxy Brown who have contributed a lot to my way of understanding and challenging myself in hip hop.”
Visceral and vulnerable, sexy yet understated, onstage and in the digital arena, Peluso’s unique sensibilities have garnered her a cult following. Before signing with Sony, Peluso released two independent EPs that gained her acclaim in the underground urban and alternative scenes in Spain: 2017’s Esmeralda, a collection of singles; and 2018’s La Sandunguera, in which she ironically channeled a tongue-in-cheek version of a fiercely empowered Latina femme fatale. “I get really bored being the same person. I like to dig for characters inside of me,” Peluso explains. “Sometimes it’s for the drama, sometimes just to laugh. It’s all a reflection of what I have inside me, that intensity.” With the success of La Sandunguera, Peluso played in her native Argentina for the first time and made her North American debut at the Latin Alternative Music Conference (LAMC) in New York City’s Central Park.
“My career is entertainment, not just music,” Peluso asserts. That fearlessness drives the overarching concept for Calambre, including its Grace Jones-inspired album cover. “I’m the one who takes the plug and causes the shock – of passion, happiness, whatever it is, I want to stir people’s guts without them being able to contain themselves.”
Peluso made her grand debut at the 21st Annual Latin Grammy Awards in November 2020, performing Calambe track “Buenos Aires,” which was nominated for Best Alternative Song (Peluso also earned a Latin Grammy nomination for Best New Artist). Taking a step back from her modern M.C. persona, she was backed by Argentinian singer and pianist Fito Paez for soulful rendition of the single. Peluso’s sultry and expressive tone exuded true star power, while her seamless contemporary choreography was hypnotic.
“I’ve always felt linked to dance even when I wasn’t consciously aware of it. I always intuitively moved my body when I sang,” Peluso says. “As a child I would watch myself in the mirror and dance for fun. As I developed my talents, dance became more intentional, and I began studying professionally. I’ve been preparing the fusion of these art forms since I realized this was my passion. It makes me really happy to share this with the world.”
In the Agustin Puente-directed video for “Delito,” the third single from Calambre, Peluso breaks out a full flashdance routine in a dimly lit tavern surrounded by unassuming poker players, though not a head turns in disbelief as the floor becomes her stage. Whimsical shots and Peluso’s dynamic energy illustrate the turbulence of hedonistic debauchery, while seedy settings and stark cinematography evoke Buffalo 66 or Bertolucci’s The Dreamers. The song describes the pure lust fueling an intoxicating relationship; its lyrics were written entirely by Peluso and the music was produced by her frequent collaborators, including Rafa Arcaute, Fede Vindver, RVNES (Kali Uchis), and Pearl Lion (Bad Bunny, Juice WRLD). While the young couple indulge in tension-filled entanglement, Peluso demands eye contact from the viewer – a recurring motif of agency and dominance.
Many fans experience deeper political undertones in Peluso’s songs relating to Argentina’s past and current economic crisis. Listening closely, those motifs surface within Peluso’s music, though it’s usually only after the track is completed that she realizes how closely her themes connect with the political climate of Latin America.
“I learn a great deal about my songs after they’re written – it’s like there are hidden messages that are between the lines,” Peluso says. “In the end, I’m just another citizen. I’m a woman who lives my life and has situations presented to me. That is what’s most interesting to me – taking inspiration from regular daily life as a woman, an individual person in the world. I often learn from my audience who are on this same journey. Through their interpretation and thought process, I in turn learn from them. It’s fascinating.”
Empowering Calambre cut “Sana Sana,” full of bravado and infectious rhythm, couches Peluso’s viewpoints in symbolism from a classic nursery rhyme that parents sing to children when they’re hurt (sana translates to “heal”) with both its title and the appearance of an amphibian friend in the video. Peluso often takes inspiration from memories of her childhood. “I believe that childhood appears naturally in my songs because I admire its magic,” she says. “It inspires me to reconnect with that part of myself. It’s an essential element of the human experience.” She’s touting the importance of monetary agency, of protecting what’s rightfully yours, and it works on a personal level as well as in the grander scope of Latin American politics.
Ultimately, Nathy Peluso sees her blending of musical styles as political in and of itself. “I grew up listening to music in English and it captivates me; I’ve learned a lot from it on my quest as an artist, a composer and a lyricist. I truly believe musical styles can live together independently of the language,” she says. “As a lyricist, it’s important to study how I can make the sounds that we Hispanics are used to listening to with English lyrics, while still getting the message across in Spanish in a natural, unforced and beautiful way. Many of the genres that I listen to and work on are predominantly recorded in English. However, I really enjoy transforming and giving them form in Spanish. I feel that the more they mix amongst themselves, the richer the result, and the greater impact the music will make on the world.”
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